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DS 'switching off' is this normal? What to do?

(15 Posts)
MiscellaneousAssortment Sun 15-Jan-17 11:41:26

DS is 6, almost 7 and I'm increasingly concerned about the way he just switches off / disengages from everything.

I've noticed before that he withdraws into himself if he gets upset or over whelmed, but that's typically been in situations where he gets so flooded with emotion, rather than everyday stuff.

But now it's like he has a tiny window of concentration and then he just switches off and starts making mistakes and loses all basic common sense or thinking. And it's happening throughout the day now, and getting worse not better. I'm sure he didn't used to be like this and it means it's really hard to do stuff with him, and just basic daily tasks have become like pulling teeth!

E.g. Made jam tarts yesterday after him begging to do it for ages. Was great for the first few minutes, engaged, listening, having lots of fun, which meant I could let him to lots of it, with me helping, and encouraging and praising him etc. Really nice positive bonding time. Then I put pastry in fridge to rest for a few mins, and when we started up again it was like doing it with a completely different child. A child who was distracted although claimed to want to do it, and got upset when I said we should stop. But then behaved so badly it was impossible to finish.

He tipped milk all over the floor and didn't even seem aware he was doing it, even when I was shouting at him to stop (after the third or fourth time I'd tried to get him to notice what he was doing). He just stared and carried on. He picked up the wrong things (like, picked up a lemon when I asked him to pick up the rolling pin), couldn't remember what he was doing two seconds into doing it, again and again and again, not just once or twice. He ignored everything I said, whether it was joking or nice or instructions or me trying to get his attention.

Final straw for me was him carefully and yet without really noticing what he was doing, tipping up a plate after he'd been told to watch the crumbs on it, and he had said yes, then just phased out and held the plate upside down for no reason at all, and didn't even seem aware he'd done it or then why crumbs weren't still on the plate. Then straight after that he took his apron off then walked into the lounge and put on on the piano keyboard ... for no reason! He knew that apron had cooking stuff on it and he knew he'd just spilled crumbs everywhere from the plate, and he knew that his (brand new massively special Christmas present) needs to be kept clean and no food or mess near it... yet he still did it, and then looked completely blank when I asked him why he'd done it. And then he did the same thing with the apron about 10 mins later,.. I actually cannot clear up the mess he makes quick enough as its bloody constant.

And he's (apparently) surprised and confused each time???

I don't know if this extreme 'absentminded ness' is him behaving badly on purpose, or a sign of something being wrong with him, or a phase they all go through or what?!

I really dont know if it's a 'can't' focus/ engage or a 'can't be bothered' type of situation. Or deliberate behaviour.

Either way I need to change the way I'm reacting to it, I'm normally so patient with him sad but it would help a lot if I knew what was going on.

MiscellaneousAssortment Mon 16-Jan-17 19:24:45


cariboo Mon 16-Jan-17 19:31:56

I'm really guessing but could it be absence seizures or bipolar disorder? Take him to the GP.

redexpat Mon 16-Jan-17 19:34:30

Have school mentioned any concerns?

redexpat Mon 16-Jan-17 19:35:59

If we are arm chair diagnosing then I would have guessed ADD attention deficiency disorder.

AllTheLight Mon 16-Jan-17 19:37:21

Hmm, from your description I'd feel a bit concerned about this if I were you. It's normal for a 6/7 yo to get distracted easily and forget instructions, but this sounds worse than I'd expect, especially the bit about picking up a lemon when you asked him to pick up a rolling pin. Have you spoken to his teacher about this? Has he/she noticed similar?

wannabestressfree Mon 16-Jan-17 19:38:50

My parents/ teachers used to call me dolly daydream in the late 70s early 80s.
They were in fact temperal lobe seizures and I was diagnosed in my teens. I am still on meds now.

cariboo Mon 16-Jan-17 19:43:23

It certainly could be something more serious than "naughtiness". Please get him checked by a physician.

DearMrDilkington Mon 16-Jan-17 19:43:32

It doesn't sound like his doing it on purpose. Take him to the gp.

P1nkP0ppy Mon 16-Jan-17 19:44:54

You need to get him checked out by GP asap op, that's certainly not normal behaviour. It sounds like absence seizures to me.

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 17-Jan-17 10:07:09

Ok, serious stuff.
Will take him to the GP.

Thanks so much for replying (although I'd much rather hear that it's normal and nothing to worry about).

I'll need to be able to answer GPs questions properly. What should I be looking for that might distinguish something like ADD from absence seizures?

What kind of things should I be noting/ noticing?

And what strategies do people use to manage this type of thing if it's not a physical illness? I'm not managing well right now, so it would be good if I could try reacting differently to see if I can help him snap out of it (if that's possible)?

Two things that stick out for me are that:
1. it's not his normal, something has changed. Which could be emotional, behavioural or physical I guess.
2. And that he doesn't know / can't explain why he's done stuff afterwards. Although that could be that he doesn't have the words to explain, or doesn't want to explain, rather than he literally doesn't know what just happened.

He does say 'I don't know' when he thinks an adult won't like the answer. It's just he doesn't do that to me as up until now we've had a really close and gentle relationship.

Don't know much about things like absence seizures, but the word 'absence' is spot on. It does feel like he's absent, or behind a wall of some sort. I need to work out what that wall is...

I feel terrible for not even thinking it could be a physical illness/ condition. My poor baby sad

picklemepopcorn Tue 17-Jan-17 10:21:29

The doctors need to know what you see, when it happens and as you say, how it has changed. They know what to ask. You know your son. That's all you need, Good luck!

Just2MoreSeasons Tue 17-Jan-17 18:43:59

Also sounds like you need to see a go to me (I have a 7 year old and she wouldn't do any of that).
Try to video it if you can go show the doctor. Also children are often tired after a seizure or weepy, try to look out for that too.
Hope you get to the bottom of it flowers

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 17-Jan-17 18:46:57

I'm not sure what I see though! I need to do more observing ...

FrogsLegs31 Tue 17-Jan-17 18:57:25

Absence seizures are often characterised by certain physical signs.

One of my students had this and was undiagnosed till recently.
The first time I saw it we were mid conversation about what to do with some chemicals and a Bunsen burner! I was asking him a question and while still stood up his chin dropped, his arms went slack, his eyelids fluttered and his mouth opened and closed noiselessly. This lasted for just 5-10 seconds, long enough for me to say his name as a question and then he was back.
I asked him if he had heard me speak to him and he said no, that it was just one of his 'daydreams'!

They can be much shorter with only eye movements as well.

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