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DS is 5, in year 1, undiagnosed but most likely has AS. He's been stuck in a pattern of behaviour for almost a month now which I'm struggling to deal with and I can't really understand. DS is an only child and we're pretty sensitive to the pressures he's been under at school and try to accommodate his wishes and demands as much as we can.
The main problem is that, despite our best efforts, he's prone to what looks like sulking. Like a lot of kids, he enjoys playing on the iPad and watching TV. We used to limit his time on these but recently relaxed the rules to cut him some slack and noticed that he self-regulates and doesn't want to play or watch for that long anyway. He shuffles around the house from one room to another, looking bored out of his mind, he flops down on the sofa, pushing his head into the cushions and often makes nonsensical noises whilst doing it. I'm guessing he might be under-stimulated during these phases and the sounds and flopping around are stimming behaviours.
So it seems safe to assume that he needs to get out to a playground or something, something to stimulate the senses.
We're at the grandparents at the moment, he loves being here and always asks to go, they're really good at playing with him and have a lot of patience. They suggested taking him out to the playground (which he usually loves) but he doesn't want to go, he wants to go to the "playground near home". I'm almost certain it's not about the specific playground and wondering if this sort of thing sounds familiar to any of you? And I'm only highlighting this as an example of the kind of resistance he often puts up to suggestions – it's like this all the time. Always with the "but"!
I'm not sure how to help him, how to cheer him up. Tickling usually works, but it's short lived. He likes having other children to play with but he's often terrible at it and it's the only time he ever has meltdowns. My parents are willing to play with him in the childish way but again, it only sustains him for a short time.
I suppose he doesn't like being told what to do. But he's bored and we're just trying to please him. Going to the "playground near home" is unrealistic and he knows that. He's going from one activity to another and can't settle on anything.
Anyone got any good suggestions or can shed any light on this? I know it sounds kind of small but it feels like he can't snap out of this mode of behaviour and it is slowly but surely driving batshit crazy!
It sounds very familiar to me (DS, 7, ASD)
You mention he's in year 1 when I think it is very often a big adjustment to being expected to sit still and learn with no play breaks as per foundation / pre-school. Year 1 transition was very difficult for my DS.
If he's finding school hard then it's possible his anxiety is raised and then that's definitely when we see our DS's need for control ramping up.
The playground thing could be familiarity means security, or it could be his way of trying to control a world which feels very unfamiliar and beyond his control at the moment.
We often have DS being bored / disruptive but resistant to doing anything to alleviate the boredom. He's terrible at entertaining himself other than with screens (which we let him have a lot of).
Things that help us: visual references (showing an actual photo of where we want to go so he gets a picture of it in his head), doing something to make the journey there fun (e.g. Can you spot 5 green cars and find 6 conkers before we reach the park? Pokémon Go has been a godsend for us here too), being clear on timescales (we're leaving now so will back by 2pm and then you can have half an hour iPad time - visual timetables help too). Anything that removes some of the anxiety he might be feeling about leaving familiarity behind.
Is he being formally assessed too? Perhaps his school could be doing more to support him (although officially you shouldn't need any diagnosis for support as it should be needs based, but often this sadly often isn't the case)
If he's holding it together at school it's probably taking a huge toll on him that he's letting out once he gets to the place and people he feels safe with.
Thanks so much for your reply Marshmallow. There's definitely a thing with school being challenging. He wants to do his best but we've noticed his enjoyment of learning has vanished since year 1. He used to love telling us all about the phonics he was learning in Reception but all gone quiet on that front now.
I've been struggling to understand his behaviour but what you say about controlling makes sense.
I find myself starting off really calm and genuinely wanting to help him as best I can but he makes it so hard! His apparent boredom, reluctance to snap out of it and now all this controlling stuff, I'm really at a loss. We do a lot of the stuff you mentioned naturally, I think you figure it out as parents as you go along but this is a new level.
He's not being assessed yet, we're in a queue for CAMHS.
Marshmallow, what year is your DS in now? Is he finding it easier do you think? My impression is that it's just going to get harder for DS as he progresses through school. I just wish I knew how to help him.
My DS is now year 3 and I so wish I could say it's got easier, but for us and DS it hasn't and he's currently on a reduced timetable while we try and get him an EHCP which I think might eventually mean he goes to a specialist setting / indepdent school that specialises in high functioning autism.
BUT there are many many people on these boards who have DC that have managed to stay in mainstream school with the right support. Some have struggled in primary but flourished at secondary. So much depends on the school.
My DS is extremely explosive and demand avoidant (so basically has refused to do any learning and lashes out if they try and make him. He also has many sensory issues that make the classroom / playtime just too difficult for him).
He too loved foundation and was top of the class for everything, but all the demands just got too much for him after that (we did have an amazing teacher in Y2 who really 'got' him and a spark of love for learning returned - but it hasn't been so this year sadly).
In a way it's meant we've been able to access support that others who have DC who mask at school really struggle to get (but even full time 1-2-1 hasn't really worked this year).
We have found The Explosive Child book extremely helpful for us (by Dr Ross Greene) - it's often recommended on these boards.
Also read up on PDA (pathological demand avoidance). This isn't our DS's diagnosis but the strategies do really help us at home (and his profile very much fits with this)
It is fairly exhausting at times but it helps to see it all as anxiety (rather than sulking or being deliberately awkward). All behaviour is communication, you just have to try and work out the triggers if you can.
These boards have been a lifeline for me - you are absolutely not alone.
Thank you Marshmallow for your kind response. I'm so sorry to that things are getting harder for your DS, it must be very difficult. For years I've been watching and waiting to see if DS is going to cope with all that life throws at him. So far it has gone remarkably well but I am getting more concerned about school now. He still has friends (who are all slightly different, or on the periphery somehow) but I can see how school is turning into a problem.
I actually have The Explosive Child and should probably go back to it.
Thanks for all your help and advice. X
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