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Trying to help my friend....many issues....

(10 Posts)
tangstar Mon 13-May-13 06:06:10

My friend knows that I'm posting as she really needs some advice. She has twin boys who are now 2 years 8 months old. One of them is developing well, however the other one still doesn't have more than about 5 words. She is very worried about him. He doesn't have much interest in toys and prefers to throw everything or run and climb. Sometimes he seems to understand what people are saying but mostly doesn't seem to be listening. He still drinks about 5 big bottles of milk every day and hardly eats any solid food. The only foods he really likes are yoghurt and Weetabix, which she feed to him with a spoon.

She has seen a SALT who advised cutting right back on milk and letting him feed himself finger foods. She also got some advice on setting up situations where he has to communicate more as at the moment he just drags his mum to what he wants. My friend has asked me to help her with these issues - her DH is away until the end of the month and she's feeling quite overwhelmed.

I am happy to help if I can (my dcs are all older). I've been going to her house when the other twin is at playgroup so we can focus on the one child. The boys are showing what I think is typical 2 year old behaviour - screaming when they don't get what they want, fussy eating, getting into things they shouldn't etc. My friend is very anxious if they cry and tends to give them whatever they want to stop them crying, e.g. bottles of milk and endless tv, which she knows is not what she should be doing. Last time I was there we played for a while then her DS was getting a bit whingy and she said he was hungry. She said normally she would just give him a bottle. I suggested we try him in his highchair with a snack and drink. He didn't eat anything and got a bit upset because he wasn't getting the bottle. She said at that point she would normally give in, but I said let's give him a few minutes to see if he eats something. He didn't and my friend was getting more and more anxious, so I said shall I take him out now? Once he got down he was fine, playing etc, but she was very stressed that he hadn't eaten. I suspect that if I hadn't been there she would have given him the bottle.

I'm really not sure if I'm helping her or not so would love some advice! I said to her that I know it's hard but she need to remember that she's doing it to help his development.

Sorry this is so long, I wanted to give as much info as I could.

LittleMissLucy Mon 13-May-13 06:10:07

It sounds like you're helping her by posing normal solutions and by mitigating her anxiety. I'd say you're doing a great job.

tangstar Mon 13-May-13 06:30:56

Thank you, that is good to hear. Any other suggestions would be very welcome. He is rather a concerning little boy imo.

On my last visit after he got down from the attempt at snack time, we were still at the table drinking coffee and eating a muffin each. He came up and was holding his arms out so I picked him up. He reached out for my cake so I asked him "do you want cake?" and broke a piece off for him. He held it for a while, then licked it, then eventually took a bite (it was like he was nervous about it, or hasn't experienced many foods, not sure which). He didn't seem to like it and spat it out onto me, which I ignored. Then he obviously thought the spitting made a good raspberry sound and did it again and again covering me in more crumbs and slime. At the point I said "yuck, I don't like that" and put him on the floor. He started to whinge so my friend picked him up and he started the spitting on her instead, which she let him do. He also hits her a lot and she just says "ow" and laughs nervously. I told her she can tell him "no" or "don't hit" but she doesn't want to.

stowsettler Mon 13-May-13 17:02:59

I'm not sure about the developmental issues tbh, but it does sound to me as if this little boy is the one laying down all the boundaries (or rather NOT laying them down), not his mum, and this isn't helping him. Her job is to teach him how to be a human being, and this includes introducing new foods, showing him how to act in different situations, setting out behavioural boundaries etc. I would suspect his developmental problems are related to this, because if his mother won't show him how to progress then who will?
I know no more than the average woman-in-the-street about child development but I would think it would be particularly hard to establish if this child has a genuine developmental issues if he's just been allowed to live within his comfort zone and without behavioural boundaries all his life.

Lilicat1013 Mon 13-May-13 20:00:06

In a lot of ways he sounds like my son. My little boy is three and diagnosed with severe speech and language delay, global developmental delay and autism.

He is similar in that he eats a limited diet and in unwilling to try new things, he will take me to what he wants, he needs me to feed him, he drinks a ton of milk (cows milk though not bottles), at that age he had no actual play with toys at all and at that age he would have had a similar number of words.

Your friend needs to see a paediatrician about her son. I got my son referred through my GP. I made an appointment and took a list of my concerns when he was about 20 months old. I had to be very persistent to get help for him. Your friend might find she is fobbed off a lot and might need to be assertive or take someone with her who can be assertive on her behalf.

With regard to the discipline issue there is not reason she shouldn't discipline him even if he has additional issues. My son gets frustrated and can push and scream when he is annoyed. I discipline him for it, he needs to know what is and isn't acceptable behaviour.

Unfortunately if she chooses not to discipline him there isn't much you can do on that. Hopefully if he has additional needs she will receive some support and advice on appropriate discipline.

On a positive note my son was diagnosed at two and now at three having received help and support he has loads more speech. It seems to have all come along suddenly, I am so proud of his progress. He has also started actually playing with his toys which is lovely to see.

You are a lovely friend by the way to be so supportive.

BarbarianMum Mon 13-May-13 20:53:50

<<Your friend needs to see a paediatrician about her son.>>

I agree. Insofar as the opinion of a stranger on the internet is worth anything, this sounds like more than just 'being naughty' or a lack of boundaries.

Can this little boy understand 2 stage commands eg fetch your shoes and put them on? Does he ever point to things he wants, does he draw your/his mum's attention to things he's interested in (like a bird flying) or would he bring over a toy/leaf/stone to show you?

tangstar Tue 14-May-13 02:03:55

Thank you so much for responding. lilicat it's great that your ds is making such good progress.

I agree that my friend needs to take her ds to a paediatrician. I have suggested this to her before, I said maybe as she was worried she should get his development checked out thoroughly. I really hope she does it soon. The SALT didn't refer on but he was quite a bit younger then. He goes to a nursery/playgroup some mornings and they just seem to say what she wants to hear (she even admits that herself!) like oh he will be fine, just give him time etc.

BarbarianMum - no, I've never seen him do any of those things. He understands very simple commands, like he was standing on the step and I said "jump!" and he did. I think he fetches his shoes when you tell him to, but nothing more complicated than that. He comes to his mum for physical contact, and to pull her to the kitchen to get his bottle, but not to point to things or show her things. He is very physically active - always running and climbing on everything and hardly notices toys. In my house he goes straight for the piano and will sit there for ages making up tunes. I brought out a box of toy animals which used to belong to my dcs but he didn't even go near it - I would have thought most children would be interested in something new? I did show him what was inside at one point - he looked for a few seconds (and copied me making a piggy noise) then threw the animals one by one around the room. He throws everything at the moment. My friend asked me what I thought she should do when he throws things - I said it depends what it is, if it's something he really shouldn't throw then take it away and tell him no. She did do that when I was there and he got a bit upset so he does understand when she's cross.

tangstar Tue 14-May-13 02:13:33

Should have said he does enjoy physical games with someone else - tickling, running between 2 people, that kind of thing. He seems to be fascinated with how things work and will open and close a cupboard again and again.

Pythonesque Wed 15-May-13 21:35:18

Agree with everything that's already been said. You are being a great friend - if you can keep being there for her you will be a super help. What you are doing is twofold - modelling parenting behaviours/helping her be consistent or alter her instinctive reactions as necessary; and, just as importantly, giving her support for herself. Children this age aren't easy, and twins doubly so; plus children with extra needs take more out of their parents and it is easy to get stuck in a cycle where something isn't really working but you don't know what else to try.

This mum could easily be depressed, or become so. Your presence will count for a lot!

Hope she can get a referral; and if his hearing hasn't been checked yet that could be prioritised as I suspect developmental referrals sometimes take a while to come through. Very best wishes!

tangstar Thu 16-May-13 02:24:35

Thanks again, and you're right, I think she has found the twins such hard work that she has just been surviving in a way, and now doesn't know how to adapt to their different needs as they get older and need a bit more independence. It doesn't help that her DH has a very demanding job with long hours and lots of travel. Now that she has the boys in playgroup some of the time she gets a bit of a breather which I think is why she has finally accepted that something is not right with one of them. She asked me to be honest with her which I am, and she does want my suggestions, but I get the impression she goes along with it when I'm there, but goes back to what she's used to when I'm not. But nothing I can do about that, just have to (sensitively) give advice when she asks.

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