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ASD and being unable to make decisions

(32 Posts)
bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 19:05:17

has anyone else got any experience of this?

just had a horrible experience in a book shop with ds1 (age 8.5) who had been given a book token.

there were 2 books he wanted to look for, but they didn't have either.
he was unwilling to see if they could order one in.
and then we just spent ages going round in circles... he wanted a book, there were no books he wanted. we looked at literally EVERY book in there. tried to get him to narrow it down to maybe info book or fiction, nope.
we took a break to go and have coffee and a think about it.
he was not willing to just leave it for another day, but he was utterly incapable of choosing something he would like

he was sat on the floor saying he wished he would die, and how awful it all was...

any ideas? we've had similar before when spending birthday money when he hasn't known in advance what he would like.
not quite sure how to approach it as he WANTS to go and do these things, but once in a shop it just goes wrong

PolterGoose Tue 22-Oct-13 19:23:24

Oh yes, humongous problems with making decisions here too, ds is 10 and has Aspergers. We can't do browsing either, we always order books online to save this exact problem grin

Like many things with my ds, it is the extremes, either a fixed rigid immovable decision or complete inability to decide and nothing in between. It is always at its worst when his anxiety is higher (so it gives a clue as to where he's at anxiety-wise)

When ds gets birthday money he waits until he knows what he wants and then we order it online for him and he gives us the money. Much easier!

bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 19:35:09

yes, we've tried online before, but he still doesn't quite get the whole "we buy it and you give us the money" thing :-D

do you know if you can spend book tokens online? that might be the way to go in future if they have a code on them or something. will find out.

it was just so frustrating. and upsetting. I think if he'd found the book he had in mind it would have been fine! i suppose that caused the change in expectations, unexpected circumstances etc etc. really difficult

any ideas on how I can support him in similar situations in future would be welcome!

claw2 Tue 22-Oct-13 19:35:28

Yep same here, too many choices and ds is totally overwhelmed. Particularly like your ds, if he was fully expecting to choose from the 2 books and take 1 home, then found out he couldn't and had to choose from 100's.

I try to limit choices where at all possible. Then time limit it, otherwise I will decide. For example 'are you going to put on socks or pants first, we could be there all day!

ouryve Tue 22-Oct-13 19:55:25

DS1's had to be carried out of shops after episodes like that.

Lots of book shops and small toy shops are quite amenable to you phoning to check for stock before your journey, so you're not disappointed. Some of the larger toy stores have an online stock checker - not failsafe, but less risky. Argos lets you reserve online and collect and pay in store, so that could be a good in between for certain things.

bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 20:07:03

yes, in hindsight it was a rookie error not doing a stock=check first!
OR warning him that they may not have that one in and to maybe have a couple of others in mind.

Ineedmorepatience Tue 22-Oct-13 20:13:36

We have had similar issues bundaberg Dd3 has Asd and is 11. She gets a very fixed idea of what she wants to buy and gets really upset if its not available. She then isnt able to choose an alternative because it wasnt part of her agenda.

It is fairly exhausting, she also struggles with the concept of giving us her money when we order something online for herhmm

Hey ho, we will keep trying smile

wetaugust Tue 22-Oct-13 20:26:08

I have real trouble making decisions.

If it's somrhing like what colour to buy a jumper I end up buying the same jumper in every colour I like.

It can be very paralysing at times.

NoHaudinMaWheest Tue 22-Oct-13 20:40:04

We have had exactly the same situation with Ds. And as Polter says it is one indication of how high his anxiety is how difficult coping with decision making is.
However he is now 17 and it is getting somewhat easier. He is also getting the 'we order it for you and you pay us bit!'

Ds find it really difficult when in a shop to chose something. He took 1.5 hours to spend £3 in tesco one day. I ended up sitting down on the floor and playing apps on my phone. Online is so much easier.

bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 21:31:17

I think ds1 finds money hard too. He'll be in a shop and even if he knows he only has a certain amount to spend he'll see other more expensive things he really wants and then get upset that he can't get them sad

That's exactly what mine does. Then he needs to find the most he can buy with what money he has.

Holycowiloveyoureyes Tue 22-Oct-13 22:02:15

Oh god DS is like this.

My mum and dad took him shopping before we started this whole diagnosis process. They asked him to choose some socks.

I think my dad is still emotionally scarred from what he refers to as "the sock incident" grin

I now give 2 choices, this or that.

bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 22:26:29

yes, my dad is still scarred from his experience in sainsburys cafe. he'd taken ds1 out for some hot chocolate and when they got there he made the mistake of asking him what he'd like to drink!

they had to leave in the end lol

bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 22:28:58

so... we all know avoidance is key. and preparation for how much you have to spend, possibility of item being unavailable etc etc

but is there anything we can do to help our kids in this kind of situation should it arise again?
i wouldn't have a problem with limiting choice, but if it isn't what he wants DS1 will still be incredibly unhappy about that (plus it will then be MY fault)

i guess, i'm looking for coping mechanisms (for us both) in case this happens again? ways of helping him see that we don't have to buy something right then? or ways of encouraging decision making in stressful situations?

cardboardcactus Tue 22-Oct-13 22:39:19

Oh god, am having flashbacks to a particularly awful school book fair incident several years ago, before I developed a slightly thicker skin....eek! Not sure i can offer any wisdom though coz I tend not to take ds into shops as much anymore, apart from one or two which are outings in themselves and a VAST amount of time is given over to the decision making.

ouryve Tue 22-Oct-13 22:44:55

DS1's easy, since it's coins that he cares about and most of his wobbles have been down to not being able to find anything to spend money on and get change. At the weekend, he pestered to go to B&Q (he likes it there, but also likes the bath full of coins at the exit) and argos (replacing broken catalogues). He found nothing to spend the coin he'd put in his pocket on, though and began to simmer as we walked back to the car. I swapped his pound coin for one out of my bag, and all was well.

Your DS sounds like he needs preparation - a plan B. OK, so we're going to choose from these 2/3/5 books, but if we can't get any of them we go and have an icecream, then try again another time, or we place an order.

bundaberg Tue 22-Oct-13 22:47:46

yes maybe i need to present it as "this will happen" rather than "would you like to"

so not "would you like to come back another day" but "we can't choose so we're coming back a different day"

amistillsexy Tue 22-Oct-13 22:51:31

Oooh, I feel your pain, OP.

DS wants to spend every penny he gets as soon as it hits the bottom of his money box.
Trouble is, he has a comprehensive knowledge of the entire lego catalogue, thanks to school allowing him to browse the Internet during his 'choosing' time.
He now expects to be able to buy twenty five quid sets when he's got a fiver saved up. He's had bad experiences of things selling out before he's saved enough, so now he begs and pleads for me to buy them as soon as he wants them.
Which would be fine, except, by the time he's saved enough to 'buy' them from me, he's onto the next thing....AAaaaarrrrggghhhh!

Swanhilda Tue 22-Oct-13 23:00:46

A very interesting insight OP because I never understood before why ds2 found it so hard to make decisions and would rather leave a toy shop in the past rather than buy the wrong thing - I have sometimes BEGGED him to buy something, anything. The latest was a Playmobil plane which he kept saying he wanted but he wasn't sure if he really wanted it, but on the other hand it might be nice if he had it, just to hang on his wall. Etc etc. I gave up and didn't buy it, but I would have loved him to enjoy tinkering with it. I got the feeling he thought that once he had chosen that, he had no chance of any other presents for the forseeable future, and he didn't want the chance to be wasted.

I myself remember a terrible incident when I was about 11, given a book token to buy a form prize, which was going to be presented to me on stage at my new secondary. I could not choose, I ranted and raved in bookshop, and ended up buying the Hobbit which I'd read already. I think my mother had to leave me there in order for me to come to my senses. I always wonder whether I could have possibly picked something more interesting and of its era! (1976) I've disliked the Hobbit to this day, although I love L of R. So I suppose it isn't uncommon this phobic reaction to too many choices. I like giving children real presents now because I see vouchers and itunes and such like aren't really gifts - a good gift makes the decision for you.

wetaugust Tue 22-Oct-13 23:41:00

There's also an OCD aspect to making decisions and the need for OCD-related 'eveness'.

This next bit is really boring but this is how it works.

Imagine you're given a choice of A or B.

You chose A.

So because you chose A, next time you have to make a decision you chose B.

But because you made the choices A, then B, the next time you have a make a decision you chose B - as this was your 2nd choice last time so has to be your first choice this time to even things up.
Next decision will therefore be A , so you complete the evenness of the sequnce A then B, follewed by B then A.

Next time, you try to even things further by doing the sequence:

B then A followed by A then B.

And so on and son on...... DS explained it to me. Eventually it gets so complicated you can't make a decision for fear of makig the wrong decision and introducing inequality.

... and we only have to decide whether to take an umbrella in case it rains confused

wetaugust Tue 22-Oct-13 23:58:41

^^ you see, I just knew that would be a thread-killer grin

PolterGoose Wed 23-Oct-13 07:33:24

I have sometimes BEGGED him to buy something, anything

grin Yep, I've done this! Ds had money, knew what he wanted to buy, went to shop, they had the thing in stock, he went into indecision, I knew he loved the thing and would enjoy it loads, stood persuading him to buy the bloody thing, in the end I just bought it, got home and he was thrilled with it, for whatever reason he just got completely stuck when in the shop and actually looking at the thing.

Wet I often wonder if ds has some OCD tendencies but don't know enough about it, it's the way he just gets 'stuck' sometimes, I have no idea how to explain it, it's not serious or a big thing, but it's there I think confused

my dd is 20 now, asd amongs other dx, still can't make her mind up when in a shop, we do a list now if we can't reserve an item, we write down first choice, second etc, upto 10 sometimes lol, she has to investigate everything online before deciding, that takes days, my nightmare day was yesterday, it was her birthday so we went to town for lunch and some retail therapy, dd decided she wanted to have her nails done, we went into the shop to book an appointment, only appointment they had was (now) lady said what colour, dd hadn't had time to plan so she hadn't a clue, lady bought a large storage box out full of nail polish.....said choose 1....and what design and colour for nail art, think my dd is banned from there now lol, I ended up having to choose it for her as the lady was getting as stressed as my dd

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 23-Oct-13 09:00:31

SALT assessed DS1's higher level comprehension skills (TOPS-3) (problem solving, causation, prediction, inference etc). It helps avoid public pleading my frustration levels to know that he is on the 1st percentile.

Internet shopping has made a huge improvement but beware of next day delivery not actually being the next day!

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