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Worried about ds1 development

(9 Posts)
lookout Sun 21-Oct-12 22:05:23

Ds1 will be 8 in December. He is a generally happy boy, doing well at school and participating in several extra-curricualr activities. He has friends and plays well at school. He plays well with his baby brother, a little roughly at times and also does not seem to notice when he's hurting him or finds it funny when ds2 squeals to be left alone. His attitude befits an 8 year old boy just starting in Year 3 ie. rather big for his boots and quite lippy, but this is fairly recent.

What worries me is several obsessive behaviours that I'm not sure if I should be doing something about. He has a kind of tic where he turns either just his eyes, or his whole head, to the left hand side, quickly, and does it several times in a row, usually when he's talking to us. When running he adds a skip every three or four steps. He obsessively writes lists about anything and everything - there are reams and reams of them all over the house. And lastly, he's obsessed about one of us (dh, ds2 or I) dying, and talks about it a lot, worrying to the point where last time I went out he cried and cried in case I didn't come home sad. We've talked a lot about dying and I'm not sure there is anything more I can add to what we've already told him, but he seems still to worry about it.

Will he grow out of these things or do I need to do something about them?

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 21-Oct-12 22:37:43

Have got an 8 yo and I think you may be right in wanting to get this checked. Have you got a she co at school or could you talk to the GP?

BeaWheesht Sun 21-Oct-12 22:42:33

I think id be most worried about the tic tbh.

adoptmama Mon 22-Oct-12 08:02:17

I'd definitely get the tic checked out. DD2 had what I thought was a tic caused by a virus; went to the hospital and it turned out to be the onset of epilepsy sad So I am a firm believer in ruling out any possible medical issue.

Also get his eyes checked in case he has a problem with eye tracking as he may be turning his head to use his dominant eye. Visual problems like hypertropia will also lead to head turning to align mechanically what the eyes are seeing (as they are not aligning themselves/hope that makes sense).

DD2 went through a death obsession too, after my sister's dog died of all things. Months after the event she suddenly started uncontrollable sobbing, wanting to know where the dead dog's soul had gone etc. She also asked a lot of questions about whether I would die first and started ordering members of the family, saying who would die after who! I think it is relatively normal to have this phase. He may just be a very emotional little boy, so feels his fears very deeply. Maybe someone at school had a death in the family and he is worried it could happen to him too.

There is the possibility that his tics are emotionally based. He may be very anxious and this is the reason for his lists (he is trying to control or bring order to his environment), ritualistic skipping (if that is what it is and not just a fun habit of a boy riding an imaginary horse for example) and head turning. My DD1 had a lot of anxiety and some small obsessive behaviours. She had art therapy for the anxiety which was very beneficial.

I would advise you to speak to the school - do they see the same head/eye turning and do they think it is a problem - and to your GP too.

Goldmandra Mon 22-Oct-12 08:48:06

I agree with previous posters that you need to get his health checked out just in case.

The behaviours you describe are actually not as unusual in a child of his age as you might expect.

I have cared for several children who display similar tics through my years as a childminder and they have all resolved themselves after a few weeks or months. They can be replaced by other tics sometimes but these usually go soon too.

Death is a subject which often causes a lot of worry to children of his age. They have just realised that is it a permanent state and that it will eventually happen to them and their family. Talking about it helps them come to terms with the idea. You don't need to add anything to his knowledge of it, just listen.

Writing lists could be a sign that he's feeling stressed about organising himself and worried about forgetting things and getting into trouble for it. It could also be a way of processing and recording information which helps him finish thinking about each task and move onto the next thing.

Your DS is obviously feeling quite anxious at the moment but lots of children go through times like this. As the person most in tune with his behaviour and his thoughts you know best what impact all of this is having on his well-being.

You sound confident that he is doing well socially and is happy in school. Perhaps this is where he gets a break from the anxiety - that's good. I would check with his teachers that they don't have concerns which have not been raised with you yet. Is he showing any lack of understanding of his peers? Is he struggling to organise himself or to concentrate? If they don't see the tics or any difficulties, ask yourself if the teacher is the kind of person who would notice or could he be having problems which are being ignored or not picked up on? I'd also let them know that he is quite an anxious child at home so they know he is a bit fragile at the moment.

If you find out that he's having problems in school or you feel that the anxiety is having a significant negative impact on his everyday life or his ability to be happy you need to approach your GP. Go without your son and ask for a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service).

If you feel that he's coping with it all well, try to keep life as stable as possible, no major disruptions in routine if possible, make time for him to talk one to one if he chooses and keep giving him lots of affection and reassurance.

lookout Mon 22-Oct-12 10:24:23

Thanks all so much for your replies.

The tic has actually replaced several previous ones which have been going on for maybe 18 months. The skip is definitely obsessive, when asked he says his body needs to do it, he can't help it confused

We've had his eyes checked as he was complaining of headaches frequently. Eyes are fine, headaches 'went away' just after hmm

I know where the death thing comes from: my youngest brother was killed 4 years ago, so death has been fairly present in our family over the last four years. It's obviously impacted him, I'm devastated, but couldn't have done things any differently. We try to just listen and reassure as much as we can, though.

He's definitely an anxious child: he has told us that he worries about which choices to make sometimes cos he doesn't want to upset us. But that is countered by severe bolshiness at the moment!

We had a baby a year ago as well, so that's obviously had a massive impact on him - after nearly 7 years of just being the 3 of us, there's suddenly a new person to contend with and although he adores his brother, it is clearly a big change in the family dynamic.

I will check with school: we have a parent/teacher appt this week so will broach the subject then.

Thanks for the advice to get him checked out. I didn't want to start medicalising things in case it worried him even more, but as the concensus seems to be that that is what is needed, I'll do that smile

Goldmandra Tue 23-Oct-12 09:27:55

Sorry to hear about your brother. That would make death quite a big thing for him,, especially as it is not a big leap to the possibility of yo being killed. That must be hard for him.

As he's quite anxious you need to take a careful approach to the bolshiness. Sometimes this is the only way a child can express to you that their anxiety is becoming overwhelming. A good approach in that case would be to explain why certain behaviour is not acceptable but then moving on to trying to reduce his anxiety rather than introducing or suggesting sanctions.

I hope things settle down a bit for him soon.

lljkk Tue 23-Oct-12 09:41:52

My boys haven't had this.
But friends reckon their boys had these things & it was entirely normal & the boys got better by themselves (now adults), the less attention drawn to it the better.
In meantime we have a paedaetric neurologist in the family who said it probably is nothing to worry about & will resolve self but still should be checked out.

I have decided if any of DC developed such things that I would only seek medical opinion if the tic (etc.) was a problem for that DC.

lookout Tue 23-Oct-12 18:18:43

Thanks for the advice and reassurance. Will be meeting his new teacher tomorrow, so will try and see if she has any thoughts about any of this.

lljkk the tic doesn't bother him atm. He just says 'its my body getting used to itself', which is pretty cute smile. I do think it is deeper though, because there are other odd behaviours that run alongside it.

Thanks again all for your input

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