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Really struggling with 8yo DS

(12 Posts)
DimeBarLady Wed 09-Dec-20 21:09:46

I don’t really know how to say this without sounding like a complete failure of a mother but I’m really struggling with my eldest son. I love him deeply, obviously, I just find him really, really hard to get along with.

He’s an incredibly smart child - his teacher has said his reading level is of that of a 14/15 year old and that she’s never known a child of his age to have such a large vocabulary. He is pretty good at maths and science but nothing exceptional. He loves reading and will happily do that for several hours each evening.

He’s a very ‘odd’ child. He’s always been very quiet and quite vacant. I thought he might be autistic and he had an assessment at 5yo. The lady said she didn’t think he was autistic as he was engaged, made eye contact and reacted typically to different pictures/ scenarios that she showed him. Since then he moved to a new school and has made friends and genuinely seems quite popular at school. We’ve had a few of his friends over for play dates but he’s just read a book and totally ignored them. I’ve tried to get him to engage but once he’s picked up a book he’s gone to the world and it’s been left to me and his 4yo brother to entertain his friend. Despite this he has always claimed to enjoy having friends over and not understood why these kids haven’t wanted to come round again.

The main thing I struggle with is his complete lack of awareness to anything. I need to give him incredibly specific instructions to do anything and even then I’ll need to constantly remind him or he’ll just zone out. So for example every morning I’ll have to say ‘go into the bathroom and do a wee, wash your hands with soap, dry your hands, put your red toothpaste on your blue toothbrush, put water on it, brush your teeth, spit it out and dry your mouth.’ If I miss any of these steps out he won’t do them or will try and use my toothbrush or will get in the shower because he can’t remember why I’ve told him to go into the bathroom. As soon as I stop hearing movement o have to go in and remind him as he’ll have just stopped and be staring into space. Several times a week he’ll get dressed for school (me having given similar instructions) but then wander into his bedroom while I’m in the shower or something, get undressed and put his pyjamas on because he thinks it’s bedtime. Every single school day he will put his trainers/ welly boots on to leave the house despite me saying ‘look at what your wearing and try and work out where we’re going before you put your shoes on’.

I don’t think he does it on purpose at all. He just absolutely has his head in the clouds and can’t focus at all. It doesn’t seem to be a problem at school as he just does his work in a couple of minutes then either gets started on his classmates work as well or stares out of the window until it’s the end of the lesson. The only time it’s caused an issue at school is once at swimming he insisted on having a private cubicle to get changed in, the teacher told him to hurry up after about 15 minutes and he started crying because his swimming stuff was wet and he didn’t want to put it on. He’d already been swimming, got himself dressed, then got himself undressed again because he thought it was the start of the lesson.

Everyone else finds it really funny. DS1 doesn’t think it’s an issue. DS2 is only 4 and is constantly helping him find things as he can never remember where anything is and telling him what’s happening next. But it’s driving me to absolute despair. It’s getting to the point that I’m really struggling to be around him as everything is just such a slog all the time.

I don’t know what to do. Has anyone else ever met a child like this? Is it a doctor issue? I’m a single parent so no one else really sees quite how bad it is. It’s just constant and I just can’t ever see a time when I’ll be happy to let him out of my sight because he’s such a liability.

OP’s posts: |
TheYearOfSmallThings Wed 09-Dec-20 21:19:02

I have to say he sounds a lot like my DS, who has also been assessed for autism, but not diagnosed for exactly the same reasons. All the things that caused him to be referred for ADOS were then not really assessed during it, so he scored low.

I don't have any solutions, but I share your sense of despair at having to prod him along or else he just...stops. I find other people don't quite understand the issue, probably because I have never explained it as well as you have.

TheYearOfSmallThings Wed 09-Dec-20 21:23:15

Btw do you mind me asking if your DS was unusually passive as a baby and toddler? Looking back, even at that age DS didn't have the same drive to start, progress and finish an action, compared to peers.

DimeBarLady Wed 09-Dec-20 21:28:13

theyearofsmallthongs I can’t tell you good it is to hear he’s not the only one! Ds was very passive as a baby - incredibly easy until he was about 2yo, rarely cried, slept like a dream but was late smiling, didn’t laugh until he was gone 2, got up and walked one day at about 18mo despite having shown no interest before.

OP’s posts: |
notdaddycool Wed 09-Dec-20 21:35:37

I'm Dyspraxic, google it! My mum tells me she'd send me upstairs to do one thing and I'd come down 20 mins later having done something totally different. If she told me multiple things then OMG.... If he's happy then I wouldn't be too worried. I am relatively intelligent but was a very socially awkward child - when I was old enough to read the book about the condition I understood myself a lot better and learned how to be a bit more normal with relationships, but they were learned not natural reactions. Now happily married for over a decade, lovely family with children I don't see the difficult bits of me in and working in a job that is all about relationships... wierd one...

TheYearOfSmallThings Wed 09-Dec-20 21:37:07

Yes, DS has always been a good sleeper, was late to crawl (IMO because he was never curious or driven to reach things) and didn't walk until 17 months. In a playground he just wanted to sit in a swing for hours, and he probably would never have climbed the slide if I didn't basically force him to.

And like you, I can go into the bathroom and find he's stalled with a mouthful of water because he was rinsing and lost focus, and is now standing there like a puffer fish thinking about God knows what, and would stay there all day if not restarted.

It is very draining.

Puddlelane123 Wed 09-Dec-20 21:38:47

That must be really hard OP, and I can appreciate your worry totally. My gut instinct says it would be worth going through the GP to request having him re-assessed as this sounds very challenging for both you and him. The example of him putting his pjs back on and thinking it is bedtime also makes me wonder if there is any chance he might be having small but frequent absence seizures throughout the day. They can be tricky to diagnose but often present as odd behaviours when the train of thought is constantly interrupted in this way. Might be worth considering?

SkaterGrrrrl Wed 09-Dec-20 21:41:57

My nephew who is a bright but very quiet and private, self sufficient child has recently been diagnosed with a mild form of autism which is a difficulty in processing verbal instructions....

TheYearOfSmallThings Wed 09-Dec-20 21:43:48

That's reassuring notdaddycool - in DS's case they didn't mean towards dyspraxia for various reasons, but I suppose these things may be more evident with age.

Did you get better at completing tasks and organising yourself?

Rocket1982 Wed 09-Dec-20 22:00:47

It doesn't sound like he's not driven - he is very driven to read and very good at it! I think I was a bit similar as a kid, read for hours a day, had a high reading age and daydreamed constantly. Now I'm an academic and wish I still daydreamed so much, it is good for thinking creatively! When I was a kid everyone though I had my head in the clouds and and even now my family express surprise when I do practical things (cook, clean, hire a car and drive, sew on a button, go camping - I'm fine with all of it but they think I have the same personality I had as a child). He does need to learn practical skills to take care of himself. You have my sympathy - I think I really drove my mum round the bend sometimes as she had to repeat herself many times and I wouldn't process it because I was daydreaming. She thought I had a hearing problem.

TheresSnowHelpForUs Wed 09-Dec-20 22:05:13

There are some overlaps there with my 8yo DS who has diagnoses of ASD and dyspraxia. But with your son I actually wonder whether it could be ADHD? It would be worth taking another look at whether he has some form neurodiversity I think.

Keepdistance Wed 09-Dec-20 22:08:36

Similar to my dd 8yo.
Even the high reading age (11).
But dd wouldnt get rechanged.
Exactly the same with shoes. But not sure if she is messing about.

We managed to go out without either dc coat last week as
- Dc just lets us do everything
-dc1 have to chivvy to do teeth/hair/clothes/toilet it's very easy to miss a step

Have to do everything at bedtime too
If i didnt dc1 would go to bed without a wee of brushed teeth etc.

Dc2 5 is actually better

Dc1 struggles a little with maths so maybe it's sequencing or holding the steps in head.

She was the opposite of passive as a baby, has always been quite adhd and impulsive.
I agree with pp about not finishing stuff. Doesnt finish games or art etc.

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