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Social Communication Disorder and managing anger(15 Posts)
Does anyone else have a child diagnosed with SCD, who has no control over their anger? My 7 year old son seems to have no self control when he loses it and we are struggling to help him.
At home he has always been physical when he loses it, but he has only started responding physically with children he has altercations with at school this school year and we are at a loss as to how to deal with this or to understand the change. The school are struggling to cope too and it has caused a breakdown in our previously good relationship with them.
We have talked with our son, worked through alternative strategies for when he feels himself getting frustrated or if someone hurts him. We have used social stories and drawn comic strips to help him work through what has happened and to see that the immediate consequences are not the only ones he has to consider.
Has anyone else been in this position? Do you have any advice? We are at a loss.
Bumping for you. Has ds had OT assessment to rule out sensory issues? These were part of the issue for our ds (now much older). I think he was hitting out in panic as part of an over responsive startle response when surprised or touched. I suppose he also felt under constant attack from passing bodies bumping him, or noise hurting his ears - or getting the wrong end of the stick so to speak - as well as getting into trouble without intending to. We eventually got a sensory diet (set of exercises/ routine) which helps to calm down his explosive side, before school. We taught him like you have to step back from situations, or if he felt confused or under attack. Just a thought - ignore if inappropriate.
ds1 has AS rather than SCD but similarly has a very short fuse. He goes from calm to ballistic in a matter of seconds so anger management strategies were not terribly effective for him. Although there is a book called "The Red Beast" which we were recommended which you could try - your son is probably about the right age for it although it is basically a story picture book.
What we need to do for ds1 is to reduce general anxiety levels as then his ability to cope when things go wrong is much improved. We have also tried to teach to walk away although that has back fired at school on some occasions when he has gone and hidden in places he is not meant to be.
The Red Beast really helped my son. It is a long process though. My son has asd, but what has helped us the most is to reduce demands on him as much as possible. I think he gets tired and stressed much more quickly than other children and just takin as many stressors out of his life as possible has made a big difference. So we do far less than other families at weekends, I never take him to the shops etc. Sensory issues are big here too, I don't know if that is an issue for your son at all but if you haven't explored them then it might be worthwhile.
Thanks magso, he has not had an OT assessment, although he does have some sensory issues, so some of the problems could stem from that. How did you develop a sensory diet for your ds and how did you find what worked for him?
OneInEight our ds was diagnosed with SCD, but with a working diagnosis of AS. He also loses it in a split second, so it is hard to spot and get to him when you can still reason with him. DS is much better able to control himself if his anxiety levels are low, but sadly the school environment is not conducive to low anxiety.
If somebody hurts him, whether intentionally or by accident, he responds violently and this is usually the point when an adult becomes aware that there is an issue and intervenes. He then runs off and doesn't tell the adult why he lashed out and the teacher has said they do not have the time to find out why, so he is just removed / punished and I am told he has hurt someone again. It is so frustrating. We feel so powerless as his parents to help with the issues in school and I am not sure how much we can expect the school to do to help him, although I am feeling disappointed in his teacher this year. It is as though she doesn't recognise or acknowledge his additional needs at all.
We are trying to work with him at home and have had some success with him controlling anger towards his sister, but it does take a level of involvement I am not sure his teacher and TAs are willing or able to give. I have been wondering if there is any kind of outside help we could get if only we knew where to go.
Thanks Poltergoose, it is reassuring in a strange way to hear that 7 is a difficult age. I have been told there is a surge in hormones around now and this could make some behaviours worse for a period.
This is certainly the most difficult time we have experienced to date with his behaviour in school. It is ironic really that the past 6 months we have seen the biggest improvements in his behaviour at home.
Thanks Levantine. We did get The Red Beast earlier this year, but he got really angry with us every time we tried to read it with him so we have put it away for now. It is good to know it can be a good tool though, so we will certainly try it again.
I will go and have a read of the helpful links and read up on sensory diets. Thanks so much.
My DS had similar issues. At 7 years old he had no self control at all. He had a 1 to 1 teaching assistant throughout primary school because although he could be very well behaved at times, especially in structured lessons, his behaviour could be so extreme and like your DS, he could flare up in an instant. He just didn’t seem to be able to make a difference between deliberate and accidental hurt, at least not until afterwards when it was too late! (But he has developed a lot more self control with age.) So if the teacher doesn’t have time to deal with it then the school may need to put extra help in place for him.
Other things DS’s school did were to give him a slightly separate peg for his coat and bag, a special place to stand at lining up time, and a beanbag to sit on for carpet time, as these helped to avoid the crowding and pushing and poking which could be triggers. He needed especially close supervision at break time and other unstructured times.
The school did have someone who came in and did a few anger management sessions with him, which helped; he also went to a weekly social-communications skills group run by a speech and language therapist which helped to cut down some of his social frustration; and our local children’s hospital ran a therapy playscheme over one summer holiday for kids with social problems and challenging behaviour.
This is all very familiar and as you'll see you're not alone - lots of us have experienced the same thing with our children.
Realistically, you need to have school on side and working consistently with the same strategies if you're to have any chance of your son making progress. My ds and I worked damned hard at that age on home strategies but none of them were implemented at school (in fact, he had no relevant support in school at all) so no matter how hard we tried there was very little progress. In our case, we had to remove him from school to home educate before there was any real success.
My son has ASD and ADHD so not the same dx as yours, but I suppose the strategies you'd use are similar. We did a lot of work with 5-point scales, social stories, choices etc but the real issue was anxiety and that was due to bullying, lack of support in school, and lots of other problems. It helped to find the actual source of his unhappiness and what was stressing him out, and from that knowledge work out his comfort zone and stay within it for several months before starting to ease him out of it. Like many children mentioned here, ds had no self-control so he was unable to sense 'red mist' or physical sensations that would indicate he was going to blow - he just blew and there was often very little warning.
Also, in meltdown he would lose awareness of time and afterwards he'd have no recollection of events leading to his outburst, which made it extremely difficult to pick apart the situation and put in preventative strategies for him to use on similar occasions. We were all quite powerless tbh.
Does your son have a statement? If not, now would be a good time to request an assessment, so relevant school support can be put in place as soon as possible.
If it's any consolation, my son is now 16 and hasn't had anything resembling a meltdown for about five years. It does get better, but you need to find the right strategies first and be consistent in applying them.
The sensory diet was advised from a sensory trained OT, (we had to do this privately as ds was deemed too old for OT at 7 locally - I hope sensory issues are considered more mainstream now). Things improved for ds too, as he has learnt better self control. Hunger (or probably low blood sugar since he is unaware of hunger) can be a big melt down trigger for ds too.
Thats a shame about the Red Beast but I have heard good things about what to do when your temper flares.
I think you should apply for an EHCP. I found that when we began the statement process school suddenly sat up and put more provision in place. Ours is a very good and responsive school but there was still much more they could do and it made all the difference having them really concentrating on ds. So not telling him off for forgetting his coat for example, because he really will not remember it, he just isn't capable of that sort of planning.
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