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Advice needed regarding son (11) behaviour

(12 Posts)
bexcee8 Sun 20-Sep-15 10:11:22

Bit of background in case it helps. Have been married for 17 years. My son is 11 years old, we also have a 15 year old dd and a 9 year old ds.
We had two years of fertility treatment to have him so very much planned and wanted. He arrived three weeks early.
Other two children were conceived easily and naturally.
He has always been 'hard work'. As a new born he cried constantly, slept very little and was always unsettled.
The main issue we have at the moment is that he doesn't like change and has to have a very set routine. Any changes to that routine however minor seem to upset him and he withdraws, won't speak to us, gets upset and/or angry.
School holidays are challenging without the structure of a school day.
Other concerns are that he has very low self esteem and lack of confidence in himself. We are working on this with the help of his school but it still remains a concern.

He also has mood swings and can go from being really happy and almost 'hyper' to very low and withdrawn in the space of a few minutes. He has always been this way so I don't thing it is the normal pre-teen hormones kicking in although it does seem to be getting worse and more extreme.

School have reported that he has trouble concentrating on a task for any length of time, is easily distracted, always moving and the self belief issues. They have put measures in place to support him such as working in a small group outside of the classroom.

I have seen the GP. Appointment was straight after school and cos it was out of the usual routine of picking him up and going straight home it totally threw him and he wouldn't go into the doctors room or speak to her so I went in alone.
She referred us to an Emotional Wellbeing Service but after a long wait and a telephone assessment they said he didn't fit their criteria and couldn't help.
I don't know what to do next. It's like walking on egg shells around him trying to keep him happy and stable.
I can't go on like this though it is so wearing and puts pressure on the rest of the family.
Anyone have any advice on what I can do to best support him? Have done parenting courses, changed diet, reward charts, sanctions etc but nothing helped.

mummytime Sun 20-Sep-15 10:48:24

I would go back to your GP and see if you can be referred to a paediatrician.

Is he in year 6 or 7?

I would try to keep a diary to try to spot patterns. And yes try to reduce the things that make him anxious as much as possible.
Do also try to find things which help him reduce anxiety levels. You could try to talk to him about emotions - but be warned this used to make my DD have meltdowns as she couldn't cope with that kind of talk.

There is this book which offers one technique which might help. If you google five point scales there are lots of useful ways people have used the technique.

But please do try again to get him a referel. See if the school can help push for this.

McFarts Sun 20-Sep-15 10:52:08

Sorry if this sound really blunt but have you considered that he may have an ASD? He sound very much like my DD she is 13 and has high functioning Autism.

Kleinzeit Sun 20-Sep-15 10:53:09

Well… best bet is probably to go back to the GP and say you need more help. Something does sound a bit out of the ordinary. You might ask for a referral to a developmental paediatritian who can get your DS checked out for an autism-spectrum condition or attention deficit. He might not have either one, but even he doesn’t get any specific diagnosis the assessment process would give you an idea of what’s going on for him. There can be a long wait and sometimes we have to be very naggy and persistent to get any help or make any progress at all.

It does sound as if your DS's need for routine is genuine and it’s not something he’s just doing to upset people or control you. For whatever reason he’s struggling to keep his own world manageable. It might be helpful to look at the kinds of strategies that people use with kids who have Asperger’s Syndrome as they often have a similar need for routine. For example it’s OK to do some advanced planning and invent a bit of structure and even make up a timetable for him during school holidays and other unstructured time. A timetable might have actual times on it or it might just be “this is what we’re doing today in this order”.

You might also take a look at Explosive Child. It’s not specific to any diagnosis and it is good for kids who don’t respond well to rewards/consequences type approaches. He may not be anything like as extreme as the kids in there but he might have a similar kind of rigidity.

Good luck flowers

bexcee8 Sun 20-Sep-15 14:11:25

Thank you for the replies I really appreciate them.
mummytime he's in year 7, born in August so one of the youngest in the year. Thank you for the book recommendation I'll order that.
mcfarts yes I have but don't know enough about it or how to go about investigating it.
kleinzeit we do our best to have routines at the weekends and school holidays and always talk him through planned activities and write things on the calendar so he can see in advance. Just be nice to do something spur of the moment sometimes!
I think a trip back to the doctors is the best next step. Just difficult when he wont go in and things he's done something wrong no matter how much we reassure him that he hasn't.

mummytime Sun 20-Sep-15 15:48:55

Okay year 7! Is a potentially very stressful time for children like this.

I would arrange to talk to his Head of Year/Pastoral head asap, and maybe the school SENCO. Be brutally honest about how stressed your son is, and if they say "oh he's fine in school". Explain: "He is fine in school because he is bottling it all up, but he cannot cope at home."
They may have noticed things anyway.

Next - you may have to be very predictable for the next few weeks (months) but that doesn't have to be the rest of your life. Your aim is to reduce his stress levels whilst he copes with enormous changes to routine. But when that stabilises you can work with him towards being more spontaneous, but maybe using baby steps.

Do look at the SN area, especially the Goose and Carrot - its not just for people whose children have a diagnosed SN, and there is a wealth of good advice from people whose children struggle.

The refusing to go into the Doctor is in itself a symptom. Admittedly if he gets further he will need to be "seen" - but deal with what you have to so far.

bexcee8 Sun 20-Sep-15 22:23:57

Thanks mummytime some good advice there. Will book after doctors appointment and speak to the school. Hopefully we'll get some help and support from somewhere.

bexcee8 Sun 20-Sep-15 22:24:26

*another doctors.....

mrssteptoe Sun 20-Sep-15 22:35:20

Forgive my crashing in on your thread with nothing helpful to add - but my Y8 boy (12+6m) has been very low-self-esteemy, low confidence, frequent bolshiness, then apologies, says he's depressed, and I think is definitely stressed by coping with the demands of an academic school (selective, sort-of very good second tier as opposed to super-pressurised top tier) after a very non-academic primary.

To be absolutely clear, he cheered up a lot after he went back to school at the beginning of term, but he's beginning to dip again now. And he's struggling to get the same grades he was getting in the Easter term.

Apart from academic stuff, which is a separate conversation, we have been trying to encourage him to expand his comfort zone with extra curricular activities and stuff. Reading Mummytime's comments, maybe we've got this totally wrong? Maybe we should have been keeping things really consistent and "safe"?

Thoughts? No offence taken if this comment doesn't get taken up. Really hope you get the help you need, bexcee. With everything you've tried, you sound like a lovely mum.

Kleinzeit Sun 20-Sep-15 23:02:42

mrssteptoe It’s hard to judge really, managing anxiety is difficult and kids vary. Has your DS responded well to the extra-curricular activities? For some kids, if it's just school and academics that are the main focus of anxiety, then having nice activities to do outside school can be cheering and reassuring. And coping with something new can be a confidence boost.

But for other kids (or the same kids at other times!) everything new feels like too much demand; or else they are just too drained by the demands of school to cope with anything extra. bexcee has mentioned some things in addition to the anxiety and low self esteem - her DS's lack of concentration and physical wiggliness in school, the distress when his routine is disrupted, the way that his mood has been so volatile for a long time - which suggests there could be something extra going on that might make a low-demand approach better.

Really it's a balance and you know best what works for your own child.

mrssteptoe Sun 20-Sep-15 23:14:21

Thanks, Kleinzeit. No, he's one of those kids that finds new stuff adds to his low self-esteem if he's not immediately good at it. Of course I've explained to him that everyone's got to learn how to do stuff, but he just persists in viewing himself as the duffer at everything. He's taken well to LAMDA, thank God, so at least there's one activity he does with enthusiasm. And yes, my feeling is that he gets very drained by the demands of school - and is also typically introverted in that he needs to spend time away from people and activities to recharge. So we may rethink.
I found your response kind and helpful. Thanks.

bexcee8 Mon 21-Sep-15 07:31:47

My son has been encouraged by his PE teacher to try out for the football and rugby teams at school but he won't and I think it's because he's so worried about not making the team and therefore he'd see it as a failure.
mrssteptoe it's good to hear from other people in similar positions so please don't apologise.
The more support the better!

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