6 year old ds obsessive running back and forth

(27 Posts)
mookymim Tue 13-Sep-16 22:12:37

Hi I've never posted on here before I'm concerned about my 6 year old ds he's always been a very active little boy and hasn't particularly been a great sleeper, he finds it hard to get to sleep and wakes very early, typically 6am. For the past 6 months he has began noticeably running back and forth in the house he says he's 'getting his energy' or 'getting rid of his energy'. It is unnerving to watch as he appears to be deliberately exhausting himself. I've tried to get him to stop but he gets distressed, I end up distracting him which often works.
Today I asked who he played with during break at school he replied that he doesn't play with anyone because he 'has to run' when I asked why he didn't play with his friend George he said ' well he asks to play with me but I say I can't because I have to run' then he says 'I wish I didn't have to run' I said he didn't have to run and that he should play with his friends instead but he just replied that he can only think whilst running. It breaks my heart to think that he almost feels 'enslaved' by this need to run. His behaviour seems fine in other areas, his first school report said he lacked concentration and was emotionally under target, also that he didn't make friendships easily. All other areas he is bang on target.
I would welcome any support or advice. Thank you

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VioletBam Wed 14-Sep-16 08:17:31

It sounds like he needs some support at playtimes and also, possibly he needs evaluating as the running sounds like a sensory issue or an OCD type compulsion.

In your position I would go to the GP and tell them what you've said here...they can refer him to a specialist who can then get him some help.

He doesn't have to go to the GP appointment with you.

mookymim Wed 14-Sep-16 11:21:17

Thanks VioletBam, I am currently looking into the sleep issues as he always looks tired and I wondered if sleep Apnea could be an issue. Apparently children who do not get good quality sleep often show hyperactivity and mirror symptoms present in ADHD. I have contemplated visiting the GP about it but could never be sure it wasn't just him being a very active boy. I guess I'm worried about 'labelling' him and hate the thought of him taking medication. I think I'll have a word with his teacher and the school health visitor. Thanks for the advice.smile

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VioletBam Wed 14-Sep-16 11:23:17

Remember that if he DID get a diagnoses...it's not a label but a diagnoses. Diagnoses are sometimes needed to ensure children get all they need.

Can I ask about his diet? Does he eat much processed foods/drinks?

mookymim Wed 14-Sep-16 12:03:42

Not much processed foods, I try and make home cooked where possible ( although he has many dislikes). Plenty of fruit although he does eat puddings and treats too. My DH and I have constant battles about him giving DS fizzy drinks!

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BishopBrennansArse Wed 14-Sep-16 12:11:49

Labels aren't a bad thing. They are a descriptor for a set of behaviours that become shorthand for those involved in someone's care so they know what is needed to support them. More harm can come from not meeting someone's needs than a word or two which describes the cause of behaviours.

Get a referral to your local child development centre. This can be done via your health visitor, or if you're signed off the school nurse, or your GP.

If it is ADHD you fear then please be reassured that medication isn't a first resort, it's a last one. There are all sorts of therapies that can be used to help, a sensory diet, body brushing to stimulate the limbic system etc. My middle son DID need meds but I've just heard today that after 7 years on Ritalin he doesn't need it any more, which is wonderful, but when he was four it saved his life on at least three occasions.

Thing is unless he's assessed you won't know what his needs are, and if you don't know they won't be met.

Cakescakescakes Wed 14-Sep-16 12:16:43

My son has ASD and sensory processing disorder and he will frequently run back and forth across the room as a way of unwinding. He seems to need extra stimulation in his sense to do with movement (I can't remember the name of it!!) and that's how he gets it. It helps him regulate his emotions and be calm. For a child seeking sensory stimulation in this way it's best to allow them to get the stimulation in one way or the other - so either let him run or find another way of replicating this for him. For him it will feel like having an intense itch and not being allowed to scratch it. Maybe try the SN boards on here for advice as sensory difficulties are really common - and don't necessarily mean autism, ADHD etc.

BishopBrennansArse Wed 14-Sep-16 12:19:15

Agree with cakes, you can have sensory processing disorder without any ASD, ADHD etc. My children do have additional diagnoses but they do occur in isolation.

mookymim Wed 14-Sep-16 12:25:08

Thank you all for the advice, you've given me the push and support I needed in acknowledging there is something different about his behaviour. Family members are also beginning to comment on it. I did wonder about ASD but don't know much about it. Thank you.?

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mookymim Wed 14-Sep-16 12:27:52

Ha ha, didn't mean to put a question mark at the end there!!!grin

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LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 14-Sep-16 12:29:06

Definitely sounds like sensory seeking to me - seeking some sort of input to 'regulate' himself. If it wasn't having any negative affect I wouldn't worry about it, but if it's stopping him forming friendships then I would definitely get it checked out.

It may simply be that he hates sitting relatively still at school and feels the need to 'rev himself up' when he gets out - but as I said above, even if the trigger is relatively harmless and something he'll grow out of, if it's stopping him from making friends then you should take it a wee bit seriously.

Try not to worry though!

mookymim Wed 14-Sep-16 17:25:11

Thanks LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett, I'm going to start by talking to his teacher and then school health visitor. It upsets me to think he feels compelled to do this running even though he seems exhausted.

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katwhite36 Sat 26-May-18 06:04:14

Hello. I know this is an old post but I'm just curious what ever happened and if you found anything out? My 4 year old son runs back and forth for hours and he says he does it SO HE CAN THINK. Just as your child said. He does this for hours and hours. One night it was 6 hours. It is really bothersome. He is being evaluated by a developmental/behavioral specialist on June 20th. Thank you for any advice.

sumz1 Wed 13-Feb-19 14:57:17

I also want to find out as my 5 year old also running back and forth.....

Gzm555zb Thu 14-Feb-19 11:35:33

It does sound sensory, but at the same time I would question how he's figured out he can only think when he runs. It seems like a very self aware thing for a young child to say. Has anyone said this to him? Is it something that might worry him? The reason I ask is my mother said she used to wash her hands compulsively as someone said she would die if she touched nightshade. My son also refused to walk bare footed as he thought he would end up with hairy bear feet. Not a joke!

springhappy Thu 14-Feb-19 21:21:45

My ds has done this running back and forth since he was about 3 or 4. We used to joke that he would do it in his teenage years and right enough he is 15 now and still does it. He has a bigger bedroom now and we actually make sure he always has somewhere to do it if we go on holiday. It is a need that he has. He also used to say he thinks when he does it.
He was diagnosed with asd at 7, I'd say the running is his form of stimming. He will not run when people are around and he gets anxious if anybody notices or watches him.
He also whispers or randomly stops and asks certain questions so there is definite a lot of thinking happening smile I used to try to distract when he was younger but I gradually learnt that it was something he enjoyed.
Maybe it is a sensory seeking thing.

sumz1 Fri 15-Feb-19 04:08:00

So no cure for this! I am so worried, lots of people has asked what and why is he doing, I told he is getting his energy out.....

FolsomCA Thu 17-Oct-19 21:53:26

Hi Mookymim,

Can you please respond in this thread if your son stopped running?
Same started with my son at 4 years age, curious to know.

Sydka Thu 14-May-20 05:02:59

Hi, I just came across this and wanted to say .y son has been running back and forth since he could run at like the age of 3. I always thought he would grow out of it but at 16 he still does it. Just for the worried moms out there. He said it helps him think and it's a compulsory thing for him, calms his mind. When we go on vacation he can go without but he said it's a need within him so he said it helps if he can go on a treadmill or go for a run until we get home then it's back to running himself ragged back and forth. He will do it till hes sweating and out of breath, about an hour most times a few times daily. Hes an A student, lots of friends and nothing wrong mentally. I'm thinking maybe from everything I've researched it's a type of ADD and that is their outlet. I'm thinking that its not bad if they can cope that way instead of going on drugs right 🤷‍♀️. He use to be embarrassed about it but we treat it like it's normal and give him his space. I dont want him to ever feel like hes an outcast.

SuziePearce Mon 20-Jul-20 21:21:57

I found this thread looking for help for my 12 year old. Since lockdown he has been running up and down. There are a lot of similari8with above comments - he says he's acting out stories or imagining conversations and he can't help it. When he does it, he's in his own world, sometimes talking to himself or smiling at something we can't see. He does it in the hallway but most of the time in his room which rocks the house and can become quite annoying in the evenings, particularly to our other children in rooms next to his. I know he can't help it and he hates if anyone complains about it. Someone mentioned ASD above and I have been told that by someone else. Is there anything we can do to relieve it?

sharliss22 Tue 20-Oct-20 15:14:38

Hi! My 10 year old son has done this since he was a toddler and still does it. When I needed to move to another place, I made sure that we moved to a ground floor apartment as I recognized this was something he needed to do to regulate himself and I didn't want to upset the downstairs neighbors. He was diagnosed with ASD when he was almost 6. As he's matured, he's gotten better at finding more appropriate times to do it and will often choose to play tag with his friends at school over the running back and forth. He loves being in his head at times, thinking about his favorite video game scenarios or scenes from books he's read. I think it's like virtual reality for him and it brings so much pleasure and gives him some exercise as well. It may be strange for us neurotypicals, but for these neurodivergent kids, it's completely normal. I'm in the camp of "acceptance" but that's just me. He is doing really well in school and is really a fantastic kid. I notice he does it more when he is bored, stimulated/excited, anxious/apprehensive, arriving/transitioning to new or different locations or needs to decompress from having had to focus. For those parents who are facing potential diagnoses of ASD, I know it can really be difficult at first to wrap your mind around it, but these kids can be so amazing. It doesn't take away from who they are.

sharliss22 Tue 20-Oct-20 15:30:06

You can try to designate a space where he can run that might be less bothersome. Maybe even outdoors is possible, If it's going on for longer than 15 minutes, you can gently ask him to "end" his game or whatever he is thinking about in his head, pause it or put it on a shelf for a little while and try to engage him or draw him out into something else like an interesting youtube video, book if he likes to read or a snack he likes. If you do try to draw him out, it's very important to be gentle and give him some time to adjust from being in his head to facing the outside world. Also, help your kids understand that this is a need your child has and help them come up with distractions they can do while this is going on (listening to music? talking to a friend?) I noticed that when we truly accept something, it starts to bother us a little less. Hope these suggestions are helpful!

SuziePearce Tue 20-Oct-20 16:50:20

@sharliss22 My son has done this since March. I thought that Covid lockdown had set something off. He can describe it pretty well as he is intelligent, a good reader and very creative - likes drawing, making models and animations. He creates characters all the time to draw and write stories about. I am encouraging him to create a graphic novel as he is very talented. He says, while he is 'imagining' the world he is creating, he runs and can't help it. He gets embarrassed if I mention it. However, he is quite a large boy and rattles the light fittings when he does it. We are trying to work out how we can re-arrange things so that he is on the ground floor. The school have agreed to assess for autism as one of my elder daughters has Asperger's but this is simply to help them in their approach to his learning not because we particularly care about a diagnosis. I was worried it was caused by distress of some sort but it seems not.

sharliss22 Tue 20-Oct-20 17:41:16

That’s good that you are not concerned about the diagnosis. I am sure that there will be some reading the post who will be though. I know I was when he was younger and since he was my only child I had no one to compare his quirks to. I had a lot of preconceived ideas on what autism or Aspergers looks like from the media and that gave me a limited view of how varied autism can be or that he could still be affectionate, have empathy, be interested in lots of things, have a sense of humor, etc...

Your son sounds a lot like mine and my son described it in the exact same way! My son is currently working on a graphic novel as well and also very intelligent. It was an assignment from the end of last year but there was no way he could have completed it with the time that was allotted! We thought it would be nice if he kept working in it and when it was done, we could make it into one of those online books.

Interesting that the running just started recently. Some of these types of behaviors fade or emerge with time and I’ve heard puberty can really intensify them. My son recently started making these movements with his lips that kind of drive me nuts. Hoping it will pass.

I don’t mind when he is in his head at home but sometimes I worry that he appears very strange to others when he is doing it in public. I’ve mentioned this to him but he really doesn’t want to be pressured to inhibit himself in that way.

The big battle was getting him to not respond by hitting when he was frustrated or startled between the ages of 6-8. Luckily, he outgrew that so this seems like something I could tolerate.

LeGrandBleu Wed 21-Oct-20 08:35:59

I teach French in primary schools in Australia and here it is not unusual to send the active children steam off or run off their energy in the playground, either running to a certain point and back or doing a couple of laps of the netball court.
Could all this have been triggered by a teacher making a comment six months ago @mookymim ? Not necessarily sending him out of the class, but making a comment on his way to lunch " make sure to run off that energy so you can focus more after lunch" kind of thing

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