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Do children with ASD or similar behaviours get easier as they get older?

(39 Posts)
sammythemummy Fri 18-Oct-13 13:02:39

I ask this after having a conversation with a friend of mine who has a 6yo dd with ASD. She said that her dd was a lot easier to manage when she was 3 as she could pick her up after a meltdown, choose things for her (i.e clothes/toys) but now that shes a bit older, dd has a big say in a lot of things so everything turns into a meltdown. This has obviously scared me to death because Im finding my dd much much easier to handle now that her language and understanding is coming along, so I really hoped that as her language progressed, so would her behaviour. But feeling scared now!

So how are you dc in comparison to when they were younger?

SuperiorCat Fri 18-Oct-13 13:07:14

Sorry but I agree with your friend - DS is over 6' now, there is no picking him up and carrying him to the car when he is stressed. I'm also very aware that he could knock one of us out in a meltdown.

Society also has expectations of him that he can never live up to.

LostInWales Fri 18-Oct-13 13:08:13

My teen with ASD/dyspraxia is an absolutely fantastic child to have around now and thinking back to him being 2-11 I can't believe it myself! He has lots of coping mechanisms now for noisy/busy places and knows not to go to some things because he will freak out. He has his bed and bedding exactly how he likes it, he has the clothes he likes to wear and his timekeeping is impeccable because he knows it sets him off to be late for things. His inability to lie or be mean make him the best teenager in the world and he still loves his mum more than anything else and needs lots of hugs. I wouldn't swap him for an NT child for any money in the world! (Although I do feel this is my reward for all the years of hard, hard work when he was younger grin)

ouryve Fri 18-Oct-13 13:12:02

DS1 is rantier (improvement in language and communication skills) and DS2 is slappier (less passive than he used to be).

So definitely not easier. I can also no longer hoist one of them over my shoulder and carry them off if they develop spaghetti legs, mid meltdown, in a public place. And, at 9, DS1 is rapidly catching up with me in height and, if he gets over excited and starts riving me about, he's in danger of knocking me over.

DS2 has learnt to open or climb over all our safety gates, so it's getting harder to keep things out of his reach. We now have to use a removable cable tie around the handle of a dog gate to keep him out of the bathroom.

The upside is that I can now have a conversation with DS1, so long as it interests him.

frizzcat Fri 18-Oct-13 13:12:30

My ds is 9 and I'd say he's getting easier, again I think cognitively he's starting to recognise what makes him feel better and what doesn't. I'm also better at not trying to make him fit in so he goes at his own pace more.

RevelsRoulette Fri 18-Oct-13 13:19:41

The challenges get different. And of course it depends entirely on the individual child.

My eldest used to be violent, didn't talk, was in nappies for many years. He's now talking but is aware that he is different and this is causing him so much emotional distress that he talks about killing himself, but he's a truly gentle soul and wouldn't hurt a fly.

My youngest used to be really passive, could talk but never bothered, again stayed in nappies very late, really easy to deal with cos you'd just pick him up and put him where you wanted him to go. Now he's become agressive and shouty and of the two is far more challenging. He lashes out a lot these days.

And they're both stronger and taller than me. The days of picking them up and slinging them over my shoulder are long gone. If either of them decided to really go for me, they'd beat me half to death and I couldn't do anything about it. Thankfully, they still believe that I have some sort of magical death stare, long may that last grin

sammythemummy Fri 18-Oct-13 13:53:34

Your boy sounds lovely lost smile

I totally get what you mean about not being able to just pick them up nd carry them away, but iv been finding that I can negotiate a bit better with her now her understandings come along. If she refuses to brush her teeth then i tell her "no bed time story then" so she will go and brush them reluctantly. If we go past stay and play and its closed, i can divert her by telling her that we will go park/shop etc..

Small things like that have made life a lot easier, she still struggles nd is hard work if she doesnt get her way...but surely thats also true for any 3yo?

sammythemummy Fri 18-Oct-13 13:57:45

Have any of your children been intentionally violet towards you??

RevelsRoulette Fri 18-Oct-13 14:05:03

It depends what you mean by intentionally.

My eldest broke my nose when he was a toddler (headbutted me), he's thrown glass at me, bitten, kicked, punched, etc.

My youngest attacked me after I'd had an operation. He aimed punches and kicks at where I was held together with staples.

They were doing all these things so it was intentional in so far as it wasn't an accidental knock with the elbow as they went past, but it wasn't intentional as we understand it, not planned out, not gone into thinking I am going to do this and then that - rather it was a total loss of control.

googlyeyes Fri 18-Oct-13 14:12:37

Touch wood, Ds1 is miles easier at 6 than he was at 2/3. Yes I could pick him up then, but then I had to do it a lot as he refused to walk and had frequent meltdowns while out and about. He would hardly eat anything and he had no clue how to occupy himself as he had zero play skills. He also wasn't toilet trained and became insanely frustrated several times a day because he couldn't communicate his wants/ needs.

He is now much, much calmer and easygoing. I think for him some of it is simple maturing, but very importantly ABA has worked on his communication, his behaviour and his skills, and he has made huge leaps in these areas. I can see that the world must have been a terrifyingly confusing place for him as a toddler, and ABA has helped him make sense of a lot of it now.

I am apprehensive about puberty though!

PolterGoose Fri 18-Oct-13 14:28:49

My ds was a delightful bright if odd toddler grin things got significantly worse from 4-7 and the pre-dx years were just awful. As I've grown in understanding and found techniques that work and he's sort of got support in school, it's got easier in many ways. He is definitely easier to manage now at 10 and he's developing quite good insight and some techniques to manage his own behaviour. In some ways I know it just feels easier because I know him better and the things that support him are just part of our lives, they are just embedded in how we parent.

However, his awareness of his differences (which mostly he's at ease with, but occasionally not), higher expectations from others, the gap between him and his peers, and other stuff has led to increased anxiety and different displays of anger. He used to be more violent at home but now can often express his anger by swearing and shouting, I prefer this to physical attack.

Without a doubt he has made tremendous progress, but his life is still many many times harder than a typical child, he has to work so hard at all the stuff that comes so easy to other children, and it takes its toll.

Yesterday he kicked me in the face, not exactly on purpose but not thinking about what could happen if he kicked out when I was helping him put his shoes on, it bloody hurt, it wasn't until this morning when I was helping again that he realised he actually hurt me, he was oblivious to my scream of pain at the time.

LostInWales Fri 18-Oct-13 15:10:44

I've lot count of the times I was unintentionally injured but he never lashed out on purpose. He would always take it out on himself and did a lot of headbanging on the walls, punching his legs etc. Nowadays we are both much better at watching for the signs so I can grab his hands and stare straight into his eyes and talk, talk, talk in a low voice until he starts to calm again, he is taller than me and stronger so I hope this always works. I try not to think too much about school because I know sometimes he will be unhappy but he won't tell me about it, I just hope that he copes (I have spies in the school, teachers that know about him and watch out for him and he also goes to talk to one every week, so he isn't abandoned!)

He is very lovely sammy, thank you, he used to be that child that everyone hated turning up to parties/soft play so it is very nice to have it turned around grin.

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 18-Oct-13 15:11:54

Definitely easier, although like googly I fear the terrible teens (mind you, nf teens are no picnic either!)

Apart from the odd meltdown, like this morning!, my boy at 10 is far far easer to deal with and calmer than he was at 2,3 or even 6

He is still autistic, but he has matured and the ABA has helped govern his behaviours so that he self-manages lots of stuff

He is even putting dishes in the dishwasher now (and I can remember a time when he used to throw a plate of food across the room when he had finished)

Plus I am more adjusted to it all I guess: I literally don't give a shit when people gawp now, I just think "you are rude people, brought up in a barn"

ouryve Fri 18-Oct-13 15:23:46

Yes - DS1 throws things at me, in a rage. We've also had a couple of incidents, recently, of him biting his brother hard enough to leave a bruise.

ouryve Fri 18-Oct-13 15:28:07

DS2 used to be a plate thrower, sickof! I'd forgotten about that one.

zzzzz Fri 18-Oct-13 15:47:04

Easier here too.

mymatemax Fri 18-Oct-13 16:27:00

ds2 is so much easier in many ways.
Communication & language have improved so he is able to ask for things.
Toileting etc have all improved, sleep for the most part is better.
Tolerates some environments like supermarkets etc better.
I am able to leave him at school etc without the tears.
He has developed a lovely sense of humour which helps us to diffuse many situations.
BUT
I can no longer pick him up & lift him in to his w'chair or in to the car if he is refusing t go out.
He knows what we are saying & so we have to be much more careful what we say in front of him.
once he gets wind of something he can refuse & be very stubborn
More door slamming & stomping
He is eleven & I would say the last 12 months have seen a huge change & maturity in him that we never expected.

AmberLeaf Fri 18-Oct-13 16:47:29

A mixture.

Easier in some ways but much harder in others.

Public expectations of him as a smaller child were much more forgiving of his behavior. members of the public would have judged as a naughty toddler when little, but now he is bigger people are much less tolerant.

My house has been damaged and yes sometimes it is intentional. He has thrown things at his brothers and me too. He has attacked his brothers.

The hardest part I find is how he sometimes feels about himself, it is heartbreaking to listen to.

He responds well to personal successes and praise and that can boost his self esteem But he is not very confident.

I will say though that I feel more equipped to deal with it all as time has passed.

On the plus side, he is bright and very interesting to talk to!

mymatemax Fri 18-Oct-13 21:16:19

oh yes but the difference between him & the average 11 yr old is so much more obvious. xx

sammythemummy Sun 20-Oct-13 18:55:33

Do you not find that violence subsides as they mature?

Swanhilda Sun 20-Oct-13 23:39:00

Ds has Asperger's and tbh he was pretty easy as a small child, maybe a bit Opinionated about food and how to play, but sunny natured, calm, friendly. He is still sunny natured and friendly, but lashes out in ways he never did under the age of 7. I think it is anxiety about the world and how he is supposed to behave in certain situations, what is expected of him that creates tension. Tension he never felt as a young child.

So you could say with increased maturity and social awareness he has become more anxious and more difficult. Is that a good or a bad thing - I suppose it means he is becoming an independent thinker.

On the whole I would say he has become more difficult. But he is still lovely!

AmberLeaf Tue 22-Oct-13 12:46:16

Do you not find that violence subsides as they mature?

Depends. In some ways it is lessened because he has got better at communicating when he is frustrated. But he still gets frustrated! He also tends to hold it in longer, possibly because he is getting better at knowing what behavior is expected of him [at school for example] and then blow up later.

It's worse in a way because he is huge compared to when he was 4. He is capable of doing real damage to things and people. He is too big to be scooped up and removed.

I feel I have the skills of a hostage negotiator now! I have learned to spot the signs of an imminent blow up and try to defuse the situation as best I can before it gets too bad.

I don't want to sound like a harbinger of doom though, as I said you get better at dealing with this issue as you learn what the triggers can be and the things that help diffuse it.

It is still hard, but I have adjusted my expectations and the sort of things I feel I can do freely.

sammythemummy Tue 22-Oct-13 12:56:59

Thanks for the responses.

I appreciate your honest responses as they paint a picture of what to expect. Right now im at the blistful stage whereby if she gets upset she leaves the room and shuts the door to be on her own (incredibly funny at age 3) or she will throw whatever she has in her hand. But she always apologises for any outburts or will come and console you, i just hope she carries on dealing with things in this way (minus the throwing).

Do you think girls are better at coping with their frustrations?

magso Tue 22-Oct-13 13:00:40

The difficulties and challenges change. Some things get easier, but new challenges appear. I agree with Amberleaf. I sometimes think back to those early days when I could pick ds up (he's almost 14 so as tall as me now) - but no -we have all come a long way. I would not want to go back now. Once communication is up and running, learning to cope with demands (there are a lot of those once in school) is the next big thing. Ds has made a lot of progress over the years- but there is a marathon still to go!

OnlyJoking Tue 22-Oct-13 13:09:37

I think it changes as they grow older, I have to change my approach more often. Things are much better, as are my coping skills.
I have twin DDs who are 19 and DS who is 16, all have autism.
We've had a few difficult years, managing their differing needs, lack of family and general support and the illness and death of my DH.
One of the hardest things is managing the paperwork appointments isolation and care packages.
I have to say that adult services are much improved than child services.
Child services only improved once I made an official complaint and got our MP involved.

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