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Aspergers and making choices

(17 Posts)
firelighter Tue 09-Nov-10 10:57:52

Help. I have an almost six year old with Aspergers. Recently making choices has become a real problem for him. E.g. this morning he couldn't decide which juice to have and, despite me trying to help him e.g. how about orange it resulted in a complete meltdown. This is just one example but it happens a lot and comes out of the blue (even which road should we turn down) so I often find myself floundering as I just can't see it coming. Does anyone have any strategies that I can use so that I can feel more in control when this happens? Thanks in advance.

Ineed2 Tue 09-Nov-10 11:44:24

No strategies I am afraid, but this happens all the time with Dd3. It results in much flapping and jumping up and down in our house.
The sweet shop is a nightmare we can only go when it's empty.

Will watch with interest to see what others saygrin.

misdee Tue 09-Nov-10 11:45:55

i find that dd2 will let soeone else make the choice for her, rather than doing it herself.

Al1son Tue 09-Nov-10 12:02:03

DD2 has this problem and it can cause awful upsets. I now give her a few minutes then I warn her that I will be counting in a minute. After a minute I say that I will count to three and if she hasn't decided I will do it for her. I then count to three and make the decision. I try to make the choice I think she would have preferred and I never ever change it if she doesn't like my choice because that would make the whole thing pointless.

The other strategy I use is to reduce her choices to two. So I don't ask what she wants to do. I say would you like to do X or Y. That makes it much more manageable for her.

firelighter Tue 09-Nov-10 12:19:56

Thanks everyone. Al1son your strategy looks good. I think my fatal mistake is to give in when he keeps changing his mind and then it just spirals in to complete meltdown and I find myself losing my patience followed by guilt for getting so frustrated with him. If anyone can give me an insight as to why choices are so difficult for him I'd be really grateful. Thanks again.

Al1son Tue 09-Nov-10 12:45:31

For my DD I think it's linked to control. If she makes a choice she's said goodbye to the other option and knows she can't get it back. That also links into her not liking things changing. She doesn't like things changing because we'll never be able to go back to how they were before. TBH she is a bit of a control freak and doesn't like the idea of losing the option she didn't choose.

sugarcandymonster Tue 09-Nov-10 13:02:52

DS also has difficulties with choices, but he has improved as he's got older. I also use the strategy of limiting choices, to two or three, or by putting a financial limit (if buying things). If we're buying something at a counter, we don't start queuing until he's made his choice, because he gets flustered if the sales assistant asks him what he wants and he hasn't finished making his mind up.

"If she makes a choice she's said goodbye to the other option"

I've just realised that applies to DS too. I often tell him that he's making the choice of doing X this time, and next time he can do Y which does make it easier for him.

IndigoBell Tue 09-Nov-10 13:19:44

I definitely try to limit choices to 'this or that'

But generally try to reduce choices to nothing. He prefers to be told what to do anyway.... Particularly on school days. On holidays and weekends there are more likely to be choices to made - and meltdowns to had.

There is no way I'd give him a choice in the morning before school

I figure if he really wanted something different he'd say so.

Ineed2 Tue 09-Nov-10 13:44:56

Dd3 had a real problem on he first day back after half term because the winter uniform consists of trousers or a skirt and I had mistakenly put long and short sleeed shirts in her wardrobe. OMG 2 choices to be made before 8 oclock in the morning = meltdown.

telluthetruth Tue 09-Nov-10 13:51:25

completely agree that limiting choices is the way forward. if your child can cope with some guidance on the consequence of the choice it might also help (ie if you choose orange juice now @breakfast it will be milk after school...as we have to limit orange juice)

a lot praise for making a choice (good choice!) and reassurance that the unchosen option will be available on another occasion has helped us lots....

Tiggles Tue 09-Nov-10 14:06:23

DS really struggles with choices, I think that his biggest meltdowns have come when he has finally made a decision and then decided he made the wrong choice.
The best way I have found with him, especially if time is short, is that I present the choices (pref max 2) and then let him umm and ahh for 30secs. Then I say if you can't decide, then I will decide for you. Choose an option, invariably he will decide he wanted the other choice, so I tend to opt for the one I think he would least want, iyswim.

firelighter Tue 09-Nov-10 14:09:23

Thanks again everyone. Really helpful. Will try to reduce oportunity for choice and telluthetruth the idea of the unchosen option being available another time feels like it might work (fingers crossed). I think he 'lists' everything in his head, if that makes sense, and so choices just don't fit into the way he processes the world. Onwards and sideways upwards.

amberlight Tue 09-Nov-10 14:18:22

If someone asks me what I want out of a menu, (as someone on the autism spectrum), or asks me to make a choice, I panic.
For me it's to do with the sensory problems I have. If I choose the wrong drink/food/clothes etc, can I remember what it's going to feel like, taste like etc? I have to prepare myself for whatever sensory pain is about to happen.

If it's a social choice, the potential pain is from realising a person is going to be behaving differently and in a scary way if I get it wrong, e.g. presents, cards etc. So I try to choose things that are 100% safe. Sometimes choosing between lots of scary things becomes impossible.

And sometimes it's because all the choices are actually the same and there is no rule for which one to choose - like where do you sit on an empty bus or in an almost empty cinema? I have to 'know' the rule for which is the right seat, otherwise panic sets in. I default to "where I sat last time" if I know the building, but somewhere new is really scary.

Not sure if that helps or not, but it's possible reasons for some of us.

SkippyjonJones Tue 09-Nov-10 14:33:42

I agree limiting the choices helps. Amberlight you have just given me some great insights into dd. I always find it very difficult when she gets on a bus ahead of me. I say sit down and she freezes and just cannot choose. I try to go on ahead now or else she goes into meltdown over where to sit.

firelighter Tue 09-Nov-10 14:33:47

Thank you Amberlight. I am learning, slowly, how he processes the world around him. And it often seems like he feels there's no ground underneath him, if you no what I mean, and he needs his systems/lists to keep him safe. He is obsessed with Premier League football at the moment. The other day I asked if he'd like to watch a match from another league (thought he'd like it). WRONG. Big meltdown because to him this wasn't just another match, but another match which was a whole different league etc and which he therefore didn't know about (e.g. players, teams, who was first, second, third). He was torn between wanting to watch it but afraid to because he couldn't fit it into any system (for want of a better word)he already had in place.

amberlight Tue 09-Nov-10 14:45:14

firelighter, that's exactly it - everything, all day, feels unsafe...relationships, choices, what's going to happen. It's that continual panic that wears us down. The more we can guess what will happen next, the more relief there is.

SkippyjonJones Tue 09-Nov-10 14:49:51

"And it often seems like he feels there's no ground underneath him" brilliant description I see that in dd all the time.

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