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Desperately sad for my sister :(

(18 Posts)
SadSisterr Wed 19-Feb-14 14:10:11

My sister is on the verge of sending her son to live with his dad and it's tearing her apart. Her son has what I think is aspergers (not been diagnosed, I just see the traits of it) and it's tearing her family apart, they just can't cope with him anymore. She's been toying with the idea of having him move in with his dad who lives an hour and a half away but now it seems to have come down to that being a real possibility and it probably happening. I'm a mother as well and can't begin to imagine the pain of making this choice sad we had a shit mother and she keeps comparing herself with her, I've told her how stupid that is as she's nothing like her but she obviously feels like a failure as a parent.

How can I help her through this? I don't know what to say and am terrified of saying the wrong thing. Has anyone else been through anything like this? What helped you?

LurkingNineToFive Wed 19-Feb-14 14:16:21

If she was a shit mum she wouldn't be so worried about making the best decision for her family. Sometimes there are no perfect solutions you just have to do what you think will turn out to be the best thing for everyone. She needs to get a diagnosis and support if he does have ASD. ASD children need to be 'managed' in a different way and she may find she can get some of his behaviours under control.

SadSisterr Wed 19-Feb-14 14:21:27

They're trying to get him diagnosed but it's taking a long time and it looks as if he'll have gone to his dads by the time the diagnosis comes through. If he's going to move then it needs to be before he starts secondary school this year to give him time to settle in to the area and new situation.
I just wish I could wave a magic wand and stop her heart from breaking sad

AprilDayGirl Wed 19-Feb-14 14:43:09

I don't know much about children, but I have an adult friend who suffers from Aspergers. Apart from struggling with basic social interaction, he is having major difficulty adapting to changes, including something totally insignificant such as finishing work 20 minutes earlier or later one day or having a meal with different ingredients. I'm not questioning her decision, but there is a chance that sending the child to his father might worsen his condition or maybe make it worse before making it better. Has your sister got another DP/other DC in the household? What makes her think the child would be better off with his father?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 19-Feb-14 16:09:24

Is the motivation for this because she can't cope with her DS's behaviour or is it because she thinks the father would do a better job? How much involvement does Dad currently have in DS's upbringing? Is he confident he can manage the behaviour problems solo? Have they looked at sharing the parenting better? (I'm assuming living so far apart means that it's difficult to go 50/50 and more of the responsibility falls on your sister)

DrJeanGrey Wed 19-Feb-14 17:59:45

How old is her son?

ASD can seem overwhelming to deal with, but if the parents are educated on how to manage it it can turn on it's head and become much easier.I know how hard it is to cope (from first hand experience with my own son) but I can say it's just a case of learning how to do it. For me the first 6 years were a nightmare, I thought I was a terrible mother and felt like everyone could do a better job than me.

Please look into the Cygnet program, which is designed to help those parenting kids with ASD. This course is a wonderful thing and can really transform things at home. There is also a fantastic book by Brenda Boyd called "Parenting a Child with Aspergers Syndrome" that is very helpful.

Diagnosed or not...if YOU see the traits, then your sis should start employing the strategies. Once there is a diagnosis he will get the support he needs in school and this will transform things at home.

ASD children find forgiveness very hard - it's a black and white world and anger can be a problem so if your sister does this it might be very hard to repair the relationship and may have a negative impact unless her son wants this move.

It's a very difficult job, supporting your sister is a wonderful thing but if you can get it right you find the child does flourish and stops being "difficult". I would not change my son for all the tea in china but there is no way I could have done it without expert help and a lot of research.

SadSisterr Wed 19-Feb-14 18:53:01

He's 10/11 (bad auntie, can't remember exact age!). He struggles to take direction from his step dad, has admitted he can't stand him and I think that is one of the main things that is causing the problem. She feels like she's having to choose between her son and her marriage and is worried about how things will get when he is a teenager.
He does seem to listen to his dad more and gets on well with his step mum.

I do think she would be better off waiting until she gets an official diagnosis from CAHMS but I think she's just at the end of her tether and feels like she has to make a decision now. Little things are turning in to big things. My nephew is lying a lot and doesn't seem to care about other peoples feelings.

I will have a look at that book and the Cygnet programme, are they meant for children a lot younger though?

DrJeanGrey Wed 19-Feb-14 18:58:33

The stepdad, if he loves your sister, has to commit to being a stepparent to a kid with extra needs. That means he has to learn about the condition.

ASD kids will butt heads with people frequently if they feel like they are not understood - and they often spend most of their time being misunderstood.

No Cygnet is good for kids of any age...even adults! The book is also brilliant. Whatever the age, the system is the same.

The key really is understanding. If the child feels understood, he will become more compliant, willing and happy. If the parents understand, they will have different reactions.

We used to become very annoyed with my son over his insistence in doing things over and over after being told not to. It's exhausting.

When we learned how to talk to him, and when he got a diagnosis and proper support in school he changed completely.

He feels different. He feels misunderstood*.

For him, it might be that doing something you or I find very simple is absolutely exhausting, and he will often feel he is getting it wrong without understanding why.

Please help this little boy. His Mum might feel overwhelmed but there is so much help in this country if you look for it.

DrJeanGrey Wed 19-Feb-14 19:00:08

Also though, people with ASD rarely lie...if they do, they are genuinely not any good at it.

MamaMary Wed 19-Feb-14 19:01:21

No experience with Aspergers, but this does seem like a drastic move...

I do feel for your sister, but you are right in that she needs to ivnestigate all the options before committing to this. sad

SadSisterr Wed 19-Feb-14 19:05:21

Thank you, that is really good advice.
He does seem to lie a lot and will omit the truth also.

I will do my very best to help him. If he does end up moving to his dads then that will mean he is a lot closer to me so I could involve him in my day to day life a lot more.

DrJeanGrey Wed 19-Feb-14 19:14:30

Having ASD doesn't mean all symptoms will present. He might lie, I am just saying it is very unusual.

I think a move like this might scar him. Please try and find alternative solutions. Rejections like this at this age leave damage on a child.

This is not meant to offend, but at the age of 10 or 11 he is not responsible for problems at home. The home needs to adapt to parent him in an effective way.

With some kids it is easy, with other kids it is really, really, really hard.

Taking him for a visit would give your sister some respite.

DistanceCall Wed 19-Feb-14 19:20:10

Does your nephew want to go and live with his father?

If so, hard though it may be for your sister, I can't see why not, if his father loves him and can provide him with a loving home. It doesn't have to mean that he won't see your sister any more (there's always the holidays, perhaps some weekends, trips). But if he is having problems with his step-father, he may be missing his Dad and some father-son bonding might be a good idea.

Sorcha1966 Wed 19-Feb-14 19:27:52

My eldest son has ASD and lies constantly about everything. its because he says what seems expedient at the moment and he fails to appreciate the consequences of persistent lying (complete and total lack of trust) ...

SadSisterr Wed 19-Feb-14 19:32:55

I'd love to have him visit but for various reasons it just not possible. I have been to theirs a couple of times and looked after her children while they have a break away but it's obviously no help with day to day life for them.

There is a lot of resentment with the step dad and I don't know if they can ever get past it if neither of them like each other much. Her husband has tried his hardest and been quite patient but I get the feeling he is also at the end of his tether now and lost all patience.

I think my nephew struggles with anxiety in certain situations and I know they find that hard to understand. He hides his anxiety and isn't vocal about it and I think they see it as him playing up. I can sympathise massively with him here as I've struggled with anxiety myself and know how stupid and unnecessary it can seem to other people.

Argh, I can't see myself what the best decision will be. I just want what's best for him but there's no way of knowing really sad

DrJeanGrey Wed 19-Feb-14 19:39:22

Sorcha1966 I did experience that with mine too when he was younger, but it was the quality of the lies that differentiated betwen himself and his neuro-typical brother.

Where the NT child tells well thought out, believable lies, the ASD one would tell terrible ones and look very uncomfortable smile He now never lies because "lying is wrong" and of course he adheres to rigid rules of right and wrong. I wish he did lie, when I ask him if my breath smells or if I look fat smile

Stepdad might be trying OP, but he is trying the wrong way. If you try the right way - it becomes much easier.

My son's stepdad had similar problems, and when we went on the Cygnet course he cried for being so ashamed of misjudging my boy.

SadSisterr Wed 19-Feb-14 19:43:32

See it's just hard to be giving out loads of advice when I've no experience of it myself. I can't start telling them I think they might be trying in the wrong way as it's obviously a very sensitive subject and I don't want to upset her further. I can't see how they will ever see out of the rut they are in. They're struggling to see anything positive and can't get out of that frame of mind iykwim.

DrJeanGrey Wed 19-Feb-14 20:12:31

Hmm...sounds like they don't want a solution?

I don't think you need personal experience, you need to say "I did a bit of research and...."

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