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How to handle DS running off (6 yo AS)(25 Posts)
My 6 yo DS has recently been diagnosed with Asperger's / HFA (I also suspect he has some PDA traits, although the paediatrician would not acknowledge it). He is very able at school but just wants to do his own thing. He struggles with transitions, and at these times, if something triggers him he will get very 'silly' and run around compulsively. Sometimes he crawls on the floor making noises, and he absolutely will not listen.
I am dreading picking him up from school at the moment, as he often runs away as soon as he sees me. I've had to chase him through the school a couple of times recently when he refused to come. Short of physically restraining him, I don't know how to handle it. It is embarrassing and demoralising to not know how to handle it in front of the teachers, and I am often late for picking up his little sister from preschool.
I'm going to talk to the school about whether we can work together to make hometimes easier. He has an IEP but it's all quite early days. I just wondered if anyone had any advice for handling this?
Thanks Hothead. An earlier pick may be helpful. On the rare occasion where he's near the front of the queue, he comes out much happier. The problem is where he tends to get left till last and then gets in quite a state.
It's interesting to hear your DS1 has a similar profile. When I read about Asperger's it doesn't seem to describe my son, as he isn't rigid about routines, and he has made friends. But he really struggles with transitions and being asked to do things! Plus loud noises and some group situations.
I don't know if he has got any 1-2-1 yet... When I spoke to the head (SENCO) last week about his diagnosis, she said she was arranging for him to see an educational psychologist, so they could try and get resources in place.
His lovely class teacher seems to handle DS pretty well (without constantly holding me back to tell me about his behaviour, unlike previous teachers!). However when I went to pick him up yesterday there was a teacher I didn't know, and she held DS back till one of the last and brought me in to complain about his behaviour... while he ran round in circles round the classroom. Just feel so worn down and annoyed!
Many children with As/Hfa have difficulty waiting [mine included].
I think you should go in and ask for him to be either bought out before the other children or allowed to be at the front of the line.
It wont help if he can see you, Dd3 used to be terrible for this and as soon as the door was open she would run to me and often fall over. If she had had a bad day she would run out of the playground and I would be running after her.
She has got better as she has got older and now I wait for her by the gate. We have come along way
To help with the problem of different teachers Dd3 has a passport, this is a booklet which explains to staff who dont know her what her areas of difficulties are and what her strengths are. It also names specific adults who she can go to to get help and who can offer support to teachers. It is great and has helped her a lot.
If your son had a passport it could tell people not to try to talk to you at the end of the day as he has been cooped up in the classroom all day and needs to go home. You could offer your email address for them to contact you or even better a home link book.
I forgot to say, as far as the running off goes. I used to carry reigns in my pocket when Dd3 was in a running off phase because she would run across roads.
Dd3 wore reigns until she was 4 anyway because she was so bad, she would not hold my hand and would wriggle out of my grip
If I showed her the reigns and said "If you run off you will have the reigns on", she usually complied.
We compromised by letting her run in safe areas eg, the gully or on pavements of quieter roads and we used to play a game where I used to shout "Stop" and she would have to freeze. It took along time to get past this and I remember being on edge all the time.
Dd3 is 10 now and she is 99% trustworthy with regard to running off, she will still refuse to hold my hand and she likes to walk by herself either behind or in front of me but she has pretty much stopped running off.
Stick at it, you will get there
Some great ideas there Ineedpigsinblankets - I will discuss all this with the school and try to get them on board. The passport sounds like a wonderful idea! Also being able to discuss over email. I just can't discuss things with DS running round in circles!
You're right that it doesn't help if he can see me (he runs off when he catches sight of me).
Funnily enough, the new teacher yesterday has prompted a bit of a rage in me and I am fed up of feeling humiliated! He has AS, fgs. Will definitely push for the passport idea.
I'm going to the school now and will try and arrange a chat with his teacher.
Yes DS used to run off as a toddler as well - I also had a DD as a baby so never seemed to have my hands free to deal with him. It was awful. He once ran off in a supermarket and just wouldn't come back. When he was 3/4 I used to let him go on ahead on his scooter, as long as he stopped at the roads (I would threaten to take the scooter away if not, and that usually worked!). He had got so much better, but it's started again now... I might try the 'Stop' game you mentioned.
Thanks for the links Hothead - I have looked into PDA and in some ways it makes more sense than AS, with his demand avoidance, and a lot of the techniques really work for him. We need to makes things into a game, and really vary things as he gets bored easily. Although he doesn't fit all the profile for PDA either. He doesn't particularly seek to dominate others. He's quite gentle and thoughtful but with a lot of physical compulsive energy when he is upset. Anyway, the paediatrician seemed to think PDA was just an American thing (!) and wouldn't really discuss it... but at least now we have a diagnosis so he can get some support.
Seen this? For me, this is why I'd run away, crawl round on the floor and generally do all I can to block out the nightmare of being in that space for hour after hour.
My lad is also 6 and has just been assessed as 'not ASD but delayed social development which currently looks very like ASD'. He sounds very like your boy though. We have the running problem at drop off not pick up.
Could you establish a little routine with the school so that there gets to be a familiar sequence of actions around the transition - maybe he goes to the front, teacher or TA hands him over to you? DS badly needs structure so if there is none we have to create some, if that makes sense. Or pick him up 5 mins early? That chaos around home time is so triggering for some kids, isn't it.
surrealist, Dd3 had to have a TA standing by the door when she was younger, so I could post her in through the door and the TA would stop her coming back out.
At her new school all the doors are manned by TA's which is great for us. We arrive at the last minute and she goes in, the cloakroom is quiet by the time she gets in there. That was a biggy for her, all that fuss in the cloakroom was just too much.
Up until Y4 ds was always sent first to the cloakroom and came out first so he didn't have to deal with the throngs in the cloakroom and the chaos of parents waiting. All the classrooms have their own external door so this was quite straightforward at ds's school. He's now developed his own routine and is 'on rails' getting his stuff and packing his bag, oblivious to everyone else.
I also carried a wrist strap rein thing with me for the first few years at school as an incentive to not run off
Something that made a significant difference in infants was what the children were doing in the last 10 minutes before home time, if ds had been doing 'choosing', ie opting to draw or play with Lego for example, he would cope much better with coming out of school than if they'd gone straight from a guided activity or assembly, that little bit of time to mentally shift from school to home was very important.
I've also had to ask teachers not to tell me stuff at home time, ds will either run off or become extremely angry, and then it ruins the evening. In my view if it is something urgent they should have phoned me, anything else can wait, however important.
Home school book = godsend for DS. . It doesn't have to be elaborate or be written in every day, but i know that if there's been an issue it will be in his book so neither I nor his teacher have to try and make conversation across a mass of milling children while DS dances the fandango around us
Amberlight - that is an amazing video! It really helps to explain things.
Thanks for all the other replies and suggestions - so helpful. I have arranged to see DS's teacher on Thursday so I will discuss all these ideas with her and see what will work. I definitely need to sort out a better form of communication with school.
Sometimes he comes out of school absolutely fine, but sometimes he is in quite a state, and I do wonder what they've been doing just before hometime. He struggles with guided activities but copes fine with free play. He also hates assembly, but has been excused at the moment as he gets so anxious about the noise / singing.
DS is really big for his age and he is so strong... he is getting increasingly difficult to handle in these situations, so I'm really hoping he gets through this running off 'phase' soon. Sometimes, if I tell him I'm leaving and walk away (expecting him to follow), that will work. However, he might get distracted by a big stick or something and start waving it about... so I have to go back and take it off him. Or, he takes a long time to process that I mean it and to notice that I've actually gone, then he goes from seemingly oblivious to getting very upset.
When he was younger and I was having difficulty get him to leave somewhere, I kept a fruit bar in my bag to bribe/distract him with. I think I might start doing it again... It might be a good backup for an emergency, when I really do need him to come now.
Anyway, trying to avoid the triggers is the best way to go. I feel more positive about having lots of ideas to discuss with his teacher now.
Get the teacher to look at that video. Best couple of mins of explanation they're going to come across.
I used to end up having to physically carry ds1in a firemans lift from playground to car several times a week. Well into year 1. the teachers
probably thought still think I'm nuts and/or abusive.
I've shared the video with a few friends already and will try to share with school too.
Mariammama, that's what gets me - I feel so uncomfortable having to physically 'manhandle' DS, especially in front of the teachers / other parents. But sometimes he really will not come. I can't physically lift him but have to kind of hold him until he calms down a bit, then assertively 'guide' him in the direction I want him to go... Luckily DD is quite an easy going child and will walk beside us, but she's only 3 so sometimes I just don't have enough hands!
This morning DS absolutely would not get his shoes on ready for school and kept running off or thwarting my attempts to help him. Shoes and teeth brushing and both real trigger points! I need to build up a better repertoire of games and distraction techniques...but I just wasn't in the mood this morning! I think this term leading up to Christmas is really tiring and DS is really feeling it...I know I am!
use visual aids visual schedule which will be follwoed at transitions amke one for going to school one for leaving school.
is all about communciation and him knowing what is going to happen.
agree a strategy with school that will work.
let him have hgis visual schedule
class finisshes (do they have a routine like saying goodbye teacher ?)
put on coat
wait by door
wait for mum
dealing with transitions is made easier by clear visual schedule and information on what is going to happen next.
visual is better - imagine being dragged off to car and you dont know why or where you going? even if has been said verbally, and even if is same as every day - for some kids with ASD the visual schedule is much clearer.
currer rather than games and distraction look at using schedules and communication -the more he know where and what he is doing the more compliant he will be.
ds 16 has no verbal speech but all these issues so much easier with clear visual written schedules of what is happening at each stage and where we going what will happen next.
can ds read?
you could have white board or laminate printed schedules for daily routines and also they should have them at school.
some will be same every day - if you laminate with space to add/change with whiteboard pen so much better.
if not reading yet then use symbols with word underneath
PECS or dotolearn
link www.dotolearn.com/picturecards/VisualSchedules/index.htm you need to crack this becuse when he is big adolescent it will be so much harder - my mantra(s) is(are)
all behaviour is communication
and communication is key and
use visual schedules throughout the day !
and for christmas as well use lots of visual schedules to explain what is happening and when -this willr eally help avoid meltdowns
Yup, I've been the one holding DS in a modified bear hug in the playground while hoping Dd stays with me
Don't think there's much you can do, sometimes it's the safest and/or only
Does he have sensory issues? DS does and sometimes I can help keep
him with me if I eg swing him away and back from me as we walk. Sort of
going with that need to move and crash into things (ie me).
Do you go by car or walk to
school? If car, does he absolutely have to have shoes on or could he go to car in wellies/crocs whatever and you take them with you in a bag?
I wouldn't even go there with tooth brushing before school if it's a problem (and I work in public health and kids teeth have not yet fallen
Like your username by the way
Surreal, thanks . We walk to school so he does need his shoes on. We don't do teeth brushing before school - just at bedtime is all we can cope with!
I think DS has sensory issues as he does have a need to move and crash into things (is that part of it?). He gets affected by loud noises (not always, i.e. he can cope with noise at softplay where he can run around, but he will complain assembly is too noisy).
cestlavielife - I have tried doing a visual timetable for the morning schedule using velcro stickies but he just gets silly and starts rearranging the events. He does not do well with schedules (which is why I was worried he wouldn't be diagnosed with AS). They do use visual prompts at school though and I could try and work at something similar (a laminated/printed one that he can't mess with is a good idea!).
I don't know if it is all down to communication. With the shoes example... he does knows what needs to happen. I give him warning and tell him what will happen next. Same at hometime. He just doesn't want to do it. The only way I can get him to comply is if I ask indirectly or make it into a game. That's why I'm thinking he has PDA traits... I will give the visual stuff another go though - it might be a way of reducing his sense of the demands on him. Sometimes a timer can help as it's the timer telling him to change activities, rather than me.
He sounds just like mine!
My dp does the after-school pickups, which can be a nightmare and involve a 20 min walk home. He has introduced a game with ds and dd he calls the 'Postbox Challenge', where he has a bag of sweets with him, they are allowed to run ahead a bit but have to stop at the next lamppost, if they stop they get a sweet and then on to the next one. Then at the postbox near the house, if they have managed it well until then, they get the rest of the sweets.
I think it helps ds because it gives him back enough control to cope with the walk home, and he isn't being told what to do. Makes my blood run cold a bit as it involves them running ahead, but tbh hanging on to him is a guaranteed meltdown trigger if he's had a bad day and that's not too safe either.
The Postbox Challenge sounds good .
Anyway, school pick-up today was great! I spoke to the head this afternoon and she agreed it made sense to let DS out first. When I got to the school, he was posted out the door to me and was happy and walked beside me straight away. Phew.
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