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How the hell do I sort my family out?

(15 Posts)
PhilPhilConnors Fri 19-Feb-16 10:03:44

Ds2 has ASD, PDA and SPD, ds1 had a private but unofficial assessment that showed up ASD, OCD and anxiety. Ds3 has sensory stuff going on, and we have a paed appointment coming up as we have a few concerns.

Both older boys are constantly insulting each other and being nasty, which leads to ds2 hurting others, or trying to.
Ds1 is 15 and can't play appropriately with his 5 yr old brother (ds3), he is too loud with him, winds him up to the point of ds3 lashing out. We stop him, try to model appropriate playing etc, but ds1 sulks and gets very angry when we do this, and it never sinks in, so we have to supervise.
Many of ds2's meltdowns are a result of ds1 winding him up, being too loud, not being quiet when we ask him to, but he refuses to comply for ds2's sake because ds2 never complies for his sake.

Ds1 is having a hard time at school and is deciding whether he wants to be homeschooled or not, so he has a lot going on, which is exacerbating his behaviour.

Home is set up to be ASD friendly, predictable routines, everything written down so there are no (or as few as possible) surprises.

Individually ds1 is very easy, ds2 less so, but together, or with ds3, it's a nightmare and I'm doing a crap job at the moment.

We try to keep them split up, but they will only do this when they are rational enough to see that this is how it works.

If anyone has any tips how to improve things at home, please let me know, I'm running out of ideas!

zzzzz Fri 19-Feb-16 12:19:51

Remember you've done the winter before and it is always like this without space and warmth to spill outside.

Do they have their own bedrooms? I think everyone should have their own space if possible. Our twins share but ds2 has the top bunk to hide.

As far as noise goes have you got those headphone things so ds2 can muffle annoying noise makers?

ds15 will have to accept that if he winds ds3 up all the time it has to be supervised. Personally I would video it and play it back in a quieter moment and talk about what he did well and what wasn't so great.

Do they have enough to do? (don't be insulted I go through this in my head when my 5 are creating it's not a comment on your family or anything)

Have you changed environment recently/regularly?

Enough food/fresh air/sleep?

Are they getting enough exercise? Particularly your oldest? RDA will let you go a shovel muck if he's up to that or what about gym or we have been considering a rowing machine at home.

Is it really reasonable to expect a 5 year old and a 15 year old to get on THAT well?

Fostering good sibling relationships is a bit of a struggle sometimes. Keep lots of photos of past times about. Talk about family events. Plan trips with subsets of the family.

Sorry this isn't very coherent, I'm throwing ideas out there in the hopes they spark something that might help.

A common enemy is invaluable. Annoying relatives are good wink

PolterGoose Fri 19-Feb-16 12:57:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

moosemama Fri 19-Feb-16 13:55:10

I only have 1 with ASD, he is just shy of 14 years old and one off the biggest issues at home is how he winds his 7 year old sister up. Similar stuff, too loud, too rough, insults etc. Even where there are common interests (dd is just getting into computer games) they can't get on.

Ds1 and ds2 share a room and I feel for ds2 sometimes, as he has no space to retreat to, although he's generally a very amenable, laid-back chap, every now and again it all gets too much for him and he needs a break. On those occasions I let him go and sit in my bedroom with a book or laptop.

Do your boys have similar interests or different ones? Just wondering if they might accept the separation (divide and conquer is very much the pattern here during holidays) if they both had something discrete to do that the other wasn't interested in. Say for example ds2 would like to do some baking with you and ds1 wants to play computer games or read about his special interest? Not necessarily those things obviously, but something along those lines.

I am guilty of allowing ds1 to play on his phone or laptop a little longer than usual during the holidays, purely because that's his safe-place, that he uses when things get overwhelming for him, he can block the world out when he's gaming and it therefore reduces sibling conflict. (It used to be reading that did this, but sadly that doesn't work anymore.)

The other thing we do is send one child off to Grandma and Granparents for a day each holiday. That way they all get some valuable 1:1 time and just having 1 less child in the house, regardless of who that child is, seems to make for a calmer house all round. Is that a possibility at all? If you could do something similar, both yours would be getting 1:1 time and a break from each other, which would also reduce your stress levels.

You're not doing a crap job, it's hard enough with 1 with ASD and two NT dcs let alone more than one of them having sensory issues etc, that conflict with each others' needs. It absolutely iis a nightmare and so exhausting.

One chink of hope I would offer is that once ds1 was finally happy at school the level of conflict and general noise/chaos/stress at home reduced quite significantly, so hopefully when your ds1 has made up his mind and either moves to a school he prefers or is homeschooled and his stress levels come down things will improve.

PhilPhilConnors Fri 19-Feb-16 16:13:22

Thank you,
Moose, we're really hoping that ds1 settling down will mean an improvement, he's so obnoxious and difficult at the moment, I do understand why, but it's not easy to deal with!

We don't limit screen time, because without it I would get nothing done. Neither are obsessed though, so tend to limit themselves. There is a game they will sometimes play together.

Zzzzz, yes to own rooms, and plenty of fresh air and exercise, there isn't really a difference between winter and summer here, as we still have dogs to walk and chickens to see to, and they still fight whilst walking.
Same with food, both get more grumpy if they are due a meal, so we make sure food is regularly given.
Having enough to do may be an issue, mainly because it takes so long to get out of the house! One or both of them will "lose" shoes and clothes and decide they're not going, so the transition between being in and going out is tricky.
The 15 yr old leads the play with the 5 yr old, he wants to play more than the 5 yr old does, but he doesn't recognise when the 5 yr old has had enough, but gets cross when we inevitably intervene.

Ds3 will wear headphones, ds2 won't, not sure why, we have two types and loads of ear plugs, but he hates them all.

Common enemy does make them get on, but that enemy is usually me, it's hard to work out when is easiest, when they hate each other or when they both hate me grin

I think I underestimate how much change to routine knocks them, even good things. I wonder if a daily broken-down timetable would help, is there a way to do this without it looking patronising?

I think I also don't know how to implement zero-tolerance. We do try, particularly with teasing and violence, but nothing we do makes any long term difference, so if anyone has any good ideas how to do this, that would be great! (We do time out for ds2, or natural consequences where possible. Ds1, we remove devices, but this makes no difference at all, even if he loses them for weeks, he doesn't care!)

We have had a cease fire this afternoon, so I've managed to do stuff apart from refereeing, which has been nice.

moosemama Fri 19-Feb-16 17:34:59

We've done a loose daily timetable for school holidays in the past and it did help. We used to agree it together and stick it on the fridge door - making sure the times weren't too specific and there was always a note at the bottom reminding them that the timetable didn't apply for days when we were going out somewhere. (eg, breakfast between 8:30 and 9:00, walk dogs between 10:00 and 11:00, lunch 12:30-1:30, computer time 4:00-5:30, tea 6:00-6:30, reading time 8:00-9:00, lights out at 9:00 pm)

Ds1 gets really attached to specific times for doing things and is dreadful with the change from school to holiday/home and back, every single time. Thankfully, as he's got older the time it takes for him to settle in at either end of the holiday has reduced.

We had a bit of a hiccough after the summer holidays because we failed to notice he'd allocated himself a time-slot for having a shower, which of course was then in the middle of the school day, so he flatly refused to shower to begin with, other than during his time-slot at weekends. He then chose a new time-slot, that was basically 'lights out' time, so a clear attempt at thwarting bedtime rules. Dh made the mistake of giving into that a couple of times and now it's a battle to get him showered before bedtime. hmm

Andro Fri 19-Feb-16 18:07:06

not sure why, we have two types and loads of ear plugs, but he hates them all.

He may find them disorienting (they really can be; reduced or muffled hearing can be confusing and terrifying, some people adapt better than others) or he may be experiencing a painful/restrictive/unpleasant sensation from wearing them (in terms of feel as opposed to sound).

moosemama Fri 19-Feb-16 19:06:15

I can't abide headphones myself, either over the ears or buds. The buds hurt and the others muffle the sound and make me feel unbalanced for some reason. Can't wear earplugs for the same reason, which isn't great giving dh's snoring. hmm

PhilPhilConnors Fri 19-Feb-16 19:24:40

I love ear plugs, I think I'd go mad without them!

That's interesting Andro, never thought of that!

I think I'm going to try some sort of timetable at the door to see if it helps.

dietcokeandwine Fri 19-Feb-16 19:25:05

No advice op but lots of sympathy. We also have three, DS1 11.5 who has Aspergers and ADHD, and DS2 and DS3 (aged 6 and 3 respectively) who are NT, chatty, smiley and confident and who DS cannot cope with at all. It is bloody hard.

Sometimes I say to my dh that it doesn't feel like we're a family. Just two parents trying to juggle children with such different needs that we rarely manage any positive whole-family time.

Divide and conquer is our major strategy (one of us will take DS1 out whilst the other will do something with the little ones). The other is letting DS1 have far more screen time than I would ever allow if he wasn't on the spectrum and in need of that down time. DS1 has also made himself a little 'gaming den' under his bed (he has one of those mid sleepers) which is his sanctuary.

All of this helps but there is almost no relationship between him and the younger two at all - he only ever tells them to go away, shut up or that he hates them sad Any attempt to force interaction (even a simple mealtime) results in him lashing out at them. The younger two are very close and generally dead easy to manage as a twosome but it makes me so sad that there is this divide and I just don't know what to do to make it any better.

For us it's not a school stress thing - we are very lucky in that DS1 enjoys school, does well academically and has a good solid network of like minded friends there. If anything he'd rather be at school than at home, because school = friends time and home = having to cope with brothers time.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant with no helpful advice at all but you're not alone and I sympathise hugely.

PhilPhilConnors Sun 21-Feb-16 12:28:03

I can completely identify with not feeling like a family!
We occasionally have good times together, but mostly when ds1 and 2 are together they hate each other!

Ds1 has made his choice and isn't going back to school. Ds2 understands but is having mega meltdowns over it, which I can understand, but hopefully when things have settled down we won't get the constant aggro from ds1.
Ds2 has a gaming den under his bed too!

If anyone has any good zero tolerance strategies please let me know. Ours inflame the situation more than solve it.

zzzzz Sun 21-Feb-16 13:35:41

I'm only zero tolerance on hurting each other and to be honest I really think that's because mine don't have that difficulty and so respond to my tactics rather than any super parenting iyswim
My top tip would really be do what you enjoy rather than trying to do the kind of things people seem to think children enjoy and respond to. There are many reasons this works but primarily it's because your children are more like you than generic child and you are more likely to do it and keep doing it if it's stuff you enjoy. So for example we DONT go to libraries because they gross me out but DO go to bookshops (especially with costas) before SN my older children liked the pub and long haul flights and woolworths toys they didn't like playgroup, or going to London ..... I wonder why? grin

PhilPhilConnors Sun 21-Feb-16 13:45:13

Thanks, that's very helpful! He is passionate about vintage engines, so I can see that they will feature heavily!
We're going to try to keep up with maths and English GCSE so hopefully no problems with him getting an apprenticeship, everything else is going to be his choice.

zzzzz Sun 21-Feb-16 14:59:17

Have you thought about Interhigh? We did it for a bit till dd was back in school and it was FANTASTIC!

PhilPhilConnors Sun 21-Feb-16 15:17:55

I had a look, but I think you have to take a group of core subjects (unless I've read it wrong?), which ds would struggle with.
He's not very academic, but is very talented when it comes to engines.
I will look again, because if he could just take English and maths that would be brilliant.
We're hoping he can go to a local college in September to take a level 2 course in mechanics.
He has 5 old engines which he's restoring, so is looking forward to having more time to devote to them.

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