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How can I help him calm down?(7 Posts)
DS is 5 and has ASD, anxiety and sensory issues
After the initial winding down after the end of term (DS hates school and gets very stressed) we were having a lovely, calm and happy holiday...until we started meeting up with people.
We've had 3 social occasions (a party and 2 play dates - 1 with a friend from school at home, another in the park with my friend and her younger DC) and DS has been angry, oppositional and aggressive before each - I'm assuming anxiety. And ridiculously hyperactive afterwards - I'm assuming overloaded.
He's known 2 days in advance about what we are doing (asks a ton of questions but I only tell him this much or find it makes things worse) I have prepped him each time briefly about what will happen but I have no idea how to help these behaviours or what I believe is the cause behind them (I could of course be wrong)
I am trying vitamin supplements (omega 3, a multi vitamin and have ordered magnesium), we're using essential oils, calm music, we have a calm area available, trying to meet sensory needs, herbal tea, looking at whether diet might be a problem...I feel like nothing I try is making any difference...he literally cannot keep still after these events for the entire rest of the day, he refuses/is completely unable to talk about how he feels about any of it
Any advice very much appreciated
The anxiety beforehand and fallout afterwards are pretty normal here, and has no relation to how much ds enjoyed it, he just gets peopled out. It's up to you to do a cost/benefit analysis to work out which things are worth it and which aren't.
My ds was like this when younger, and can still be like this (at 14!!) unless it is a very familiar setup. Ie: same park as before, same people as before, same activities as before. Or a very structured trip somewhere with not too many detours. Which he loves.
I think you are doing the right thing to do some socialising but I would recommend increasing the amount of preparation and explaining, in perhaps minute details in so far as you can control the activities you do (ie: don't say you going to play football if that is not on the cards) It might be that you are telling him about things that worry and frighten him so that is why the "preparing" seems to make things worse. Would a clock help, we will do this at this time and be back at this time?
Also be much more proactive in considering the sort of things that will work when you meet up with other people - ie the sort of food provided, the sort of things he might kick off over (I'm thinking toilets, or needing to go, walking a long distance when he doesn't know why or where to, heights, sharing, fixations on things he particularly wants to do and won't stop) I'm afraid the list is endless, but there were so many things my ds DID like doing and enjoyed that you will get there in the end!!!
I remember a particular grim outing with ds at 12 when we met with some people I knew but he didn't know that well, and we proceeded to go round a stately home, and he refused to wait to hear anything from the tour guide, and fixated on the fact that we were going to play football with the "friends" when we got outside, only they didn't come out and wanted to go in a different direction... Massive fail on my part, but so so easily done, and he looked like a complete nightmare child, as was crying complaining and arguing throughout. He then saw the same children in a different setting (;local park, bit of a kick around) and got on very well with them. Just shows how difficult it is to think out of the box, and yet how easy it is, in a way...Keep things simple especially with a five year old..
Ds2 was/is still impatient and anxious about some things, but so enthusiastic about people and outings that I can promise it will get better. With lots of forethought.
Ds2 was very good at small parties from five, with lots of structured games, and very bad at big loud parties of 10 or more people, "crying in the corner" bad I mean. Soft play seemed to release stress though, that was fine.
A lot of children of five find non-routine things very stressful, you don't need to apologise for your child to others either (I'm sure you don't, just that fear of judgey people can make one feel worse as a parent in these situations, and it is a sort of frustration that comes when one wonders why one's child isn't enjoying things that other children "seem" to manage fine)
Might it be worth showing him on a calendar which days you are meeting people and then crossing it off, so he knows no more surprises are in store, and can rely on lovely calm holiday. It may be that he is hyperactive because he is preparing himself for the "next" meeting, whatever you say, and you may have to reinforce that he doesn't need to worry, there will be no other meetings except the usual routines that you have planned. Sometimes what appears obvious to us, is less obvious to small children.
He may also be worrying about going back to school and the meetings with other children are triggering off bad feelings about that. But he doesn't want to think about school, just to blot out bad thoughts of it, so wanting to talk over events is the last thing he wants to do. I don't have any advice about that unfortunately, I am sure someone here will come and give better feedback on that.
You've all been marvellous thank you!
We can reduce the play dates of course..but I thought 3 in 2 weeks was a good balance. But there was a party as well.
Absolutely he's 'peopled out' I get that too, thank you for raising that.
Weirdly soft play seems to help for us too. I'm guessing it's the sensory needs sorted so the social stuff is no biggy.
We had our last play date of the holidays today which went much better because I was mean and didn't tell him we were meeting people until we were almost at the park (so he knew we were going but didn't know they'd be there too) just as an experiment really...his behaviour before hand was fine, he got a bit wound up with me towards the end but this is normal...I don't apologise for his behaviour because generally he holds all the worst stuff in until we are home or people have gone but also because I understand the reasons behind most of it so don't see it as something to make excuses for. I would obviously apologise if he was rude or something.
Will have to see how he is with regards to hyperactivity later. It's the thing I struggle with the most I must admit.
He is definitely worried about going back to school. I'm so sad I have to send him back, he's been a joy to be around without being stressed out all the time (both of us) because of school
Thank you all for your replies and advice
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