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7 yo ASD son very sad

(17 Posts)
Levantine Tue 11-Feb-14 14:33:02

How can I support him? He said last week that he is crying inside at school all the time and just pretends to be happy.

Yesterday he said that he was crying inside all day and went into the toilet on his own to have a real cry. In a way this is huge progress because he is naming his feelings rather than punching me for breathing.

Took a long time to get him to go to school, but by being very gentle and letting him take all he detours he wanted, we got there in the end. He took a bag of toys with him from home.

What can I do? We are being referred to CAMHS and we are applying for a statement. I just wondered if there were any CBT like things I could do at home - do the Huebner bookds cover sadness? I asked if he wanted something of mine or a note in his lunchbag from me and he said no.

Any ideas?

Mollyweasley Tue 11-Feb-14 14:53:05

Have you thought of listing with him the things that he is good at and that make him happy. Also perhaps try to describe what happy feels like and see if he can spot when he feels happy. Maybe some happy program like spongebob square pants (go with his special interest with that if you can): if you can, watch it with him and describe when spongebob/characters is happy and why. just a thought…. It is possible that he is concentrating on the negative feelings and forgetting about the positive ones.

Levantine Tue 11-Feb-14 17:05:49

Molly that is brilliant advice, thank you. I have talked about looking forward to things, but not really about what happiness is

PolterGoose Tue 11-Feb-14 18:48:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bialystockandbloom Tue 11-Feb-14 18:53:45

What support are school giving him? Is he on SA+, have any additional support even without (in lieu?) of a statement?

My ds is going through similar (I think we've been on threads together recently about this).

At the suggestion of our ABA supervisor, his TA now sporadically does some "well done" lists at the end of a day, listing things he's done really well that day. Could be academic stuff, or just things like listening really nicely, or anything he has found difficult generally. This has definitely helped his motivation, he loves looking over the lists at home and seeing how well he's done at things. He sounds similar to your ds, in that he's more likely to look at the negatives, and any tiny thing is perceived as a massive failure or negative. As mollyweasly said, identifying the things he's good at has definitely helped.

Levantine Tue 11-Feb-14 19:37:44

Thanks all for advice, he definitely focuses only on the bad, there are a lot of things at school that are quite good

He's on SA+. He goes to the class TA before school starts, he does some social stories, he is going to have some art therapy next half term, he has a card for if it's too noisy or if he needs to get up and walk around.

Praise is really difficult with him, he often hates it, so that makes it quite hard to make him feel positive about himself. I try to praise him to other people when he is in earshot. I think sometimes though he hates praise if he is being patronised. When I say eg you got full marks in spelling test he is quite chuffed.

He is so complicated. I am beginning to wonder about pathological demand avoidance, as his anxiety around being asked to do something is awful and I think that might be what makes school so unbearable

PolterGoose Tue 11-Feb-14 20:30:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksterbear Tue 11-Feb-14 20:48:42

My DS is also 7 and has dxes of SPD, anxiety, and ASD (PDA). He can also be very negative, tends to catastrophise, and, like yours, can respond really badly to praise at times, seeming to feel like he's being patronised and/or manipulated.

He has a "good news book" which we and school both write in which has been of some help.

We also have a "happy chart" which is that he has to try to tell us one thing that made him feel happy / laugh / smile or whatever, every day after school, for a sticker on his chart, with a small prize at the end of the week (the point being he will always get the prize as the goal is completely achievable, it doesn't matter what the thing is he tells us, if that makes sense; it's just to get him feeling more positive about school).

Other than that, we just have to pick our moments to praise him (can often tell by gut instinct when it's a good time to do so), and try to keep the praise as precise and factual as possible, with as little gushing and generalising as possible.

MariaNotChristmas Tue 11-Feb-14 21:16:05

I'm not a great fan of all this praise stuff. Far too neurotypical American.

Specific, positive, targeted feedback, nothing to do with 'you', but clearly related to a single, identified, deliberate action: much easier to cope with

Dealing with various different over-enthusiastic people, inconsistently seeming to 'like' you more at certain times, perhaps when they choose to get excited over some random small success: very stressful.

MariaNotChristmas Tue 11-Feb-14 21:19:52

Complete thread hijack, but couldn't resist sharing this "What British people mean"

Redoubtable Wed 12-Feb-14 07:30:00

Levantine, my DS is now 9 but I have been through similar at 7. Lots of stress and anxiety and lashing out at me because that was a safe way for him to manage his emotions.

The resources I found good were 'How to talk to kids will listen'- I found this good for targeted positive feedback (which MariaNotC mentions above) and for helping him to learn about his own emotions.

The other thing I have found really useful (and I stumbled on it one evening while trying to de-stress him for sleep) was using mindfulness/visualisations to relax.
My DS is highly verbal so he was able to relate to a visualisation around puppies (which he loves) and that really calmed him- to the point where we recorded it and he uses it as needed now.

Jacksterbear Wed 12-Feb-14 07:30:27

Think we ae saying similar things re praise, Maria (like your link grin)

Mollyweasley Wed 12-Feb-14 09:14:45

I heard it is quiet usual for people on the spectrum to struggle with direct praise and I read recently about praising the deliberate action that has lead to a positive result rather than the result itself. I guess that would work with people with ASD as 1) they are in control and 2) it makes total sense and its logical. Also I heard that "solid" reward e.g a sticker to accompanied the praise is a good idea. I guess in the case of somebody who does not like verbal praise you could just give the sticker (removing words,emotions) at first anyway.

MariaNotChristmas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:38:55

Jackster, I think we are saying the same.

I've been trying to figure out what's so horrible about untargetted adult praise.

I think it's the power imbalance: expecting a dc to react positively because a mighty adult has arbitrarily decided to 'approve' of the dc today. Which subliminally suggests the dc should also feel sad, if tomorrow they arbitrarily decide they disapprove. Bad enough for neurotypical dc, bordering on emotional abuse for those with significant extra challenges.

Levantine Wed 12-Feb-14 18:03:00

Thanks everyone, this has been so helpful. I've got lots of things to try - DS actually wants a star chart at the moment as his younger brother has one for staying in bed at night, so I will give that a go. Our ds's sound very similair jacksterbear, did you find it easy to get a PDA dx? I am thinking more and more about pursuing one.

redoubtable we have a cd that has bed time meditations n it that has been really good and ds has asked me for a daytime one before so I will do that too.

Also the specific praise thing gives me something else to suggest to school when I see them on Friday.

The discussion about praise has been really interesting. I haven't been able to articulate what seems so off about it. Praising him is so totally about my needs I think and not his.

thanks thanks all

Jacksterbear Wed 12-Feb-14 18:25:46

Re PDA: we have a private dx, from the Elizabeth Newson centre, of ASD as his primary condition "with a profile best described by the term PDA syndrome".

On the NHS, both the CDC and CAMHS have said he shows "symptoms of PDA" but havn't given a formal dx (and they also seem to disagree about whether PDA is part of the autism spectrum confused - CAMHS say it is, CDC seem to think it isn't). He is due to be seen again by the CDC paed soon - we're hoping they will agree to confirm the private dx.

Levantine Wed 12-Feb-14 20:31:40

Thanks Jackster, I think I will raise it when we next see the paediatrician

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