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Is this normal behaviour or should I seek professional help?

(20 Posts)
Boyswillbeboys Sat 25-Oct-08 14:29:14

My DS2 (almost 5) is driving me to distraction at the moment and I am completely at the end of my tether. He has always been very demanding and clingy, and has never been sociable. When he was little I assumed he would just grow out of it, but it doesn't seem to be improving. He also develops obsessions about certain ways of doing things and gets unfeasably upset if we forget his latest "thing", for example
1)He has to wave goodbye to his dad at the window every morning, and then I get ten minutes of screaming that daddy didn't wave enough.
2) He has to be the one to switch the computer light off / TV on and off / put the phone back in its holder and again we get full blown screaming if we forget to let him do this.
3) He doesn't seem to have any friends at school, if I ask him about it he says he doesn't need friends as he has his brother to play with.
4) He doesn't mind loud music but absolutely hates the loo being flushes and goes mad if anyone uses the hand dryers in public loos.
5) He will only wear certain clothes and has enormous tantrums if I try to dress him in anything new.

He seems to be doing ok with his reading and writing in Reception and loves his teachers, in most ways he seems to have reached all the developmental goals for his age, but the unsociable side and the constant screaming tantrums are worrying me. Is he just badly behaved or is it something more than that? Have tried star charts / time out etc to encourage good behaviour but nothing seems to work.

We have a parents meeting soon so I will ask his teachers, but so far they have not mentioned any concerns to me, so I am assuming he behaves ok in class. Any advice appreciated.

Ali4cotswolds Sat 25-Oct-08 14:42:51

As his behaviour is not just related to being at school how about speaking to your Health Visitor / GP. Best wishessmile

Sidge Sat 25-Oct-08 14:53:22

Hmm, I think a lot of that is fairly normal behaviour in terms of trying to control their environment. Has it got worse since he started school? Some children behave well at school but there is so much that is out of their control they make up for it when they are at home.

Do ask his teacher whether he has any friends - what your DS says and what is actually happening at school may not be the same! Does he socialise with friends out of school, eg your friends' children?

I would see what the teachers say, and if they also have concerns about his behaviour then maybe speak to the school nurses or your GP?

Troutpout Sat 25-Oct-08 15:05:22

Mmm he's still very young..some of those things are quite common for 4 year olds.They could all be phases or things that he may grow out of.
Tbh..a lot of 5 year old boys will say that they have 'no friends at school' or even 'lots of friends' and when you go in the playground and look, they are quite ofton just whizzing around by themselves and bumping into each other and socialising randomly.
However... He sounds a lot like my boy at that age (apart from the clingy bit...ds was the opposite to clingy). Ds is now is 11 and has a diagnosis of Aspergers.
Could you ask at school for their views on his social behaviour? It would mean you have more to go on if you decide to go to the gp for a referral.
Hope this helps and that i haven't worried you
smile

runningoutofsteam Sat 25-Oct-08 15:40:55

Hi honey, it's such a worry if we start to think there is a problem with our kids isn't it?

Being a parent is tough enough but even harder when your child is behaving in a demanding and difficult way. This may be something and nothing, a phase he will simply grow out of or a sign that he is struggling a bit.

But don't panic, ask many parents and their children have gone through a period of strange behaviour than went as soon as it came! But if you've got a hunch that it might be a little more than that just follow your instincts and start asking a few questions.

I do think it's a great idea to get professionals on board, see what advice you can get and find out if he has any difficulties at school that need addressing. Do be aware that they don't all know what they are talking about - my son has had some 'interesting' assessments that had I not been a childcare professional myself I would have taken as gospel! Keep an open mind.

One piece of interesting advice, a psychologist once advised me never to get an official diagnosis or label Ds with a particular condition. Her theory was it would have implications for his whole life and that diagnosis at a young age were often way off mark and changed as the children grew up, yet child was left with a diagnosed condition on medical notes for life. Not sure if she was right but it's an interesting view point.

My eldest son sounds similar to your little boy at this age. I'm not saying your son is identical to mine and I may be way off here but maybe our experience may be of interest to you.

I too asked teachers and doctors what was going on when Ds seemed to get stressed over many seemingly innocuous events and struggled to form relationships with his peers. He has been seen and assessed many times without a definitive answer. It has been suggested that Ds is on the high level of the autistic continuum or has a semantic pragmatic disorder or none of the above! I've finally decide that he is just him - a one off!

What is apparent is that Ds falls into a category of people who find social skills difficult, which can make them feel quite anxious (and cranky!). This anxiety sometimes comes out in a need to control certain things in their lives to give them a sense of security. Severity in children can vary from complete life consuming lists of daily rituals to just a few little strange 'quirks' (plus a whole lot of tantrums!)

As my son has grown older, now 9, he has grown out of his behaviours, regressing occasionally if tired or ill, and has learnt his own coping strategies - I'm so proud of him! School has been great, every teacher has made a special effort to make sure he is coping, with imaginative ideas and lots of compassion.

He is a bright boy, extremely able academically but he just hasn't got great social skills. He finds it hard to make friendships at school, though is a popular classmate, he just tends to keep himself to himself. At home he has made some good friendships in our road, plays well with cousins and he and his little brother are fabulous friends (and enemies!)He is kind, funny and generous yet hates to lose with such passion and so wants to be in charge that games can be pretty traumatic! He finds loud noise, very busy games etc. overwhelming, almost like it is just too much stimulation. He can be cranky and hard work, sometimes he (and we) have a bad day or two. Yet most of the time everything is great and he is very happy, some of my friends who didn't know him when he was younger fail to see he has any difficulties at all and are suprised when I talk about it.

It's easy to say don't worry but even if there are some issues for your son, the future is not bleak. Just take this as a chance to understand him more, where he is coming from and find the ways to help him find his feet in this mad world!

I wish you and your family well x

serin Sun 26-Oct-08 01:15:13

Great post Runningoutofsteam, we have had very similair problems with DS1 and Dnephew, You are right they are trying to find their feet in a mad world.

Boyswillbeboys Sun 26-Oct-08 08:08:47

Thanks everyone, really helpful advice. Troutpout - I had been wondering about the possibility of Aspergers, but tbh I know very little about it. Like Runningoutofsteam says, I am also a bit worried about DS being "labelled", although I suppose if I have a name for the difficulties he is experiencing that might make it easier to understand and deal with. I am kind of reluctant to involve GPs, health visitors etc, too - it feels like admitting failure, but I think I have to take the plunge so I can put my mind at rest one way or another. I am trying to discipline him to stop the tantrums etc but then I feel guilty because I wonder if he is not being "naughty" but that he just doesn't get it because he simply isn't able to. Don't you sometimes wish you were a fly on the wall when the DCs are at school, it's so difficult to find out from a 4 year old exactly what he gets up to during the day when you are not there!

runningoutofsteam Sun 26-Oct-08 09:58:33

Please don't think of it as 'admitting failure' to get some advice from professionals. It's you being a wise mum by seeing you might just need a bit of information and ideas on how to help DS.

My DS never really got labelled as he doesn't fit comfortably into any one category - yet finding out about all the different possibilities did give me so much insight into what exactly DS was struggling with. You don't have to get a full diagnosis, that's a long way down the path, you will just initially get ideas, informal assessment and advice - it's your choice how far to take it. There is lots of help out there, well worth giving it a try, even if just to put your mind at rest.

I think my worst problem was other people, and some family, who just saw a naughty boy. I eventually could see DS was just having a hard time and the tantrums were because he couldn't cope rather than being 'spoilt' or 'naughty'. Age and some good advice from books and professionals got those sort of under control! It's hard to get the balance between discipline and compassion right though.

Be easy on yourself, as I say it is very hard to be worrying about your DS like this - I used to get terribly upset - and bloomin hard work dealing with a kid who is having a tough time too.

Good on you for recognising there may - and I say MAY - be difficulties here and taking steps to investigate. Do read up stuff in books and the internet too, some of the 'professionals' were wonderful but some didn't have a clue! Do come back and tell us how you get on and feel free to contact me anytime x

Troutpout Sun 26-Oct-08 11:46:26

I had the same worries about a label..wouldn't we all? I was so afraid of it.It took me a long time to come to terms with it.I found that period absolutely heartbreaking tbh. ...with lack of support from family and school and not knowing for sure (but having strong feelings) that all was not right with my boy.
Do you know what though? in our case..i found that an unwillingness to tackle the issue was bringing 'labels' of it's own for my boy.Labels of the wrong sort..

'naughty'
'lazy'
'odd'
'wierd'
'boy genius'
'day dreamer'
'loner'

He was having a really difficult time from teachers and peers because all of these labels that people were so quick to give him.
It has by no means been all a ride in the park since making the decision to go for a dx.. don't get me wrong. There was a real period of grief for me when i finally started getting the things i had been saying confirmed back to me.It was still a shock.It was like my life had changed in an instant.

However...the key thing has been help. It has been access to things he didn't have (like understanding for one!)It has meant he is protected from all those labels above.Most importantly for him i think, it has answered questions about 'feeling different' that he begun to form in his own mind and begun to blame on the labels they had given him rather than the label of 'aspergers'
What a relief! smile

It's such a personal thing though isn't it? For me it has been a good thing..but i can see running's points too - we are all different.Running is right..your boy will still be finding his feet ...he's still really little.smile You have to go with your own child. You have to respond to whats going on at that moment.My child really had no big problems at school untill he was about 8-9 (he's 11 now) and the social side became much more subtle and the differences between him and his peers became much more obvious.
We only began going for a dx at that age and he only got a formal dx at 10. (it took blardy ages!)

I just want also to add that the dx has let me value his quirks in a way that i couldn't before. Before they had become such a source of hardship at home and and school...everywhere really.
He's still hard work at times of course and i still worry myself sick about him...but i've stopped feeling so bloody guilty now.It has allowed me take a step back and relax about my lovely boy in all his 'uniqueness' smile

kettlechip Sun 26-Oct-08 19:42:27

hi there, think the advice above is great, nothing to add there but just wanted to say, if you look on the Special Needs section, there are lots of very knowledgeable and friendly people in very similar situations who will be able to give you advice and support.
Good luck!

Kazann Sun 26-Oct-08 19:43:14

We are going for a DX for our DD mainly because we want to help her more if you know what the problem is you can read up on it get advice from other people and get some professional help as well. I know i will still be upset when we find out, however long that may take, but i just need to know like you Troutpout we have no support from family and i swear they all thing we have a naughty out of control child. I would like to find out and turn round to all those people and say this is what is wrong, can you please help us now, it may not work like that but going to give it a try.

Everyone is different though and you are the only one who can decide what is best for you and your DS, he is still quite young and school don't seem to have any concerns so maybe he is just settling in and feeling his feet, perhaps when he has a parents evening you could voice your concerns to the teacher and she could keep an eye out to see if she notices anything.

Kids they are such a worry, but bring so much joy as well good luck with whatever you choose to do and keep us all posted, take care

mybabywakesupsinging Sun 26-Oct-08 23:51:35

troutpout that list of labels is rather worringly spot-on for ds1. He is very young atm (3) but it is fairly obvious he is not having an easy time in life (obsessions etc which can drive him to tears if not allowed to do).
I'm reluctant to see if he has a Dx as yet, because my worry would be that people might then expect the worst from him. It makes me sad and angry when nursery report at length about him wanting to play obsessively with the light switches/doors again (he does this when stressed/tired and always stops when they tell him not to), but were amazed when he wrote his name on his paintings (he has done this for a least a year and was very surprised when congratulated). I await their surprise if they ever listen to him rabbitting about numbers, or telling the time ("in 2014 I will be 9 years old"). He also has perfect pitch and much better relative pitch than me...
My point after all that rambling is that his "bad" behaviours already seem to be noticed and commented on much more than his gifts and "good" behaviours...and I would, as I said, worry that he might be expected to behave in a certain way if he had a particular diagnostic label.
I wonder if some of his issues/obsessions will improve as he gets older and finds more "usual" ways of dealing with things, as well.
Always hard to know what to do for the best, I suppose.

lisad123 Mon 27-Oct-08 00:45:00

Only read OP, but seems to be "normal" behaviour. My DD1 who is 5years is very simular. She has obbessions about drawing, doing things a clean way, cleanness, and doesnt mix well with others or in large groups.
She too hates the loo flush and also used to scream at sound of a rainmaker toy and hoover. Im keeping an eye on things, but i think its pretty normal for their age and someone told me, bright children are even worse shock hth

Boyswillbeboys Mon 27-Oct-08 09:47:30

Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to read and advise, I feel much better just for being able to share this and hear your stories too. I will definitely talk with the teacher first (we have a parents evening next week - half term this week) and then go to the GP. I am most concerned about the social side of things at school because I just hate the thought of him being left out and lonely.

DS2 can be so sweet and co-operative at times and then at others he is totally irrational. Yesterday was not good - he had a huge tantrum because the biscuit I gave him from the packet wasn't "fresh" - he insisted that he had to have another one, and after about 10 minutes of me trying to reason with him I gave in and let him chose another one. Later on he had another tantrum because his brother opened the gate when we got home, instead of him, and a mega panic about when DH was coming home because he insists on opening the door for him. I know these all sound like trivial things, but they are just a few, I feel like my day is taken up just going from one obsession to another.

Lisa, my DS also has a thing about keeping clean - gets really upset if he spills something on himself etc.

lisad123 Mon 27-Oct-08 10:45:36

oh god yeah the obbessions are terrible. Any change in routine results in me explaining every little thing in detail hmm

lingle Mon 27-Oct-08 10:49:14

So many factors in deciding whether seeking diagnosis is best for your son

- it seems it can genuinely help parents feel more positive about child, resulting in happier home

- it also however seems that these labels are not easily peeled off.

One other thing to think about - what is the attitude of the teachers about possible Aspergers? I visited one private school (at a time when I had concerns about my DS2)where the reception teacher appeared to have a fear and loathing of anyone with ASD and told me an anecdote about one of her charges who'd been suspected as having ASD but didn't after all. You've have thought it was something infectious from the way she said it. She seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he might have many traits in common with ASD children.

themildmanneredaxemurderer Mon 27-Oct-08 10:53:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

themildmanneredaxemurderer Mon 27-Oct-08 10:55:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shylily Mon 27-Oct-08 21:13:52

This is my standing answer for everything at the moment so please forgive me if you've seen it on another post! wink
I have just read 'How to talk so children listen and how to listen so children talk' (Faber and Mazlish). Have you read it? I found the general philosphy suits my approach to parenting and the specific examples of how to approach problems were just what I need (it's in comic strip format too which definitely worked for my attention span)! I wonder if some of the ideas about problem solving and helping children express their feelings might help with your DS?
Hope things get easier.

pushkar Tue 28-Oct-08 09:38:50

is it asd? your child certainly has sensory issues could be in need of an occupational therapist and a sesnory diet ask for a referral
look up sensory diet on google you will see loads of ideas, one is a place to hibernate like a pop up tent or under a blanket or squash with cushions on their torso all to releive sensory anxiety,
ther is a great book caled the out of sync child by carol stock kranowitz, you can get in a bookshop if you order it or amazon...

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