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Teenager hits toddler in park - at wits end(12 Posts)
I'm needing some advice, support - just an ear really. My son, nearly 18, has Down Syndrome. He struggles with communication - just has basic words after years of therapy - and over the past year has got more and more withdrawn. He doesn't like socialising as he gets frustrated that he can't join in.
We have had a good couple of days over Xmas with family visiting and he seems to have really enjoyed himself. Yesterday we went for a walk in a local park and he got cross because the ice cream shop was not open (part of his routine and the motivation for walking). He seems to calm down and we promised him one on the way home. He was doing a lot of muttering to himself and acting out the scene of not getting the ice cream as we walked along. Then suddenly he hit a toddler in the face who was walking towards us. I feel sick just writing this. The poor child and his parents were beyond shocked. The child had cut his lip and had a bump on his head. My husband took my son off whilst I tried to apologise. It was so, so awful for that poor family.
It is the first time my son has ever done anything like this at all. Yes he had a time of hitting when he was a toddler but since then he has never been violent to anyone. We are not sure where to go for advice on how to deal with this and get him some support. We know the DSA have no one and our social work team are useless. He is at College so we will ask them when he return next week but has anyone had a similar experience? What did you do?
We are at a loss. Parenting a special kid always has it moments but on the whole we have managed to brave them. This seems to be in a different league and is making me feel that we cannot take him out any longer. So sad.
You will be able to go out but he will need more support to do so. Try not to panick, of course it changes things but he is still your boy and you will find a way just as you have for everything else.
Risk assess for now - sounds a bit ott but in light of the change of behaviour I'd do that.
So, risk is : he is unsettled and hits a stranger
Prevention: ring ahead, get info on where you are going if possible, while out be alert for smaller people or possible targets if he is unsettled (pets on leads?) and distract, move him away?
Then see your GP and mention the change.
You know now what can happen. You've worked through stuff before and so you know that you can come up with a strategy to go out and about again.
You've told us here what the trigger was, the ancedental behaviour and the result. It's a case of thinking about what you do when the behaviour shows again.
Did you get the families details? Could they report to an authority for you - sometimes that's the only way to get help.
Thanks to the three of you for your support and suggestions. I will will try all of them.
I have no sensible advice just
FWIW and I don't say this lightly, if it was my baby girl he hit, I would understand and give you my love and best wishes. What you deal with every day takes amazing strength - the rest of us really can only look on in admiration.
While making every preparation for future scenarios, maybe try not to dwell on it too much. It could be a one off, and you can't change what happened. All kids do something dreadful at some stage, but it doesn't need to define them. I'm not trying to minimise what happened - I guess I'm just trying to say that it mightn't be the start of a new pattern/habit.
Happy New Year. You sound really lovely xxx
How much communication do you have with your son at what level? Will he be able to remember and reflect on the event or is it gone forever? It's very very hard to do much more than sympathise and make suggestions that might be way off the mark but I would like you to know that not everyone will think unkindly of what happened, and there we a lot of us dealing with stuff that's hard and tricky.
of course you can continue to take him out. I think sometimes when you are feeling frustrated, like your son was, you choose random animate objects to attack. I remember my daughter kicking the cat once when she was very angry, and she was a NT 11 year old. They are in your field of vision and you are feeling so angry they just add to your rage. Presumably he was completely used to never hitting you and your husband to express his anger and this was a new "solution" or outlet for him to show his anger. Maybe he felt humiliated that the toddler saw him gettting angry too.
17 is a very difficult age, lots of teenagers do random violent things and feel alone, angry and frustrated, even when they have speech and are NT.
I've had ds2 who has ASD hit people in public places (people he knows though) when upset and very frustrated. He is extremely articulate, but still resorts to attacking someone when very very upset, over what to us seems a minor disappointment, but to him was a complete change of plan (something he had set his heart on doing and couldn't understand why it wasn't happening due to external factors over which we had no control) I remember feeling like you, just so sad for him, so embarrassed and ashamed for me too, and so despairing that taking him out was backfiring - when he NEEDED to go out. It seemed an impossible connundrum. I went home and talked it through with him a lot - I emphasised how he was a friend to other person and the other person enjoyed x y z not j k f. I tried to give him an insight into the other person's point of view, I suppose it was a social story of sorts, acting out the roles. He has been pretty good since, he does things independently now he is 14 and I don't worry about him making big mistakes and attacking people. But two years ago I would have felt the need to micromanage him constantly, because that was the developmental level he was on, emotionally in his relationships with others. It was very frustrating for him and us, it took a lot of positive situations for thing to improve. It is still not perfect.
I suppose I am saying that if your son can find some ways of enjoying social interaction, and feel more positive, then the rest will follow. We had to set so many things up for ds2 and shed many tears in the process of trying to give him social life. So many things went terribly wrong, but they are starting to go better now. Easier said than done, I know, but when you are an unhappy teen/pre-teen it makes you tense, and then things start going wrong.
My instinct would be to find someone who has a toddler, asap, a friend with a toddler, and try and model very loving behaviour with one, and show appreciation to him for copying you. So he is not afraid of them or angry with them for being "random" but copes better next time. I apologise if this is an impossible solution atm. Ds2 really prides himself now on playing nicely with small children. This is the person who delibarately tripped up a five year old aged 10 for telling him he was "weird" - i remember thinking at the time I could never ever leave him unsupervised with small children as he was a danger to them. And went up to someone in the street and hit them for dissing him in the school playground ( a younger boy than him) Now his aunty asks him to babysit his little cousins (I wouldn't let him but she still asked, that bowls me over) I think feeling responsible for those younger than you, is a developmental stage that comes much much later to some of our children, whereas to adults it is a taboo, to hurt a young child, we are hardwired to feel terrified at the thought of an older child/teen attacking a baby or toddler.
Maybe a little off the wall here but could he manage a dog? Obviously you would do the main caring, but if he had an outlet for physical affection and a reason to walk each day as well as a distraction from other park users, he might be happier? It strikes me he is unhappy generally.
Thank you for the support and suggestions. A quick update - he did it again yesterday whilst out at the shops. This time no obvious trigger as he wanted to go out and we were in a shop trying on fun hats and wigs. Suddenly he hit then pushed a little boy who again was about 5 years old into a display. Child cut there lip.
I immediately took him out of shop and he laid on the floor shouting "he hit me" (which the child did not) then "call the police, handcuffs, prisoner - now". I got him back to the car and then yelled at him (I had lost my temper by this time). This is really unusual so he was really shocked and then he hit me. I drive him home - took away his IPad and his policeman/army dressing up (his latest phase).
He does understand he has done wrong as after a few hours he came and said "sorry baby" and "sorry mum" but am not at all certain he has "got it" to the extent that it will stop him doing it again. As time passes I think I need to find a way to help him channel or deal with his upset/anger. Any ideas?
Thank you all for your support!
You know the idea of a support dog is one that occurred to me as well. Not sure where to access one for a YP with learning disability that is not autism or sight related. Any ideas?
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