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How can I help Asps. DS with obsessional worries?(18 Posts)
DS2, 11, with high functioning Asperger's/traits, worries obsessively about specific things. It gets worse during school hols. as he doesn't respond well to unstructured time. In the past, it's been worries about burglars, terrorist attacks, high winds. Recently, it's been about his appearance - feels too fat, obsesses about his hairstyle, worries about his spots and now it's his teeth!
This isn't the 'normal' kind of preteen angst about 'looking good'. It's just a switch in content of lifelong, obsessive worrying/ thoughts in his mind that he fixates on.
I've tried the following with him: talking back to the worries and telling them they're not true - ie countering with other evidence; bringing an even more emotive but positive image to his mind - ie mum loving him and protecting him; 'putting his worries in a mental box and locking the box; distracting himself with other thoughts every time his mind begins to worry; using his mind to focus on one of his obsessive interests or current schemes.
This last method seems to work best. However, if there's nothing specific that captures his interest, his mind goes into free-floating angst and alights on a worry.
Does anyone have any other techniques or ideas of how to help children like him fend off obsessive worries?
I'm also aware that as he gets older, some of his schemes/ideas/interests are out of synch. with more age appropriate aspirations (eg he's currently 'inventing' things that he'll 'patent' and then sell in a business he plans to set up). So I'm slightly concerned that helping him to focus on ideas and schemes that distract from his worries will end in disillusion and depression as he becomes an adult and realises he isn't going to become a rich businessman.
Meanwhile, his NT twin is getting invitations to parties and play dates these holidays and has recently become good friends with some of his twin's old friends, who now aren't inclined towards DS2 at all. DS2 seems to have no friends at all now, since starting his senior school and can't even think of anyone to have round when his twin is out with friends, nor what he'd do with a 'friend' if they came round.
So the current context for his worries is unstructured time away from school plus the realisation that he has no friends and his twin has loads, including old friends of DS2.
How can I help him?
Ds2 has an outreach therapist via a camhs-like organization that he sees. He has aspergers traits, ADHD, anxieties and phobias on his rap sheet... (Also 11)
He's way worse with unstructured time. I mostly just do the keeping busy and distraction thing... But he does find it helpful to have a sounding board outside of the family.
Am marking place for some other ideas!!
Thanks for the book recommendations.
Re. interests outside school, I can't think of anywhere that would provide for this.
He's not into computing/maths/astronomy/science/technology - which is really why he's now lost all his 'geeky' friends. He's into literature, writing, politics, history, setting up a business. The 'arts' interests seem to attract far fewer non-NT children where we are and attract more girls too. He dropped out of History club at school cos it was all girls.
A creative writing class - if there were one available for Asps./geeky children, would probably be difficult for him as he writes his own books in a specific way and hates criticism or being told what to do and how to do it.
Will keep thinking but will also check out those books in the meantime. Would they be age appropriate for an almost 12 yr old or too 'juvenile'? (He reads stuff like Hermann Hesse, Richard Dawkins and Jane Austen for fun these days!)
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
We are waiting for camhs for similar. No advice, just sympathy, its really hard to know how to get it right. What about a drama group or something physical like football or rugby to allow him time when he can't think?
Why isn't he going to be a rich businessperson? Serious question. At his age (and at the not-mild end of autism) I was obsessing and worrying and fretting and panicking...and also had passionate ideas and interests on maps. Drove everyone quite mad with it. Maps 24 hrs a day if I had a chance. "Oh she'll never be any good at anything", said the school. "Better train to do menial work". I run a Surveying company now. That skill is what gives us the edge in a competitive market. Believe in his dreams. Encourage him in them. It's not a hopeless thing at all.
Thanks for the further ideas/support. It's CBT for OCD that I've been trying with him. I was just wondering if there's anything else people have used with success or do I just persist with what I'm already doing?
Re. physical activities, he enjoyed rugby a bit at school before the season ended but was nowhere near the standard of the elite/cool sporty crowd who do this out of school as well and he's actually rather dyspraxic. So many sports are beyond him. Rugby was possible as it allowed him to use his sturdy body strength to 'win' kudos but it was more weight than skill that helped. He HATES football and tried to start an anti-football group at his junior school, which didn't make him v popular!
He used to do drama, as did his twin but at the seniors, there are fewer opportunities as there are some really talented children there who get all the parts. He's also increasingly self-conscious about his slight speech issues/sound of his voice. He joined a debating society at school because he does like to voice his strong opinions! - but sadly it closed down through lack of interest.
I'm going to order the book/s recommended and see what he makes of them. It's really hard because I don't want him to make a big deal of his problems and have a spotlight on them, yet need to help him address them. His twin is constantly pulled between protecting DS2 and standing up for him and teasing him/ getting in with the cooler crowd by sneering at his twin.
Stagecoach or similar?
Ds1 is into dance, but also dropped it because of the number of girls.
Amberlight - thank you for this optimism. Yes, he might well be able to become whatever he wants to be. He's very focused and has a lot of ideas. I suspect I'm too pessimistic myself and just worry that his aspirations are unattainable in the 'real world' outside his currently 'little' world of school and home and I worry that his difficulties with social/communication skills will compromise his aspirations.
Alwayslateforwork - Stagecoach might have worked earlier on in his life but now he's increasingly self-conscious and even hates to self-record his own voice and appearance on a camcorder at home, as he believes he looks and sounds odd.
Scouts then. I swear by it for oddballs. In the right unit, they can gather confidence and really get to grips with themselves, as well as mixing with a ton of other slightly offbeat kids. I know a 14yo aspie who has just been awarded his queen's scout. He came and volunteered at my cub pack. I swear it was almost a whole year before he opened his mouth, but eventually worked up the confidence to stand in the middle of the room and run games for the younger boys.
Tough for a twin with an nt brother.
<and I use the term odd ball in the sort of manner as 'out of synch' child. I consider myself fairly odd ball, as well as ds1!>
What about the local rugby club if he enjoyed it? Our experience of the camarederie has been a lot better than at football and ds gets a lot out of just charging around. (Also had coordination issues before hand)
Could the SENCo steer
press-gang some extra boys into history club?
DS1's starting to do this, but he's a little younger (and definitely not self aware enough for the Huebner books, which I do have on standby.)
The approach we take does depend on the fixation. He got into a right pickle about all the horsemeat stuff, but a simple factfinding mission helped to put his mind to rest to a sufficient extent for him not to keep coming back to it.
The rest of the time, we have to work with distraction, I'm afraid. Or even a ban on a topic if it's one he works himself up into a frenzy about
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