Opinions please - is there something 'wrong' with my son?(31 Posts)
DS is 6.8 and I've had problems with his behaviour since he was a toddler but I feel nobody is taking my concerns seriously.
He does well at school, is exceptionally good at Maths and is also very good at reading, although he doesn't enjoy writing much. He is well behaved in school too, has lots of friends and generally keeps his head down and gets on with his work.
However, it can be challenging for me to get him to school in the morning, he hates getting ready, getting dressed and getting to school, will often refuse, there's been many times when I have had to pin him down and get him dressed (which isn't easy as he's tall and strong!).
He gets very anxious and worried if we are late or if he has forgotten something, eg if he's left his book bag at home or if he's forgotten his homework, he'll refuse to go in school out of fear of getting in trouble, he's even tried to run off a few times.
He'll sometimes refuse to go to new places, gets very apprehensive and anxious about new things/people/places.
Eg he was invited to a party at a trampoline park a few weeks ago, he knew all the children there but he refused to go in or take part. He ran off out of the building.
Once we got him in the cafe and he had a drink and a cake he soon cheered up and went and joined in and had a wonderful time.
This kind of thing happens often, we have missed out on doing so many things because he refuses to go.
His behaviour is really unpredictable, one minute he can be fine, the next he can be having an almighty tantrum about almost nothing.
He gets very angry about little things, sometimes he lashes out and hits and kicks me.
He doesn't seem bothered about people seeing him having a tantrum, he lashed out at me in front of his friend the other week, hit me and kicked me and ran away and hid from me. Wasn't bothered in the slightest about looking silly in front of his friend.
He's very very sensitive to being hungry, he has a good appetite and eats well but he claims to be absolutely starving when he comes out of school, 9/10 times when he has one of his melt downs it is after school or when it is approaching a meal time.
However, the dentist has told me to try and avoid snacking as he's developed a cavity, so what am I to do?
He's also very sensitive to sounds eg hand dryers (he always uses disabled toilets to avoid them), hair dryers, the sound of hair clippers in the hair dressers etc.
I think he's quite possibly depressed, he keeps saying that everybody hates him and that he wants to run away, he's made comments about just wanting to stay in bed all day.
I've spoken to his teacher about his behaviour and his mood on numour occasions but she hasn't done anything to help. At his last parents evening she said she would speak to the SENCO to see if they could offer any support but I've heard nothing.
I've also spoken to GP about it and again she just shrugged it off, I mentioned that I have wondered if he has SPD but she said she has never heard of it and just said ''well every child is different''.
I just feel that because DS is doing well at school and his behaviour is good there, they're not really too bothered about what is going on at home or how he is feeling.
This weekend I sat down with DS to do his homework and we read that his teacher has written on last week's homework ''this is very messy work'', no comment about the wonderful sums he has done all by himself. He got sooo upset by it, said he was going to punch and kick his teacher etc etc. He was heart broken, said he was never going to school again.
I just don't understand why a teacher who knows how sensitive he is, who I have spoken to about how unhappy he is, about how he doesn't like going to school, would write that comment. I'm so upset by it.
I've emailed school and asked to speak to the Head about it.
I think when DS was 3/4 years old his behaviour could just be passed off as 'normal' but now as he's getting older I really think it's not typical behaviour and he needs to some help.
I feel like I'm going mad here, can anyone relate to these problems and help me get the help we need?
Sorry for the huge post, just didn't want to drip feed.
He sounds very anxious and sensitive which could well stem from a SpLD. Ds has dyspraxia and some of what you mention could have related to him , but several conditions can coexist or share traits so really you need a comprehensive assessment. If school don't refer try your gp.
Who do I need to ask for him to be referred to for an assessment?
I saw this on active posts, and am not an Sen expert, but he sounds horribly anxious. I would see about a referral to camhs in the first instance. Can you self refer if your GP isn't helpful?
A friend recommends the book 'Parenting the Explosive Child'. Her son, who does have asd, but these methods are helpful for lots of children with and without a diagnosis, is also helped by visual timetables, social stories and researching new events before they go so he knows what things look like, where the loos are etc.
It might also be worth looking into techniques for dealing with children who have pathological demand avoidance as they can be helpful for children with anxiety.
Finally, I massively sympathise with him getting hangry. I could easily punch someone by 3pm if I don't have a decent snack. Can he have a protein rich snack at afternoon playtime to keep him going. Or more protein at lunch?
He sounds very similar to my son. He has ASD/PDA and SPD.
I would do some research around this area (in our case asperger's mostly fit, PDA was like a lightbulb).
Talk to the headteacher and explain what's going on, ask if he could be referred to an education psychologist, who may spot things going on in the classroom that the teacher won't.
My son is very well behaved at school, and an angry wreck at home.
If you think ASD or SPD fits, ask your GP for a referral to a developmental paed. Telling you that all children are different is a complete cop out. If you keep a diary, it may help as evidence.
Some GPs don't have a lot of knowledge around these things. We were told repeatedly that our son had no issues (apart from parenting), because he was fine at school. With ASD though, it is well documented that many children hold it in during the school day and save it all for home. (Can link you to some documents if you want)
The Explosive Child is very good, and the website that goes with it is called Lives in the Balance.
If you're on FB, the autism discussion page is well worth a read, it's very good for strategies.
Of course, he may not have any of this, but those ^^ are still worth a look at.
I would write down everything. While you are doing thar have a think about his development. Did he crawl, did speech develop normally etcc.
Your GP has never heard of SPD but many GPs havent. Perhaps print something off for your GP and then ask for a referral to a developmental paediatrician or child development clinic. You need to be able to go over all this with someone who knows about SPD. From what you have posted it sounds quite possible.
I'll try and find the book you recommend, he is definitelty explosive!
He may even have pathological demand avoidance, he says it makes him angry when he is told what to do.
I do also thing because he is extremely bright for his age he thinks in his mind that he is an adult and it makes him angry when he isn't treated like one.
I do also get hangry lol..but I don't punch my mum when I am haha. I will speak to the teacher about whether he'd be able to have a snack in the afternoon.
He has school dinners as I was finding he was worse when he was on packed lunches, they just weren't filling him up enough.
I think sometimes people must think that I'm letting him get away with murder but I've found from experience that getting mad with him or being really strict just makes him worse, if I tell him off he just gets really angry with me. I need to try and calm him down and then when he is calm talk to him about what made him angry and ways we could try and help him next time he feels that way.
He does get privileages taken away from him if he's been really naughty though, so he's not getting away with being naughty.
No idea whether how I'm dealing with it is right or wrong, just had to try and find a way that works for us.
Other Mums have said they'd bollock their kids if they'd done what DS does but screaming at him just makes him 10 times worse.
He possibly could have high functioning ASD? I know of a few children who have muddled through with things seeming more pronounced as they reach 8/9. Alternatively he might just be very sensitive in a different way. With parties I'd recommend arriving 5/10 minutes early and letting him sit on the edges of things until he feels ready to join in.
My friend gave me a book called the highly sensitive child (aaron) last month and it has been amazing!!
I know a child who is very similar and the parents. 'Know' he is on the Aspergers spectrum. Never been officially assessed but the parents know and understand his behaviour and manage situations well. They never treat him as 'normal' and hence he copes better I think. E.g. You mentioned the birthday party behaviour. He is similar but the parents always bring him although they know he mostly won't join in.
My sensitive son would react hugely to a bollocking. I'm strict but use understanding/empathy and get DS on side. The sensitive child book helped hugely
Alfienoisy - yes DS developed perfectly fine, he crawled/walked etc at an average age, his speech was scarily advanced, started his first words at about 8 months, could have a conversation at 18 months.
Physically absolutely fine, and mentally advanced for his age, always has been.
He isn't very sporty, not the fastest at running etc but is good at more skillful/technical sports like cricket and pool.
Hates being upside down, hates swimming on his back or doing things like roley poleys.
It is difficult to say whether you are dealing with SN or MH issues but you are definitely having issues and need support. I think getting either an educational professional or a medical professional on board has to be the first port of call. It is very difficult when you know something is wrong but you are not sure what it is, we are just through this having got an ASD diagnosis for our DC3. The diagnosis gives you something to work from but from reading on here there can be real challenges getting it.
In the meantime getting some general strategies that will deal with the specific issues you are facing will help. Another good read on SPD is the 'out of sync child'.
As pp have said, whatever is happening here, you need support. It is very common for children to hold it together during school and then blow up at home as a result of difficulties such as asd. However how asd presents and what will help can vary from child to child. That's before you add in any other conditions and mh issues.
My ds (6) has aspergers but with a behaviour profile more closely linked to pda. We are lucky in that we've never had any problem getting professionals to acknowledge that there is a problem because he can be so violent. Getting the right support is a different matter
I'd go back to your GP.
Do I have to take DS with me when I speak to GP? I don't like talking about his behaviour in front of people, don't like him to feel like I'm telling tales or having a go/moan about it.
There is a new GP who I have found really helpful with my own mental health problems, a lovely young GP with young kids of his own, hopefully he'll be more helpful and supportive than the last GP I saw about DS.
Thanks for all the advice, tips and support on here. I don't feel so much like I'm imagining it all.
DS has a good life, I am here for him 24/7, I take him to school every morning, pick him up every afternoon, I work from home in the evenings but even though I am working I'm still here to tuck him in to bed, tell him I love him, read with him etc.
We have a nice home, he has everything he needs but without being spoilt.
DH and I are calm, fairly chilled out people, we rarely argue, we aren't angry people. This is definitely not behaviour he has learnt from us.
I know I am a good mum and his behaviour has not been down to my parenting, if it was my parenting to blame then why/how does my daughter behave like a little angel?
I don't really want him to be diagnosed with anything, I wouldn't want him to be labelled but on the other hand we can't carry on the way we are.
His behaviour really gets me down, I'm going to CBT every week to help my own mental health and then I'm coming back home to abuse, screaming and shouting, being hit and kicked. It's not good
I don't really want him to be diagnosed with anything, I wouldn't want him to be labelled
Nobody does OP. But as the psychologist said to us if a child's behaviour is very at odds with 'normal' behaviour then you run the risk of the child unfairly getting the naughty 'label'. The reality is if a child has a condition then with or without the label they have the condition so the question becomes will your child benefit from the support the label affords them.
Totally agree Alley, definitely need the support.
DS is very similar to his Dad (who I split up with when I was pregnant), he is like the clone of him.
His Dad did well at school, got good GCSE results and good A levels but then failed to do anything with his life because he is scared of everything. He's scared of social situations, scared of failing at things, even scared of being a father!
He's ended up being an unemployed lay about with no dreams, aspirations and drinks too much and uses recreational drugs.
Yes some of that is a life choice but he's failed to flurish in life because of his fears and anxieties about everything and he probably uses drugs and drink to escape those anxieties.
I'd rather DS get a diagnosis and support now than him ending up struggling through life.
GGant, come over to the SN children and chat board where there are some similar posters enquiring about help for their children who are not yet diagnosed.
My hapenny's worth is definitely feed him snacks!!! Low blood sugar can really affect a child who is very sensitive to mood swings, it can always be things like a hummus sandwich or carrot sticks or a cheese sandwich not just a sugary snack.
If your son has dsypraxia or poor motor skills being told off for being "messy" is completely out of order. Both my sons have poor motor skills and presentation is not something they can control. Ds2 still can hardly write legibly and he is 13.
Transitions are really hard for children on the spectrum, if that an issue with your child, so getting ready for things or starting something new with lots of people there can be a big deal, although they might enjoy it once properly introduced. Running off is a fight or flight response, to him it is a "dangerous" situation that he cannot deal with, therefore he runs away or gets angry. Your job is to work out in advance what the triggers are for these sort of reactions (which everyone else thinks are naughty) and try and mitigate them by either
preparing him for new events and talking him through what is happening
wind down after school, familiar routine, snack, downtime, bit of exercise no demands etc
plenty of physical exercise which does not involve people makign demands of him to be well behaved, teams etc but just being able to burn off energy in a stress free environment
read books on ASD strategies even if your child doesn't necessarily fit all the traits, they will help anyway.
Out of Synch Child is also good for thinking of ways to reduce sensory issues.
It is also easy to get bogged down in your ds's dad's genes. Your child is a mixture of both your genes, and a new person. I think it is helpful to think that his life can be a great success, with your guidance and support, however his dad's turned out, although obviously you know what the issues could be if he isn't supported.
Some of it sounds normal to me and possibly you've gotten into a pattern which hasn't worked.
I would definitely give him snacks - I don't know of any school child that isn't hungry after school. Also you mentioned he wasn't happy before a party but was ok after he ate?
You can give snacks which aren't tooth destroyers.
Re not getting dressed, give him three chances and make sure he's listening. Look him in the eye. If he's not dressed then take him as he is (with uniform ready obviously).
What kind if punishments do you use? This could impact Eg if he feels like he's only loved if he's "good".
Believeitornot - yes he was OK at the party after he ate but he'd also eaten just before we went to the party so he shouldn't have been hungry, I think it was more a case of once he became relaxed in the new place, he had watched his friends playing for 10 mins, then he felt able to go in and join the party.
There was another incident on Friday where we had to go in to a room with lots of people in it, he wouldn't go in at first but once he was in there and I sat RIGHT next to him for 10 mins, then he was OK.
The trouble is that now he's bigger (he's about the size of an 8 year old), I physically can not man handle him, or at least it's difficult. I wouldn't be able to put him in the car in his PJ's even if I wanted to. He would lash out, hurt me and probably escape and run away.
I don't think he does feel that he is only loved if he is good, our home is very loving and even when he is misbehaving I try and show him that I love him. I remember reading something on the lines of 'the child who needs the most loving is often the naughtiest child' and that has stuck in my mind.
Punishments will vary depending on what he's done. Eg if he's done something bad whilst playing out (he can get very silly when he's playing with his older friends on the street) then I may ground him.
More often than not his punishment is to have privileages taken from him, eg no tablet/xbox etc...he's usually better behaved when he doesn't have those things too.
Buy the highly sensitive child book by Arun. It really fits your description
I'm just wondering if more natural consequences might work. so if he plays up then he should always have the same logical/related punishment. So no playing out whenever he's silly. How do you get him to school anyway? So if he won't put uniform on then explain you're not going to waste time making him and get ready to go. I would have thought the idea of his teacher wondering where he was would be enough to get him moving (well it works for my 6 year old and I've only had to do it once), but appreciate it might not work.
With my ds we only take away things if we can link it to bad behaviour which makes him think first. Eg if he gets grumpy or rude or won't stop for meals then no tv etc. But if it is unrelated then I wouldn't use that as punishment. Can you gradually cut down on screen time?
Is he ok at school - I mean what are his teachers like?
My ds can be a bit clingy before parties if I'm with him but I roll with it. He's fine if it's dh!
Yes the usual thing that ends up eventually working in the morning - if he is point blank refusing to go to school - is to pretend to be leaving him at home, and say I'll just take DD, then he usually ends up saying "fine I'll come then". But that's usually after 30-45 mins of difficulty before hand.
It can be little things that trigger him in the morning, maybe we've ran out of the cereal he wanted, or maybe he started getting dressed but his socks were "stupid". Little things will trigger a melt down and once he gets in to that frame of mind it's really hard to get him out of it.
Once we set off he then starts worrying about being late but will usually manage to turn the morning's events round on his little sister, either she 'made' him behave like he did or he reckons his behaviour was fine and it was her behaviour that made us late.
We have about a 30 min car journey to school, it's only a few miles but the traffic is terrible. Very stressful!
There's other little things that make me wonder if there's something not quite right with him.
He can very hyperactive, always has been. He can't control himself in situations like in shops, feels it necessary to run around and hide from me. Can't sit still in restaurants or even just at the table at home, always manages to find an excuse to get up and move around.
He repeats himself a lot, even when I've acknowledged what he's said, he'll often repeat it several times.
He can become obsessed with things. Eg when we went camping last year they sold farm eggs from their own hens, he would check with the farmer all the time to see if they had any eggs, if they had none he'd go and ask 10 minutes later. Once he's got it in his head that he's going to check, you can't talk him out of it. He must have drove them crazy!
And once he gets his silly hyperactive head on its just impossible to talk to him. I can repeat and repeat myself telling him to stop what he is doing but it's like he just does not hear me. He can be totally uncontrollable.
Most of the time he seems perfectly normal and I think he is perfectly fine but then other times he displays behaviour that just isn't quite right.
In relation to going to new places/parties my friend finds going early helps. Her son struggles walking into a noisy or busy room, but is usually ok if the noise builds up around him. Even better if he's given a job to do such as help put out the cups or count the chairs etc.
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