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struggling with ASD and trying to discipline aggressive behavior

(32 Posts)
SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 09:59:10

I am in tears daily because I can't protect my younger children from their 6 year old brother. Please can someone quite simply tell me how to do "consequences" for thumping, biting,throwibg furniture. I

I understand it may be caused by sensory issues, lack of routine, but I cant let him just do what he wants here.

He won't stay in any kind of time out, thinking time, quiet time. He breaks things, threw a stone through the glass door. It's not fair on the little ones if I can't protect them. We have tried 123 magic. It made him worse. I try a PDA approach but I have no idea what to do when his actions are really dangerous to others. He has no remorse or empathy.

Please just tell me the answer! Like I said, we are falling apart at the seams. It's only going to get worse as he gets bigger.

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 10:11:35

He has ASD btw.

PolterGoose Sun 04-Sep-16 11:11:55

My guess is he knows he shouldn't hurt/throw/break but doesn't yet have the skills to control himself or self-regulate, so you have to work alongside him and help him learn them.

'The Explosive Child' book is a good place to start.

Also:

Remove and protect anything which can be used as a weapon or projectile.

Reduce demands.

Try not to get in a cycle of telling off as it ends up raising anxiety and causing less control and worse behaviour. Find your sense of humour, be silly, remember how you deal with toddlers by remove and distract, do that.

Give clear, concise and positive instructions instead of negative. 'Bums on seats' instead of 'don't jump around at the table' sort of thing.

Try not to answer with 'No', it's like a red rag! Respond with 'what do you think?' 'What a good idea, we can try that later/whenever' 'Yes, you can do that once you've...'

Have a look at the incredible 5 point scale to help him develop ways of scaling his feelings and having set plans to manage.

Make sure he has a safe place and whatever he needs for his sensory issues.

If the other kids are fairly biddable and it helps for him to always go first, get first choice etc, then do it. He will struggle to learn skills to manage himself while he's still mega-stressed can you need to get him to a place where he's calm first.

None of this is easy, and I've not got one child, but others do it in multi-child households!

zzzzz Sun 04-Sep-16 12:15:17

understand it may be caused by sensory issues, lack of routine, but I cant let him just do what he wants here.
The consequence of you understanding his difficulties but not supporting him adequately is the behaviour you don't like. You must get away from the idea that you need to fix the end result before addressing the cause. It's never going to give much joy.

What is causing the outbursts? How do you address that?

Eg no impulse control means a MUCH safer environment is needed. He can't just gain the ability to stop and think any more than a baby can will himself to walk.

zzzzz Sun 04-Sep-16 12:16:18

As an aside mine is much easier to live with as he has got older.

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 14:04:16

Just wrote reply and deleted by mistake but thanks for responding to my cry for help! I'll rewrite later when I have a moment.

youarenotkiddingme Sun 04-Sep-16 18:53:42

I agree get to route cause.

Ask yourself this "do I honestly believe my child enjoys behaving the way he does?"

Imagine being that stressed you cannot control yourself, feeling so bad about it and then being punished on top of that.

That attitude was what caused my Ds (now 12) to be referred to camhs. (It's was school not me doing the punishing!)

I find natural consequences work best. But I don't tell Ds it's because he's behaving badly I tell him he's obviously upset and stressed at whatever and it's best he stops playing with X toy, gets out the pool etc before something gets broken or he behaves in a way he'll regret. It takes time but Ds will now accept walking away to calm. Natural consequences of him not doing so is toys were broke etc. That was punishment enough imp.

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:20:02

Thanks you. Polter good advice. I have "the explosive child" and while I liked the general vibe and advice i never got round to writing all those plans. There is always too much going on and at thr end of the day I could never face into the task. I'll re read.
I do think the PDA approach works. In combination with a love bomb technique. But all the professionals we have seen have been very Dismissive of PDA, and so we don't really know if he has it or not. Or what the best approach is. Between school psychologist, health service, private, and for four years in two different countries, we have been given so much advice, lots of it conflicting, that we chop and change from technique to technica

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:28:26

Sorry....we keep changing tack, on the advice of various professional s, and we dobt know wgich approach to choose and stick to for the good of his self esteem snd the whole family.

Zzzz thsnk you, you are right. It is not his fault and we need to address the reason he is doing these things, and not just "punish" the result. But as above we haven't a fuckibg clue how snd what to do, and wherr to start putting some order into our very freestyle home. He's quite complex, the triggers are not obvious. If he had PDA then timetable s and structure aren't going to help are they? He's sooooo gorgeous and perfect one to one with an adult. But thrn he seems deliberately provocative when other kids are around. Snd he makes me so sad and cross, I know I shouldn't show it, when he bites his little brother or pushes his little sister.

PolterGoose Sun 04-Sep-16 20:32:07

If PDA-style works for you then do it. Theoretically it shouldn't work for my ds as his dx is Aspergers, but it does and he didn't read the rule book!

I think a lot of us fall into PDA style when we run out of strategies. It requires effort on our parts, but can be fun and creative (in fact it should be fun and creative), and it becomes second nature.

I don't follow the Ross Greene stuff to the letter, more the guiding principles and philosophy.

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:34:07

I have to keep posting lots of short posts ad my phone or tintetnet keeps deleting them as soon as I've written a decent chunk.

I don't know what causes him to lash out

Re keeping his environment safe....we have to have books, cups, furniture, toys. All are weapons in his hands. He says he needs to hurt people.

it doesn't help that his obsession is with cutting things down, up! Hes a tree surgery fanatic with a love of sharp things. You can think everything is put away but he is an expert at finding loose screws and nails.

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:41:59

I have just had a lovely evening, him and me, where I took a very PDA approach, and coerced him into letting me get the little ones to bed without him ruining their bedtime, and rewarded him with time with me, letting him watch country file and have a later bedtime, and things have been calm and lovely. One of my major problems with him are the little ones. I can have manoeuvred and coerced him and got him to just the point at which I want him And

PigPigTrotters Sun 04-Sep-16 20:43:48

What everyone else has said.
We found the 5 point scale meant that we learnt to spot the subtle signs that ds's mood was deteriorating, and he is slowly learning to recognise it himself too. It does take time though.

If ds gets violent, we either get him into a safe room (his if we can), but if we can't manage it, the other DC get to their rooms so they are safe. Doesn't always work perfectly, but it's a work in progress!

I'll link to a PDA mindmap in another post, which is an excellent summary of strategies, it's aimed at schools but we use it at home as well.

If PDA strategies work, keep using them, don't worry about what the professionals think, they don't have to live with our children and work out how to make things manageable!

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:44:48

Fucking phone, sorry, it keeps jumping me back into text i have just written and reordering things. I was saying usually one of the siblings will chime in with some ref rag comment and undo all my hard work
Sorry, im rambling on, in a very disjointed and typo ridden manner, but it helps to talk!

youarenotkiddingme Sun 04-Sep-16 20:45:12

Have you heard of ABCC charts? That may be a way to see if you can find a pattern in behaviours and/or triggers.

I use PDA strategies in a round about way - again shouldn't work with my DS because his dx is ASD! But he seems to immediately shut down on demands or just avoid them.

Have you had any advice from speech and language etc? Do you know how well your DS is able to understand or express himself?
I know with my DS the issue is not being able to communicate any emotion - it then builds up?

So for example if I say something because he can't negotiate he avoids the demand iyswim?

Does he like competition or does it create too much pressure? I wonder if a way to make a positive relationship between his siblings and to start working together (but actually just alongside each other at first) would be races to get dressed etc?

PigPigTrotters Sun 04-Sep-16 20:46:20

Ds needs to hurt people too, so we need to recognise the moods and supervise 100% or encourage him to go and play on his Xbox or something.

This is the mindmap

knittingwithnettles Sun 04-Sep-16 20:51:04

Ds2 at his worst is very flight or fight, ie he screams or runs away if he feels anxious/stressed/doesn't want to do something/doesn't like something. Trying to impose consequences on someone who is either in a strop or running away is quite tricky! That is why quiet time, time out, telling off seems to be counter productive, as you are essentially escalating and accelerating the emotions or restricting the "flight".

What does seem to prevent the emotions in the first place is a lot of intervention and involvement. I'm afraid I think that a child with ASD needs far more supervision and cannot do free play to the same extent. You have to consider how much they can tolerate of other children's company, even their own siblings, and how long trips and getting ready for outings or even getting dressed will take compared to a NT child, and factor that in. No amount of consequences will change the way that a child with ASD might be incredibly bad at finding their shoes and putting them on, or determined not to share some toy. You aren't spoiling them at this age by making things easier, you are making them better at coping with family life, and then later, when they are older, the patterns for relating to others calmly can hold strong, despite stresses.

Ds2 is 14 now. He still has spats with his brother, but things are much much better than they were 6 years ago, and also vastly improved with his sister.

Sometimes it is also worth just accepting that you need more help too with the actual childcare, another pair of hands sometimes in form of respite or cleaning, or to take one child out, be in a playdate or a friend round to entertain the other children. It feels so hard that the older child isn't being "older" and kinder to the little ones but if you think of him having toddler emotions sometimes that might help - if you had three 2 year olds you would need assistance, and people would offer it (I would hope)

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:54:55

Thank you pig, I'll check it out now.
He has excellent communication skills, but poor receptive skills. He's very clear about what is upsetting him if he deigns to use his words! But often chooses not to use words, would rather growl or snarl or go straight to the hurting!

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 20:57:26

Not kidding me yes, I think I need to mske myself find time in the chaos if this house to do the ABC charts. I guess the problem is that his triggers seem a. Random snd b. Unavoidable. Like having his sister in the house!

knittingwithnettles Sun 04-Sep-16 21:01:00

I think starting from the beginning, and thinking of how to reinforce their relationship rather than expecting him to know the "rules" (however many times you have tried to explain that hitting and hurting is bad) in non competitive ways is a good way to reduce aggression. Is there something he can help the little ones with or make them laugh, a funny dance..
Could he give them sandwiches or cakes, listen to music with them, sing songs together with them, read a simple rhyme to them? Make their beds by straightening the duvet? Bring the laundry downstairs for you in a big sack? Jump on mini trampoline? Have his toys in a special box, which no-one is to use. Eat his food in a place that feels safe and unjudgemental (another trigger in our house) simplify his food? Read Out of Synch Child too and How to talk So kids Will Listen (by Faber) (she is very anti Time Out strategies)

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 21:01:20

Knitting that makes a lot of sense. I guess i just hate the little ones feeling hard done by, and that ds always gets his way.

youarenotkiddingme Sun 04-Sep-16 21:01:26

Perhaps looks at what his sister is doing at the times her presence pisses him off! It could be a noise or an expression that triggers him.

I know some children, my DS too, can be triggered by certain songs, expressions or words.

SophieofShepherdsBush Sun 04-Sep-16 21:04:37

He can be very lovely with them. God forbid another child crosses one of them, he gets into killing mode in their defense, even if it was an accident! He's really lovely. And he makes me so sad and angry that I start to fuck up and shout, escalate etc. He is the most infuriating child. and the most lovely.

PolterGoose Sun 04-Sep-16 21:04:37

I'm not sure that ABC charts are necessarily very helpful, partly because not all autistic behaviour will appear logical or explicable to another person (ie the person interpreting the 'data') and partly because the 'antecedent' might be something or a combination of somethings which happened ages ago. A detailed diary is probably more helpful IMHO.

It might've worth exploring speech/language/communication issues as often our children have very patchy communication profiles. Eg my ds has an incredible vocabulary and uses and understand very complex language etc but can't express a need and, like your ds, loses his verbal abilities when anxious.

knittingwithnettles Sun 04-Sep-16 21:08:25

He might also be very attached to you, and expressing that as jealousy towards sister, which of course makes you very cross, which intensifies his anxiety and sense that she is to blame for you being angry with him. Which makes him even more angry with her. sad

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