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How to handle over-sensitive child?

(30 Posts)
Fourarmsv2 Thu 05-Nov-15 11:00:46

DS2 (9) is over sensitive to being told off, things going wrong, losing things.... Anything negative.

So a warning at school (he's had 3 in last two school years) results in crying at school, awful behaviour at home and anxiety for weeks.

Teacher and SENCO have both said he needs to 'man up'.

But this is him. He's always been different from DS1. Fragile.

Post the last issue I've raised this formally with the SENCO (other sensory issues too) and asked them to refer me / him for help.

Very little evidence of issues in school, it all comes out at home.

Yesterday he didn't get a part in the school play. We've had hours of crying, initial refusal to go to school and then him being (gently) taken from me at the school door by a lovely support worker.

How can I help him? How should
I be dealing with his irrational level of upset to things most people shrug off instantly or quickly?

I'm not quite sure what (if anything) might be his issue. He did stop breathing at birth and it took a good few minutes to resuscitate him. He has some medical issues that were diagnosed antenatally. He's been a different / difficult baby, toddler and now child. He ticks lots of SPD boxes. Who should I be asking to see? He's been referred to the school nurse and an OT.

zzzzz Thu 05-Nov-15 13:35:15

I'm not sure asking to see someone is going to solve this.
Building resilience in an anxious person with low self esteem takes lots and lots of time. It's human nature that negative experiences impact us far more than positive ones so the sheer number of positive experiences needed by the time you recognise there is an issue means you need to think in terms of years not months.
Mindfulness is often mentioned as a good strategy for anxiety. My focus is "positive experiences".

PolterGoose Thu 05-Nov-15 15:53:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fourarmsv2 Thu 05-Nov-15 16:52:50

Zzzzz - I'm not really sure what you mean? I should create more positive experiences? I'll look into mindfulness but I'm not sure he can be rational when upset.

Thanks PG - is that helping with worrying about things that have happened or just things that might happen? DS2 worries about both. So a car crash on TV and he's worrying that will happen to me etc. in addition to his OTT reactions to negative things that have happened.

PolterGoose Thu 05-Nov-15 17:10:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Thu 05-Nov-15 17:54:39

The simple (which is really all I know) explanation is that negative experiences make a larger impact on you than positive (so caveman eats berry and pukes, he frets about eating anything berry like. Caveman eats berry and it's ok, not so memorable). So for our children experiences that are negative will loom larger in their minds than good experiences and much larger than average ones. So you might be genuinely having an ok day, but then you lose at snakes and ladders and the misery wipes out all the ok.
Conversely many small positive experiences can tip the perception the other way.
When building resilience (the ability not to melt with misery at small negatives) the key is multiple positives. These don't have to be directly related to the hurdle involved.

Feel good activities are things like achieving (set goal then achieve eg swim a width), recognition (both of peers and superiors), and being lucky.

Youarentkiddingme Thu 05-Nov-15 18:49:20

My ds is a worrier re getting into trouble etc. For him it seems to be routed in the fact he doesn't know how to react to situations.
For us talking through how he thinks he can handle situations helps - but it does take a long time of going over and over it and them having to see that his solution works when he gets the opportunity to try it out.

I ignore those that tell him to man up!

zzzzz Thu 05-Nov-15 19:20:14

The "man up" thing is despicable in this caseangry

Fourarmsv2 Thu 05-Nov-15 20:29:23

I know. Trying to keep them on side, but it hurt. It makes me sad to think that's how they feel though.

I'm a natural worrier too, if something goes wrong it takes a lot of mental effort for me to 'not cry over spilt milk', DS2 isn't there yet. I take ADs which really help with this, maybe there's a genetic link? Having done lots of research into SPD I have lots of the issues too when I'm stressed, can keep a lid on it most of the time due to the AD I think.

He seems to struggle A LOT more though if he comprehends something as unfair. E.g. A warning from a teacher for talking in a test when he was asking a friend to pass a rubber.

He actually ran away from a dinner lady the other day because he felt that he was about to be unfairly told off. shock That's a first, and I suspect only because the dinner lady is also his best friend's mum. Otherwise he manages to mask his feelings very well at school.

Fourarmsv2 Thu 05-Nov-15 20:31:25

Zzz - we try really hard with building positive experiences, but any tiny minor issue clouds his feelings completely. So he could win £1 on 2p machines but still fret about the 2p that got stuck so he couldn't play it. Giving him 2p doesn't eradicate the feeling.

zzzzz Thu 05-Nov-15 20:35:35

The psychologist we saw said 20+ positives to remediate for a negative with an average nt child shock

So that's like going on to win 20 2p's.

It's an Everest

Fourarmsv2 Thu 05-Nov-15 20:53:44

He often won't even talk about the negative thing.

I see the wobbly bottom lip and can sometimes probe and get it out. I hate it when it's something I can easily sort (lost minion toy, mislaid jumper at school or something he's broken that was destined for the bin) that he's made himself sick with worry about.

Other times I just get this angry boy. That I know is probably a sad boy, but until he tells me what do I do?

He just can't bring himself to talk to me about it. sad

zzzzz Thu 05-Nov-15 21:04:08

It's not about fixing the individual worries (this is my feeling not fact iykwim) it's about strengthening the whole.

What is he good at?
What might he be good at?
Who does he seek approval from? How can he gain there approval?
Does he feel he is a "lucky" person?
What would make him feel lucky?

zzzzz Thu 05-Nov-15 21:04:53

Their approval not there, sorry.

PolterGoose Thu 05-Nov-15 21:05:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fourarmsv2 Thu 05-Nov-15 23:56:18

Food for thought zzzz

I don't think he cares about my approval. I get most of the anger and rage. He was in pieces yesterday but didn't mention it at all to his dad on the phone (works away M-F).

He cares a little more about his dad's approval.

But he mainly seeks in school and equally feels pain if he doesn't have it.

His teacher's word is gospel. Never mind that DH and I are fairly well educated. Trying to dissuade him of something he believes his teacher has said is impossible and results in melt downs. He has an excellent memory (for facts and events) and can't cope with generalisation.

Will ask him about his feelings re luck tomorrow.

PG - it's hard isn't it. I hate saying 'he's upset' when he's having a temper tantrum or 'he's tired' or 'hungry'. His emotions seem a bit scrambled. Sometimes I don't realise and then a biscuit and a hot chocolate and I've got a new child and he was just hungry / low blood sugar.

I don't think his diet helps. He massively restricts what he'll eat so eats a really high carb diet. His blood sugar swings must be massive. I'm the same, but I eat a low carb diet to control it. He couldn't because his staples are pasta, bread & weetabix. sad

He's a complicated little soul. I wish I could pin it down to one thing and have a strategy to help him. Wonder how long it will be until we see an OT? And if they can even help him?

Jerbil Fri 06-Nov-15 01:17:46

There is a book called "what to do when you worry too much". Might be worth you working on that with your DC and see if you can start to unravel things so you know who best to go to. CAMHS, if you can get a referral and get a decent professional would be great.

Jerbil Fri 06-Nov-15 01:18:35

oh, sorry. also if you're thinking sensory overload then The Out of Sync child is a fantastic book too.

PolterGoose Fri 06-Nov-15 07:06:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fourarmsv2 Fri 06-Nov-15 07:37:24

Honestly, yes PG, since he was very small I've suspected some ASD. I've asked at nursery, reception, school nurse, SENCO...

He has changed a little over the years - he was very demand avoidant previously, but I suspect he still is, it's just that circumstances (GPs used to look after him and his brother before & after school, now brother is in Y7 so it's just him) and our handling of him have changed and so the situation has appeared to show an improvement.

If it's just him and me and I handle him correctly he's OK. Ish. If someone else looks after him (thinking back to a dreadful almost extended family splitting apart incident), things can go horribly wrong.

Can children with Aspergers mask at school?

Other random thing - they have a mental maths competition at school. He always does well because he memorised the times table facts from a poster. Struggles a bit more with division, but is still faster than me. But doesn't know his number bonds and so counts on his fingers. ?!?

I'll see if they have those books in our staff library (teacher) Thankyou smile

Youarentkiddingme Fri 06-Nov-15 07:47:57

I'm with polt this is just words on a screen but your earlier post resonated with me - my DS has a primary dx of asd.
He is the same with maths as well cannot recall number bonds, or for him his timetables, yet just did a GCSE modular paper on angles and got 100% - he's year 7! There's certain patterns and things he sees but certain things he just cannot internalise and generalise.

Have a look at spikey profiles.

And yes totally masking isn't uncommon. These children are cognitively able and so can work out the behaviour isn't ok - behave appropriately - but it's a full time job masking and the resulting meltdowns are often mammoth as a result. I always describe it like imagining being placed in a home of a foreign family and different culture. Knowing how to imitate what's acceptable for them - but not knowing what you can and should be doing. Exhausting.

You sound like you are really handling it well though.

zzzzz Fri 06-Nov-15 08:33:55

smile he sounds familiar to me too. I think from my motley crews experience, what you do and how you handle it is very much dependent on the scatter of difficulty/ability and that changes as they grow and social situations change. Anxiety is our biggest hurdle.
My experience of seeking dx for obvious differences has been worse than you could imagine so my focus is and always will be "what can WE do, now, to help".

zzzzz Fri 06-Nov-15 08:36:16

As an aside youare Montessori assign a colour (and length) to each digit which can make times tables a whole different sequencing activity wink

Youarentkiddingme Fri 06-Nov-15 16:20:34

That's interesting zzzzz I'll look into that. I've also been thinking a lot today about the positive experiences and the amount needed to counteract a negative one.
Ds had an OT assessment this morning and it was interesting hearing him say he doesn't do many things because he knows he can't and hates that he fails when he tries. I said how I never mind if he tries and fails (drops objects, spills stuff etc). I then considered that perhaps he does need more physical support from me to succeed at certain things before he has the confidence to try alone again.

Fourarmsv2 Fri 06-Nov-15 17:51:02

It's so lovely to be able to talk to you all. Although I'm sorry your LOs have these issues too.

Will read about spikey profiles.... Whilst I watch a small boy doing constant forward and backward rolls the length of the lounge whilst watching TV. Seems to be how he destresses. He's really tired this week with all of the fireworks that have been going off. His hearing is amazing.... Great at times, but it means alarms and fireworks drive him insane.

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