No end in sight

(18 Posts)
DetachedandDepressed Sun 24-Feb-13 16:54:50

I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but I've had just about enough.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to accept the impact that my DSS (age 9) lack of flexibility has on the household - he spends four nights a fortnight here as a long weekend, and as he's got older, our household has gradually adapted so that everything revolves around his needs; rather than accommodating everyones needs within a family environment.

Take his morning routine. It is very specific and each step has to follow the other without deviation. When he wakes up - whatever time and no matter how early, he says that he "has" to come downstairs straight away and have breakfast with his Dad. He says that he "can't remember" to stay upstairs until a certain time - so sometimes gets up in the early hours! If his Dad isn't downstairs, and I am, he will stand in the middle of the kitchen, fidgeting from foot to foot, until his Dad appears - he doesn't say anything to me and doesn't respond to my efforts at conversation, although he will follow direct requests I make - for instance to move to one side. If no-one is downstairs when he comes down, he will come back upstairs and sit outside our bedroom door until Dad gets up. He used to walk in and tell his Dad that he was awake and ready for breakfast. My DP now gets up stupidly early every morning that DSS is here so that he is downstairs when DSS appears.

DSS makes his breakfast in a particular way; the cereal, milk, bowl and cutlery have to be in exactly the same place every day for him to be able to get his own breakfast ready. If the bowl hasn't been put away and is still on the drainer - he can't make his own breakfast. So, DP has routine to check that everything is in the right place for DSS before we go to bed the night before. After breakfast, DSS "has" to go straight upstairs and get washed and dressed - he "can't" wait for someone to come out of the bathroom for instance and then carry on, he just stops getting ready, goes into his room and shuts the door - where DP finds him still in his pajamas when it's time to go to school!

Last week, DP was going out very early for a breakfast meeting; so wouldn't be here to have breakfast with DSS. It became a planned military operation with everyone having to be in a particular place at a particular time in order for DSS to be comfortable with the change in routine - DD had a bathroom slot at a particular time so that she wasn't in there when DSS got to that bit of his routine, and I had to make sure I had finished what I was doing in the kitchen by a certain time so there was space for DSS to put his dirty dish by the sink before he went upstairs. There were little postit notes dotted round the house reminding DSS that his Dad was out and what he had to do next!

I realise that DP is the problem here, he is pandering to his DSS; but is it reasonable for me to say enough is enough and for me to do my own thing; like go into the bathroom when I want to, not when it suits DSS - even if that causes DSS anxiety/upset? The school have no concerns (DP's asked), he's achieving well and it just seems that DSS has decided that this is the way that his brain works and he has no influence over it - which is something that he has said to us when we've tried talking to him about it.

allnewtaketwo Sun 24-Feb-13 17:00:04

No flaming from me, sounds infuriating.

Does he have aspergers?

I was wondering that, all

I have a friend who has aspergers, OCD and anxiety issues. Arranging to go out anywhere can be very difficult.

Although this friend is an adult, it is only in the last three years that she has been given a diagnosis.

She has to have her kitchen laid out a certain way. You can't just put a cup down somewhere, and you can't just make a drink any old how... and there are many many more things!

I've got used to it now but in the early days it was both annoying and difficult to understand.

DetachedandDepressed Sun 24-Feb-13 18:08:01

Noone has ever suggested Aspergers (I have wondered mnore than once, but I'm a lone voice with no influence) - the school have no concerns, he's been seen by the GP for anxiety and youth/child counsellors in the past as well - no-one has suggested that he is anything other than a "normal" little boy - DP's Mum says that DP was exactly the same as a child!

That's part of my frustration really - DSS is still a "little boy", whereas his peers are developing emotionally and physically - they're no longer watching CBeeBeeies, they are starting to demand independence and starting to show signs of adolescence. DSS seems to be a little boy in an increasingly big boys body by comparison. I'd happily put myself out to accommodate a toddler, younger child, or even a SN child - but it seems that everyone but me goes along with the way that DSS needs things done for no other reason than that's what suits him best!

allnewtaketwo Sun 24-Feb-13 18:26:55

It's very difficult and frustrating to be a voiceless bystander in the face of such inappropriate madness, I really sympathise. Not sure what the answer is though if no one else is willing to do anything about it. DH has finally agreed to try to tackle wildly age inappropriate behaviour by DSS, but it didn't happen until he reached 17 and DH realised how concerning it is

DetachedandDepressed Sun 24-Feb-13 18:34:30

A big part of me wants to just say "sod it" and give my DD and myself the same level of priority as DSS regardless of the impact it has on DSS - if he gets more anxious and stressed because I'm not prepared to revolve my life around him when he's here, is that OK - or is that heartless and mean?

I suppose part of me thinks it is unfair to do that, because I do think he has some form of undiagnosed SN - so he's not going to learn to fit in, like a NT child might do if faced with the natural consequences.

allnewtaketwo Sun 24-Feb-13 18:42:03

I think that if neither of his parents is willing to recognise that he has a problem, then you have no choice to act as though he doesn't have a problem. So you would not be unreasonable not to accommodate this fussiness as the expense of yourself or DD. Because if he doesn't have a problem (even though you think he might), then on the face of it it's silly fussiness and selfish demanding behaviour. Your DH can't have it both ways, ie. you to accommodate this behaviour whilst denying there is a problem

mynewpassion Sun 24-Feb-13 19:10:45

How was he when he is at home with his mother? Your DH should know how he was prior to getting with you.

purpleroses Sun 24-Feb-13 19:42:25

Somehow you need to get your DP to see that part of being a parent is accepting how your child is, and what they find hard, but knowing where they need to get to, and helping them to get there. What does your DP want him to be like when he's, say ,12? That's just 3 years away - presumably he'd want him to be able to get himself breakfast, knock on a bathroom door to see who is in there and wait for them to come out, entertain himself until a given time in the morning, get himself up, dressed and ready for school, make his own way to school independently, etc. He's a long way off that right now, so will need the changes brought in gradually but he needs at some point to make them.

My DSC are not as bad as your DSS in most ways, but the 3 that are a similar age to my own DCs are a long way behind the level of independence I think children should have by their ages. When I moved in they were aged 9-13 and couldn't make their own breakfast, find they way to the corner shop, load a dishwasher or cross a road, all of which my DCs (9 and 12) could do with ease. I had quite a lot of talks to DP about it, and he is now moving them (slowly!) in the right direction. I find it's easier to accept that they are as they are right now knowing that it will change, even if not as fast it would be were they my own kids.

spanky2 Sun 24-Feb-13 19:49:02

Sounds alot like asbergers to me.

DetachedandDepressed Sun 24-Feb-13 21:26:00

mynew - Do you mean what was DSS like when his parents were together; or what is he like at his Mums now?

DSS can't ever remember a time that his Mum and Dad were together; he was just 5 at the time, and of course, his needs were very different then. I became part of DP's life a year later, when DSS was about 6 years old - at that time, he was more dependent on his parents than many DC's I know of the same age - co-sleeping, having food cut up for him, calling out to be wiped after the toilet etc. I realise that everyone does things differently, and he'd just not been taught. DP has tried really hard to encourage DSS and has used star chats, rewards etc to teach DSS more independence, and it has worked to an extent - but it seems to have created very rigid routines - once DSS does something for himself once, it seems to be hardwired into his brain - and DSS says it's "too hard" to work out or think about how he might be able to do it a different way.

As for what DSS is like at Mums now; he is, apparently, "fine" and she refuses to discuss it with DP - she resisted the referral to counselling by the GP in the past because as far as she is concerned DSS is perfectly fine with her, so if DSS was anxious when he was with DP, then it was DP that was the problem. The counselling did happen, and DSS did benefit and is a lot less anxious about things such as his Dad doing things differently from his Mum, or my involvement in DP's life, for instance. Saying that, from what DP can gather, his ex is treating DSS the same way as she did when he was much younger; he still co-sleeps, she prepares his breakfast, brushes his hair, etc. Her Mum (DSS grandma) cares for him several times a week, and she treats him in a similar way, too.

DSS seems a bundle of contradictions - DP says that when he was younger he was a real wanderer; he got lost regularly, but didn't even seem to realise that he wasn't with his parents. DP said that he used to feel as if DSS blamed him and his Mum for losing him - assuming that his parents were constantly watching him and would go wherever he wanted to.
On the other hand, DSS expects to be led by the hand on the walk to school - a route he has walked routinely for many years! DP has tried everything to try and encourage DSS to think about which way they go at each corner, or whether it is safe to cross - but DSS freezes, so DP seems to have given up trying and has accepted that is just the way DSS is. Fair enough when it doesn't affect the rest of the household - but I'll be honest, I'm getting fed up with having to accommodate an overgrown toddler - and worried that he won't change as he grows up!

Lostinsuffolk Sun 24-Feb-13 22:40:45

Sounds like aspergers to me. U should get it diagnosed to help him out. If he's got it, his life will be extremely difficult with it undiagnosed going into teenage years. I feel for you smile. V difficult indeed.

DetachedandDepressed Sun 24-Feb-13 23:12:30

Sounds like aspergers to me. U should get it diagnosed to help him out.

Oh, if it were only that simple! Can SM ever "do" anything? Even DP had to threaten to go to court to get a specific issue order when DSS Dr recommended youth counselling a couple of years ago, because DSS Mum refused - if the NRP doesn't have the influence to seek medical investigation and intervention, how on earth can a SM have any say?

MrsTomHardy Sun 24-Feb-13 23:26:05

Sorry you're in this situation but I agree with others....sounds very much like AS to me. On what you can do about it, I'm not sure, you really need his dad on side

Eliza22 Mon 25-Feb-13 09:36:51

My son as Aspergers and OCD. He is absolutely infuriating at times (usually when he's very very stressed) and his routines can be exhausting. He's 12 but age 9 to 11 was a really bad time.

Kids do cling to routines when they're upset/mothered/stressed/out of their depth. He needs some help, this kid. It's really hard for you and if his mum won't cooperate, it's nigh impossible but, some kind of referral sounds necessary even if just for some counselling/CAMHS input. Can DH speak to his GP? Or to the school?

Eliza22 Mon 25-Feb-13 09:38:54

Mithered.... Not "mothered". Though that could be a consideration. For my son, home is his safe place. As much as he loves his dad and gets on with dad's partner, we go through a lot of build-up anxiety, before a dad weekend.

DetachedandDepressed Mon 25-Feb-13 10:03:27

eliza - DP has spoken to the family Dr in the past about anxiety that DSS displays, which led to some youth counselling - and DSS has had a lot of investigations for chronic gastric upset symptoms. DP has mentioned to the school that he feels that DSS could do with some support with problem solving skills and independence, but it hasn't been followed up by the school or DP. No-one has mentioned Aspergers or any other possible issue. If the school, GP or counsellor thought that DSS needed assessing for AS or anything else - wouldn't they mention it to his parents?

Just being here and seeing DP causes DSS anxiety because he knows that it is something that his Mum disagrees with. Perhaps that is why we see the inflexible behaviour more than school or home; because he is more stressed here than anywhere else?

I just wish someone who DSS parents listened to would convince them that DSS's life could be so much better - at the moment, I feel as if I am party to low-level emotional abuse; DSS isn't living a happy life, it's obvious to me, but no-one seems to be motivated to do anything about it.

cansu Sat 09-Mar-13 21:14:28

I can understand your frustration but if your dss did have a diagnosis of aspergers how would that change things? Would it make these frustrations easier to bear? If so then yes I understand you wanting some acknowledgement of these difficulties. However it may well be better to simply proceed as if he has this disability and set up ways to get through these difficulties. I have two dc with ASD and I have found some things can be changed or managed and some things have to be coped with.

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