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How to help DS2 outside school - dyspraxia? ASD?

(20 Posts)
BlueEyeshadow Wed 11-Jan-17 09:58:23

We've just had another piano lesson where DS2 fiddles around and won't sit still, and plays the piano when his teacher is talking, and wants to play what he wants to play, rather than what she wants him to play... It's such a stressful half hour every week, because she finds his behaviour rude. He doesn't have a diagnosis, and she's quite old fashioned and strict.

I don't know whether there are any tips or hints I can give him to help him through this half hour a week. (I also feel judged by her as a parent, but that's my insecurity!) I don't know whether I should try to find an alternative rather than trying to make him act in a certain approved way...

He's 7, and the lessons are at 5pm. He had a drink and a snack just before we went, and we discussed the way to behave. According to his school report, he always maintains focus and concentration at school, so I wonder if he's using up all his coping resources there. I spoke to his teacher this morning and they don't have any concerns about him at school.

He was playing on the tablet just before the lesson, which I hoped would help him unwind from the day, but perhaps it was too visually stimulating. I wonder what would work better?

Having been reading about dyspraxia, I don't know if this is the issue. He can manage the coordination of playing, using both hands, and the teacher says he has good technique when he concentrates. Although he does struggle to articulate himself sometimes, and is quite sensorily defensive and isn't very good with his cutlery...

We also have massive issues around having his hair cut where he has meltdowns over the towels being itchy, and saying that his hair hurts (!) - he has since modified this to his scalp hurting when it's cut. He point blank refuses to let them use clippers on it.

He has poor impulse control and a compulsion to finish what he's started, even if it's playing the wrong piece or at the wrong time.

I don't know whether to speak to the SEN coordinator at school, or to get him assessed for any kind of spectrum condition. DH isn't very keen on that idea.

Sorry that's long and rambly, but would be very grateful for any suggestions!

PolterGoose Wed 11-Jan-17 10:10:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

user1483945709 Wed 11-Jan-17 10:20:10

Does he want to learn to play piano? Maybe he just isn't interested?

If he is interested, then as polter says find a more understanding teacher.

If you have concerns about ASD, see GP.

BlueEyeshadow Wed 11-Jan-17 11:33:21

He loves the piano, and plays well.

The trouble is, this teacher is just so convenient! I will see if an earlier lesson time helps, although that would have other complications around DS1 getting home from school. I will look into other teachers in the area too though.

I'm wondering if having something to occupy his hands while she talks would help.

It's not just the piano though.

user1483945709 Wed 11-Jan-17 12:20:26

There are lots of things that might help, like fiddly toys or even an elastic band on wrist to fiddle with. Things like pressure excerises to help with fidgeting prior to the lesson.

However, not much you can do, if teacher can't engage him or keep him interested.

tartanterror Wed 11-Jan-17 23:08:42

A strict traditional disciplinarian style wouldn't normally be a good fit for ASD. If he enjoys piano and you want him to learn I'd find a different/more flexible teacher - maybe one at school or one who can come to you for convenience? If you don't he might decide he wants to stop playing.

The fidgeting suggests he's not enjoying something- have you asked him what the trouble is? If he struggles to tell you, try a Comic Strip Conversation where you draw what he describes including thought/speech bubbles. I've weasled some interesting info from DS that I'd never normally manage using this.

On the diagnosis, google the DSM V and ICD 10 diagnostic criteria for ASD and dyspraxia. Read up on both and then match examples of your DS' behaviour to see if things tally. When I first read the criteria I didn't really see how they matched us but as I learned more, lots of things sprang to mind. Jot down the examples and show them to your GP. Ask for a referral for assessment. You could also possibly see if your Speech & Language service have a drop in service or clinic at a children's centre. A SALT might be able to give you some advice/opinion to help decide what to do next. SALTs were the ones who made our diagnosis and maybe help convince your DH.

Schools often don't seem to notice if a child has ASD without learning difficulties. Husbands often don't notice the things that mothers do or tend to have negative thoughts about labelling.

Start a diary of the things that concern you. Keep notes of everything, often little things that seem incidental. It will either form a body of evidence to support diagnosis or will allay your concerns. Good luck

1805 Wed 11-Jan-17 23:17:29

I am a piano teacher with an ASD dd!
To be honest, I have a few children who do this. They just like the sound of the notes, and want to hear what they can create. 7 is still quite young, so I personally wouldn't worry about the piano side of things. Obviously, do follow up your other concerns.
I tend to accommodate these dc by keeping them playing a lot and sometimes joining in with them and guiding them towards what I want them to do. They grow out of it!
Maybe have a word with the teacher and explain you have concerns about his behaviour and does she/he have any ideas? I as a teacher would appreciate that. It would show me that you're trying!
Good luck!

PolterGoose Thu 12-Jan-17 07:09:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BlueEyeshadow Thu 12-Jan-17 09:55:28

Thanks all. I'm going to try fidget toys and suchlike for this half term while keeping an eye out for a teacher with a more flexible approach. I've seen one advertising locally who would come to the house, so i'll have a chat with her and see if she sounds a better fit.

Re diagnosis, keeping a diary sounds like a good idea. DH isn't convinced that it would help. (getting a dx I mean, not keeping a diary) we'll see.

PolterGoose Thu 12-Jan-17 10:10:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolterGoose Thu 12-Jan-17 10:10:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

knittingwithnettles Thu 12-Jan-17 12:41:48

Ds2 who has ASD did the piano aged 8 for about a year to Pre-Prep stage then gave up. Dd did both violin (from age 6) to grade 1, gave up, and piano raced through in one year to grade 1 then gave up, but now composes and sings for pleasure aged 14. Ds1 (who has dyspraxia) has reached grade 5 in both violin and voice and is now doing Music A level. What does this prove? Only that there are many ways for children to learn music, not all of them formal. So whether he can sit still and listen for half an hour is not the only test of his musical engagement. He might be much better in a choir for example, ds1 thrived in choir setting from aged 8.

Anecdotally, you can force a child to "learn" the piano, but eventually if it is a struggle for both of you, they will inevitably give up, just when other children are taking it up from scratch and racing to the same point where you left off after years of lessons. I wish that dd had started piano at 11, I know it was a mistake for her to start violin at 6, she seemed to be very good, but it was too young for her to start the practice routine, and a teacher is not going to tell you your child is too young unless they are very very bad at the instrument.

Ds1 on the other hand thrived on the violin, whereas he never could cope with piano. Now he has keyboard skills, learned from doing composition in GSCE and from his other musical repetoire.

Piano is one of those instruments which it is very pleasing to hear a child play almost immediately, but if you teach a child an instrument they can play in an orchestra, you give them the gift of immediate involvement in a musical community, especially if it is an instrument which is a bit under-represented.

tartanterror Thu 12-Jan-17 19:10:32

Blue - sounds familiar. We delayed getting a diagnosis as we didn't need it for us/home. But as school demands increased it's become clear we need it for there. When it became clear that the alternative labels were "naughty boy" and "bad parent" leading to punishment rather than support, we quickly realised why diagnosis would help us. It's changed nothing other than our relationship with the school and maybe for getting DH "on message" about preserving DS' self esteem

BlueEyeshadow Thu 12-Jan-17 22:54:01

Thanks Knitting (waves) - he really does enjoy the actual piano playing though, and has point-blank refused to join the choir. Not sure that he's an "orchestral" kind of boy either, but I certainly wouldn't force him to play any instrument he wasn't enjoying.

That's interesting, tartan. Will ponder.

knittingwithnettles Thu 12-Jan-17 23:11:46

Ds1 (the choral, Music A level one) refused to join a choir until he was nearly 9. He said he didn't like the fact that it was mostly girls. It took him a while to get used to it; he was quite reclusive and often got the giggles on stage through embarrassment I think. He still has difficulty joining new activities. This Ds has never had a formal piano lesson in his life yet, this evening he was playing a long composition which seems to be a mixture of George Michael and Game of Thrones...

I would definitely ditch that piano teacher. There are so many lovely ones out there, longing for your business. How about a music graduate - much younger?

TheCakes Sat 14-Jan-17 23:25:37

My son is dyspraxic and has a lot of the same issues. He's doing GCSE music now and doing really well at it.
Dyspraxia is on the autistic spectrum. DS was assessed and they said he had 'autistic traits' but didn't meet ASD diagnostic criteria, but his dyspraxia accounted for a lot of his social and communication and sensory issues.
Maybe look into dyspraxia first? It's quicker and the strategies are likely to be useful.

tartanterror Sun 15-Jan-17 12:35:41

cakes - my DS meets the ASD criteria but has dyspraxia traits. Where is a good place to start reading?

TheCakes Sun 15-Jan-17 22:07:54

I've found the Dyspraxia Foundation website to be useful. They have sheets for the different stages of school, to flag up what the issues might be. I also follow them on Facebook, which brings up some quite interesting information.
I don't know how old your DS is, but mine's 14. I've watched some YouTube videos with him by a lad with dyspraxia, which he found helpful. If I gave him reading material he'd leave it somewhere and not read it, but the videos seem more accessible to him.
I'm fairly sure they missed the mark on his ASD assessment. He has a lot of PDA traits from what I read.

Dannygirl Sun 15-Jan-17 22:25:23

A few resources on Dyspraxia I have found useful for understanding this condition (DS aged 9 is diagnosed and also referred for assessment for ASD)...Dyspraxia Foundation website as already mentioned, 'Dyspraxia - the foundations' available as an e-book and from the Foundation website, 'The out of sync child' - excellent book on sensory integration difficulties which has a huge overlap with Dyspraxia/ASD, 'Caged in Chaos' - book written by a teen with Dyspraxia, '100 ideas for supporting pupils with Dyspraxia/DCD'. Hope that helps and all the best of luck. I second PP who said husbands often don't notice/in denial....

Dannygirl Sun 15-Jan-17 22:28:53

Oh also - music. My DS theoretically finds coordination of arms and legs very difficult but very successfully plays the drums which has been a huge boost to his self esteem and actually also helped him control his limbs. It was total pot luck he chose that instrument and he seems to have some talent. I don't know if it's worth trying another instrument as well as or instead of the piano, just a thought...

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