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3 year old can't cope with routine change

(20 Posts)
hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 14:05:36

Ds isn't diagnosed with anything and nobody has flagged anything up he attends pre-k etc

But I don't know how to help him adapt to changes in routine and he's having huge tantrums over any

For instance: if I try to comb his hair before Iv brushed his teeth or cream his legs before his arms

Or I try to walk a different route home

Or I put his coat on before his shoes

Or things end like nursery and it's time to go home

It sounds a bit trivial now Iv written it down but he gets distraught (crying where he can't breathe) about an activity not being done in his usual order or even by the usual person (he's screamed at his nan she can't brush his teeth because mummy does it, and time out doesn't work if I try it because he gets distraught saying "daddy does time out, mummy can't do it") and distraught when things end - it's a nightmare collecting him from anywhere.

He won't leave the doctors for instance until they "Look in my mouth" with the torch thing regardless of why we are there because that's what he's decided happens at the doctors.

A crossing wasn't working the other day and I had to go across without a "green man" showing and he flipped out hitting and screaming as I carried him across since he wouldn't budge even though I explained it wasn't working

I don't know if I'm making any sense, if this is perfectly normal for any 3 year old or if there's something more going on - perhaps my parenting requires some help, he's the same with family members but nursery hasn't flagged it up at all.

Even if this is nothing and normal - any techniques anyone can recommend to help him through it?

We live in a tiny flat and I know my neighbours are hearing screams far too often, I feel like they must think I'm murdering him!

PolterGoose Wed 21-Oct-15 17:20:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 17:37:47

Thanks does your DS have a diagnosis that explains it or is it normal behaviour?

I will try to make it lighter hearted and more humorous, I'm so frazzled atm I do need to chill out

Sirzy Wed 21-Oct-15 17:39:35

Have you tried visual timetables? They can help to explain some changes and keep the routine clear for him.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 17:42:43

No I haven't tried them, I wasn't sure if he should need them if he had no diagnosis behind his behaviour but I can try...

PolterGoose Wed 21-Oct-15 17:44:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 17:56:15

I don't know. He's my pfb... And I was massively anxious about autism in my pregnancy therefore would constantly check off each milestone till he was talking but I stopped worrying about autism simply because he made friends, socialised and talked and nobody flagged it up in playgroup or pre-k.

Now I am wondering what is going on or if he's just a regular but hard work 3 year old... He's got tons of language, maybe I just expect his behaviour to be more advanced because of his speech being advanced?

Or is he purposely defiant because he's not "attached" at the moment to me? It could just be im not parenting how he needs

Does it sound like something more? Or just a paranoid mum? I don't have anyone to compare him to really. I don't see his peers behave like it when their mums collect them, and it's a new nursery so not built up rapport to ask mums about their kids in detail yet. there's the odd child playing up but they don't go into full on distraught mode like DS does (unless I'm just not seeing it)

yakkiyakkiyogi Wed 21-Oct-15 17:57:52

These aren't trivial to you at all as a mum who has to deal with them so don't think they are. I can totally relate with you here.

My DS (3.5) is similar when it comes to routines. For instance, for some time he used to think that every time we get off at one of the bus stops thats near the train station, then we HAVE to go inside and take a train because we had done that a few times in a row quite frequently. Once we were just standing by the ticket machines for almost an hour as he just sat down and wouldn't budge no matter what. The staff were quite good with him though, bringing him colouring books and stickers to divert his attention. In the end, I just had to pick him up (and that's no easy task as he is over 20kg) and literally run to the bus stop for the bus home all the while tolerating his screaming, kicking, scratching and pulling hair. After that I stopped getting off at that bus stop even if it meant taking another bus or going an extra stop till it somehow got erased from his mind one day. It wasn't easy though because as soon as he'd notice the bus going pass that stop he'd have a crying fit but I just persevered as I just could not let that routine became permanent for obvious reasons.

What makes it worse for me is that DS is pre-verbal and there is no way to explain to him why something can't happen as he doesn't understand sad

I would do something similar to what PolterGoose has suggested. Keep the routines that can be easily managed over the long term and aren't causing any harm or atleast much harm in terms of time, effort etc and try to break or modify the un-do-able ones gradually so there is some sort of middle ground. So for example, DS needs me to completely clear the table after every meal time and put his beaker in a certain place before he allows me to get him off his chair or put the packet of wipes away in the correct drawer before we go downstairs after nappy change in the morning, so these don't cause much bother for any one so I keep these. Whereas those like wanting me to go to particular stores or places every time, I change routes or sometimes get off the bus facing the other way so he wouldn't see the store (yes it does work for my son lol).

In terms of flags being raised by nursery, it could be many reasons such as they may not have noticed it because he may not be rigid about the routines there or he may prefer their routines or even he may not want to be rigid and follow the other children. If you feel you are concerned, you yourself can raise a flag and speak to your HV or someone at the local Children's Centre. You know him best and if there is something in your head telling you to explore his behaviour further, then I'd suggest to follow your mum's instincts and go ahead because whatever the outcome may be, it will be for his benefit and help.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 18:10:08

Thanks, I might ask the HV to pop over for a chat.

Iv purposely not done it yet because I suffered anxiety and depression when pregnant and feel like she'd be quick to assume it's just my anxiety and brush things off as that since nobody else has flagged anything. He's also performed beautifully in the past when she has come over leaving me looking like Iv made it up... He used to head bang in tantrums as a tot, she came to observe and of course that time he didn't do it! Thankfully he grew out of that though and learned to clap his hands crossly instead of whacking his head against the floor/cot

Iv been hoping and willing that nursery would say something to back me up but nobody has and therefore I guess it's seen as no problem...

yakkiyakkiyogi Wed 21-Oct-15 18:52:44

I can understand your hesitance. These cheeky little ones make mummies look silly in front of doctors and hvs but thats because we mummies are their comfort zone smile

If you feel your concerns won't be dealt with as per your liking then going to see a family engagement worker may be a better option. Although DS was referred through HV and the family engagement worker, I did find it so much easier to speak with the latter. I felt she didn't have the "I know children and their behaviour because I am a HV" kind of underlying attitude and was always very much focused on my feelings and opinions rather than force hers down on me iykwim. It was kind of very obvious in DS so that made things happen very swiftly and we moved from one level to the next without delay. But that isn't to say things should be any different for any children no matter what the presentation and outcome of the process is.

Maybe start keeping a note of all behaviours and incidents that cause concern and their frequency. I've found being armed with lots of information and detailed accounts of DS's behaviour had an impression on the people I had to deal with from the onset such as "this mum means business", what I'm trying to say is I've found many professionals taking me very seriously when I turned up to meet them with loads of preparation than not....one particular HV changed her condescending behaviour towards me after that ;)

PolterGoose Wed 21-Oct-15 19:15:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AntiquityOfTheTauri Wed 21-Oct-15 19:18:32

Well he does sound a lot like my 3 year old with autism. We deal with it by sticking to routines. Dh and I keep each other informed of what routines there are or if they change. I think the predictability of every day things being the same helps him cope in general and makes meltdowns smaller when things don't go Right.

We also do "one more minute" as a warning & let him say "one more minute" after its up so he feels in control. We haven't yet used a visual timer but I can see that being a thing in future.

Ds has less problems at nursery because they have fixed phrases and patterns to the day so he knows where he is.

I would definitely say you're concerned about his need for rigid routines and his over the top response to changes in them which seems out of sync with his development as a whole. Frame it as though you're telling them it's not right not asking them their opinion.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 20:17:19

Thank you this is all very helpful, I will try to video some things to show for sure

Been reading the thread to DH and he said now you've written it all down it does sound like there's more to this but in discussing it a diagnosis of any sort currently wouldn't really benefit DS probably as he doesn't need extra support in nursery, but we need to understand him so we can help him adapt and cope with family life

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 20:18:37

over the top response to changes in them which seems out of sync with his development as a whole

Thanks that actually sums it up perfectly!

PolterGoose Wed 21-Oct-15 21:44:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 22:04:53

How would I get referred for assessment ?

Atm unless I do video things and build up a lot of evidence I feel I will be laughed at as a paranoid mum and probably have anxiety medication pushed upon me before being taken seriously... He's the most sociable flirtatious child with brilliant speech so the complete opposite to anyone expecting him to have autism. I told my mum my concerns and she's laughed me off, saying he couldn't possibly have anything wrong he's just super clever at manipulating me... (He's 3.1 really? confused)

I actually have wondered if he's manipulating me myself before but he can't really know how to "manipulate" yet at his age can he?

Example being he enjoys new nursery, but cries everyday saying he doesn't on the way there and he doesn't have any friends. Teachers assure me he's making friends fine and joins in well. I said to teacher if he was older I would think he was trying to manipulate me into letting him return to his old one

Unless there are other diagnosis that could fit better and Iv just zoned in on autism being mentioned?

PolterGoose Wed 21-Oct-15 22:16:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hairbrushbedhair Wed 21-Oct-15 22:42:18

I did m chat just now and it came out as low risk

I've looked through the fact file for. 0-4 and the only thing I can really see is he has a stammer when he's arguing with me "b..b...b...but I don't want to" etc

I think it's just a behavioural issue rather than developmental issue perhaps then?

AntiquityOfTheTauri Thu 22-Oct-15 07:03:20

I think I assumed closer to 4 but he's just recently 3? It could be just developmental but very much more noticeable if his speech is advanced.

I've heard it said on here before that using behaviour management strategies for children with autism isn't going to have a negative effect if your child isn't autistic.

But if you fell there's something more I don't want to negate that as you know your child. My ds1, now he's 11 certainly has issues which taken as a whole point to the autistic spectrum. At 3 he had obsessions and could recognise the make and model of any car but, for all his big vocabulary he didn't do any social speech. He presents more like a girl with Aspergers, the social deficit only showing up as he grew. And he never did any imaginative play which I never noticed until we had ds2 and I researched autism.

Obviously I'm not saying autism either, but at 7 ds1 turned into a screaming, shouting wanting to die child because of social difficulties at school so it does pay to be aware of things that seem a bit out of sync.

AntiquityOfTheTauri Thu 22-Oct-15 07:10:49

As in if I'd known about ds1's problems I could have specifically worked on them. We've chosen not to pursue a diagnosis for ds1 as we have schooling sorted and he's also a stereotypical maths/science geek and is fine with similar types. Though i did tell him at 9 we believed he was after another outburst of him just wanting to be normal and that has eased things because he works with us.

He did have a terrible 3's rather than terrible twos though! Involved what felt like a lot of lying on the floor crying in public, but turns out not a quarter of the amount ds2 spends doing that!!

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