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Re: Managing violence in Asps. DS

(31 Posts)
Desperandum Tue 28-May-13 11:23:58

I have name changed because I am so desperate and also embarrassed about what's happening in the home with DS, aged 12. He has HF Asperger's, goes to mainstream school and outside the home is very well behaved.

At home, over the last 2 years, as he's starting puberty, he's expressing his anger with physical violence. This may involve pushing me violently, throwing small items at me, thumping me on the arm or chest. It's not that bad but I'm afraid it may get worse.

What should the consequences be when he does this? I find that I get very angry and upset myself and have at times ended up shoving him back, which I'm very ashamed of as this will only teach him to do this more to me. However, I am now resolutely trying not to retaliate but have no idea what to do instead.

For example, if I tell him that he must leave the room for being rude (he swears horribly at me) and have time out, he refuses. If I try to switch off his PC, he pushes me away, switches it back on, swears etc. How can I make him leave the room if I don't physically force him, which of course I shouldn't and in any case, he's now very strong?

I have also at times resorted to locking him in his bedroom and also realise that this is a terrible response and not at all helpful. I've felt at the end of my tether and if I try to lock myself in a room to calm down, then he just goes back to whatever he was doing that I've told him he can't do as a result of his rudeness or violence.

Like some children with Asperger's (though not all), if he does something wrong, he will never ever ever admit fault but turns it around into it being the victim's fault. I have tried, after rows, to sit down calmly with him and explain step by step what the sequence of events has been - ie, "When you called me a f***ing bitch c***, I felt angry and upset and told you to go to your room, as a consequence of you doing something unacceptable. You refused to go, so I switched off your PC. You pushed me away, so I defended myself. You called me several other rude words and I got angry and felt hurt. I now need you to apologise and to understand what you've done wrong."

This then turns into him saying what I have done wrong - ie., made him angry so he had to swear at me, switched off his PC, so he had to push me/throw something at me. So he doesn't learn anything and his behaviour doesn't change and often I feel so terribly guilty about mismanaging the situation, that I end up telling him I love him and that I'm sorry for my part/losing my temper etc etc.

Can anyone suggest what I can do to help change this situation? What other specific consequences can I use to make him see that being rude and violent is wrong?

SingySongy Tue 28-May-13 11:35:04

That sounds terribly hard, you must feel very stressed. Have you tried approaching it from the other direction. When he's in a good mood, maybe sit down together and work out a contract for good behaviour, ie what is expected of him. Being gentle (not throwing/hurting), speaking kindly (no swearing etc), in as explicit a way as you can for him. Work out together what the consequences will be... ie, if he can be asked to go to his room, you will turn the computer off etc - whatever you think is most appropriate. Make it as logical as you can. Possibly also ask him if there's anything he'd like you to change, and add that to the contract as well, so that he feels more in control.

PolterGoose Tue 28-May-13 22:24:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Tue 28-May-13 22:25:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ilikemysleep Tue 28-May-13 22:45:24

I agree, don't make up consequences on the hoof, have a previously agreed set of consequences for unacceptable behaviours, and a positive behaviour agreed set of rules. Best to make the rules for the whole family, eg 'speak respectfully to each other, do not swear at each other'. In my DS' case he knows that consequences involve removing his ipod and /or DS. We only need to get stern nowadays and tell him 'you have two minutes left to do X, or there will be consequences' and he will comply 95% of the time. (We don't say 'or we will confiscate your ipod because hearing those words triggers a meltdown! He knows what 'there will be consequences' means!) One other tip that works for us, is that my DS is like yours, invariably right and it is always everyone else's fault. He cannot back down in front of people, he can't handle the pressure. So he is always given a time limit and a reminder of the consequence and then left to comply on his own for a couple of minutes (eg, to get dressed, get in the shower etc. If we stand over him he will almost always meltdown). He usually gets two chances.

I also agree with the book recommendations above and would add in 'how to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk' which I found incredibly helpful in making kids feel 'heard', which is very important to my aspie (he's 11.5, BTW)

Best of luck!

zzzzz Tue 28-May-13 23:41:51

I think this is very hard. My gut feeling is that you are approaching things from the wrong end. Rewards and punishments really confuse things sometimes. What you need to do is think about what is causeing the anger/frustration in the first place.

What triggers the "bad" behaviour? What makes this behaviour desirable for both of you? (Ie why does it keep happening?)

Finding sanctions after the event or creating artificial rewards is very much a sticking plaster approach.

Be aware that you may find you are not blameless. It's rather shocking to have to change at our advanced age (and galling and difficult) but sometimes necessary.

PolterGoose Wed 29-May-13 00:02:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ineedmorepatience Thu 30-May-13 10:49:57

What a refreshing view that is polter I stopped using consequences to deal with Dd3's behaviour sometime ago. Since I stopped her behaviour has dramatically improved but I hadnt realised why confused

I use the yellow and red cards to let her know that she is behaving inappropriately but have only ever gone to red once. She did have a consequence then but it was only to move away from the situation and go elsewhere to calm down.

Thanks for confirming that this can be an effective way of teaching behaviour modification as it certainly seems to be working for us.

OP I would recommend visuals to help your Ds realise that his behaviour is unacceptable and maybe also to begin to understand his anger. Have you looked at the 5 point scale (I think that is what it is called)

Also consider whether his needs are really being met at school. Many children with Asd can "pass for normal" at school but the consequence of this is that they bring all their frustrations home with them sad

Hope you can find a way to calm him, be kind to yourself and good luck smile

thornrose Thu 30-May-13 12:28:28

OP - I was directed to this thread after starting a similar one. There is some really great advice on here.
I also don't use punishment and consequences and it's great to hear that others agree.
I just want to say that if it helps OP you are not alone. I sometimes feel I am the only person going through this, clearly not!

PolterGoose Thu 30-May-13 12:34:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Thu 30-May-13 12:41:27

Not alone, but mine is mostly resolved. But I remember.

I am so warmed by us all finding similar rationale and experience. This was part of my reading last year

I find it funny that much if what we discuss and discover was observed and written about by M Montessori over a hundred years ago. Interestingly it was children with sn she was educating and the same questions and quandaries are still with us. The solutions (what can be solved obviously) seem to hold too.

Ineedmorepatience Thu 30-May-13 14:47:02

zzzzz I actually think it is quite sad that montessori was making these suggestions 100 yrs ago and yet children with SN's are still being excluded from school and society because they cant function within the normal reward/punishment system.

I am really lucky so far with Dd3 she is only very occasionally aggressive towards me or her sister, she is very verbal though and I am holding my breath and waiting for puberty to kick in.

Op, you are never alone on here smile

thornrose Thu 30-May-13 15:03:17

I remember having counselling some years ago and I kept saying that I felt dd was "winning" or "getting away with it" when she repeatedly behaved badly. All those things I'd heard my mother say hmm

The counsellor gently encouraged me to forget all that and listen to my instincts where rewards and punishments were concerned. She also got dd "winning" out of my mind, she pointed out that I was not in any kind of competition with my dd.

PolterGoose Thu 30-May-13 15:05:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Thu 30-May-13 15:07:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thornrose Thu 30-May-13 15:12:59

I have a lot of reading to catch up on.

zzzzz Thu 30-May-13 15:19:01

It's a choice. Some people are deeply entrenched in the reward/punishment model of life. I have sympathy with it. It makes sense in the way survival of the fittest evolution does. We do things that reward us, we are disuaded from doing things that result in punishments.

It is shocking to suggest that this isn't the way it has to be and that there is a better more effective way to live.

I don't find it depressing that Montessori thought about all this (and incidentally educated her charges with sn to pass, with better averages, the state school certs.) 100 years ago. It strengthens my resolve, hat it can be one again......perhaps better grin.

chocolatecrispies Thu 30-May-13 15:44:17

OP is it possible your son has PDA? I think mine does and a very useful tip I read was to think of meltdowns as panic attacks and to respond accordingly - so it is all about de-escalating or avoiding triggers rather than consequences. If you are having a panic attack then punishments are definitely not going to help.

Kleinzeit Thu 30-May-13 18:36:30

It’s funny… I could use “consequences” for quite a few things with my DS. But the two things they never helped with at all, were rudeness and aggression.

When DS was starting to get angry or agitated, rewards didn’t help, and threats or punishments only made things worse. Anxiety and panic are big factors which cause aggression in kids with ASC (well, those plus sensory reactions) and consequences increased my DS’s anxiety and his aggression. Oh and my DS has never accepted he’s responsible for anything! Well, nearly never – he has voluntarily apologised twice and I treasure both smile

I’d like to second the Ross Greene suggestion. ?Explosive Child? hit the spot with my DS – even though the version of the book I had didn’t mention ASCs! His non-consequence approach made things calmer, much less violent and much more manageable.

And are you getting any kind of support for yourself? I once went on an NAS training day for parents of kids with ASCs, and the leader asked how many had been hit by our kids, about one third of the hands went up sad You aren’t alone in this flowers It’s very hard.

zzzzz Thu 30-May-13 19:04:23

polt. Maria Montessori was undoubtably an amazing woman. She was the first female Italian Dr and had to dissect her cadaver at dead of night because it was against the rules for her to be doing it grin . Some things are very dated, much is now ms (though dreadfully blunted by idiocy), you will recognise all sorts of ideas. Be warned the vocabulary is "of it's time" so words like idiot, and defective, and backward or retarded are used in a pre-taunting way. The ideas are simple and good. They are based on empowering children and supporting their growth. Respect of children and for their development is key. The ideas have made mean infinitely better parent.

Desperandum Sat 01-Jun-13 06:30:55

Thanks to everyone. You've given me lots to think about here. I've now discussed the idea of a family contract with DS and my other DS to look at ways we can all get on better together and agree what's acceptable in the home.

What really struck me was that my NT DS spontaneously said "This must be v hard for you, mum, when you're doing everything to be nice to us and all we're doing in return is be nasty to you". This is exactly the kind of insight that I yearn for from DS with Asps to have but he can't understand things at this level. When they both gang up on me, which happens frequently, I feel literally 'abused', as they behave in ways I've never and would never let anyone behave towards me in my life and seeing it coming from my own children feels humiliating and devastating.

DS with Asps is an anxious child and sometimes the rudeness and violence is within the context of stress. He also gets very angry if I'm stressed or upset - eg he gets furious if he sees me crying. He completely won't let me make any reference to my late parents as even if I'm not upset, he doesn't 'allow' me to talk about anything that MIGHT make me upset.

The reason I got into the 'consequences' mindset is that whilst NT DS usually 'comes through' his anger and rudeness to apologising, understanding that he's done wrong and has hurt me or his sibling and shows remorse, DS with Asps never gets to that. As far as he's concerned, he's right and everyone else is wrong. So I was looking for a very simple logical way of handling things, without expecting him to understand why he needs to stop certain behaviours.

Another thing that's going on for me is I really, really miss my 'little boy' - the one who'd endlessly talk for hours about trains or another of his interests and whilst this could get very frustrating, at least it was him communicating with me and perceiving me as someone 'useful' to fulfil his needs.

Now he's going through puberty, he's detaching from me and almost every interaction, on a 'good day' is him saying something mocking and derisory to me, eg "You're so fat!", "Women aren't as clever as men - yeah - Manpower!" (high fiving with his brother)," and other much much more rude and four-letter word phrases about me/women.

I find this very sad, extremely wearing (it's repetitive in the same way as talking about trains used to be repetitive but has a much much greater negative, emotional charge) and makes me very angry. I feel ganged up on and put down by both DCs and no, I don't have any support for me at all. Often at the end of the day, especially at w/es, I'll have spent the entire day doing things solely for the DCs and in return, getting only verbal abuse back from them.

Crisis points, when DS becomes violent, happen when I've tried to intervene in an argument between the DCs and those arguments/fights happen ALL the time these days. Crisis points also happen when I've reached the end of my tether and can't take anymore verbal rudeness, put downs and feeling 'exploited' by both DCs.

I try walking away and locking myself in a room but usually, DS with Asps will follow me and pound on the door, shout at me to come out, continue the argument/rudeness. So I can't get away.

Lots to keep thinking about. I'm still stuck on exactly what I should do if DS with Asps refuses to leave the room, refuses to stop his misbehaviour/rudeness and makes to 'go for me' if I do anything to try to make him take time out? If I just walk away, he comes after me and this isn't changing his behaviour and his brother and he can then get into much worse physical fighting. If I mention/ threaten or try to enforce any consequence, the situation escalates. If I do nothing, his brother feels it's unfair, which then antagonises the situation even more and also Ds with Asps then thinks he can repeat the same sort of behaviour/rudeness without anything bad happening.

ilikemysleep Sat 01-Jun-13 10:33:54

desperandum your last para is what the Ross Greene book will tackle - you sit down when DS is calm and make a plan as to what to do, together. Then next time the situation arises you see if the new plan works. If not, you sit down and plan again....

Your paragraph about DS detaching really resonated for me. My DS is the same. Luckily we don't have much challenging behaviour in the way you describe, but unfortunately that is because DS likes to spend all his time alone in his room emerging only for meals. He comes on family days out only because we insist. He used to fight with his brother, now he doesn't interact with him at all except at mealtimes. I also miss the little boy who told me about trains, and the medium sized boy who told me about gogos...

re consequences - my DS once called me a 'fucking moron'. There were no consequences because he was so far gone in a meltdown (he thought it was Sunday, and it was actually Monday so he had to get up for school) that I doubt he knew what he was saying or remembered it afterwards. I wouldn't apply a consequence to a meltdown because it's a loss of control. On the other hand, if I ask him to get in the shower (after reminders that it is shower day, warning that shower time is approaching, etc) and give him a reasonable time frame to comply, and a second chance, then I will threaten a consequence if he doesn't comply because that is just him not doing what he's told, not him having a 'panic attack' response. Does that make sense?

ilikemysleep Sat 01-Jun-13 10:47:58

Adding - even though the reason he isn't complying is because like many aspies he hates washing smile We usually use 'keeping it light' , 'jollying him along' or 'ridiculous threats' to start with because DS enjoys the word play and the ridiculousness of that - 'get in the shower or I will send a flesh eating zombie in to strip the meat from your bones, which will solve the problem as you will be just a skeleton and skeletons don't need to keep clean,' that sort of thing. Also the final threat of 'consequence' has to be issued in a 'bored/weary' tone, if you give any hint of being angry that in itself will trigger a panic response / meltdown.

PolterGoose Sat 01-Jun-13 10:58:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Sat 01-Jun-13 11:51:30

I usually threaten to eat my children. grin

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