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Is paranoia an ASD thing?

(11 Posts)
craftyoldhen Sat 03-Jun-17 00:10:44

DD is nearly 10 and I've noticed she's becoming increasingly paranoid. When we go out she claims people are staring at her (they're not) and gets really upset and tearful. It generally happens in busy places, like in town or in the playground.

Yesterday we went out to an evening event in the park, it was busy so I know she will have been anxious. She was convinced everyone was staring at her and taking photos of her (she could see the flashes going off it the dark, but they were taking photos of the event).

No- one was in the least bit interested in DD UNTIL she started shrieking loudly "why is everyone staring at me?" and burying her head in my lap. Then people started to look! DH and I tried to explain that people weren't staring /taking photos of her, they were watching the event but she wouldn't accept it. She was really upset :-(

In this an ASD thing, or more a symptom of anxiety/mental health problem? Do i need to be concerned?

zzzzz Sat 03-Jun-17 11:05:01

I think it's anxiety. It can be really helpful to wear a hoodie or a hat with sides and sunglasses. My dd3 (now 10) has this on and off. She doesn't have ASD but does have anxiety (initially as a result of epilepsy meds).

FrayedHem Sat 03-Jun-17 12:51:46

DS1 (11, ASD) has a similar reaction when he is sensory overloaded & anxious. The first time really shocked me as he wouldn't normally say boo to a goose, but he actually directly challenged the people he though were laughing at him. Like zzzz's DD, DS1 copes better if he can wear a physical barrier of some sort. His preference is a zipped up jacket with hood up, though not terribly practical in the heat.

craftyoldhen Sat 03-Jun-17 20:22:25

I assumed it was due to anxiety/ sensory overload. She already had ear defenders on because it was noisy.

DH was v concerned as said she sounded like some of his service users with paranoid and intrusive thoughts (he works with mentally ill adults), especially as she couldn't be reasoned with sad

She has a lot of hoodies so I will encourage her to put her hood up if it happens again. She wears glasses so I need to look into prescription sunglasses.

mummytime Sat 03-Jun-17 22:07:13

Lots of teenagers get very self-concious (I suspect its due to the brain changes). It often results in hoody wearing or sometimes in girls the plastering on of make up (or the need to look exactly like everyone else).

Your DH needs to realise: a) teenagers/ pre-teens do have brains that function quite differently, so some behaviour that may seem "odd" in an adult is pretty "normal" for them
b) for your DD it probably felt similar to him being parachuted into say Glyndebourne wearing just his bathing trunks

For an evening event I'd probably also take a blanket (which can be hidden under). But if it is too much you do need to take her out, and give up. Did she really enjoy the event at all? Was it really worth the stress? Did she even want to go?

craftyoldhen Sat 03-Jun-17 23:06:22

I'm not even going to reply to that post mummytime You've made soooo many incorrect assumptions, I can't be bothered to correct them all.

mummytime Sun 04-Jun-17 06:59:30

Sorry that I have offended you so much.

But as a mother of a teenage daughter with ASD.
I have learnt: teenage feelings of self consciousness start earlier than you might think.
Panic is never helpful
And to realise that most situations need me to weigh up whether they are really worth being in/staying in if my DD is unhappy. Usually the answer would be no -let's just leave.

Polter Sun 04-Jun-17 08:41:40

One of the reasons why getting a correct autism diagnosis is so very important is because it's easy for autistic behaviours and responses to be interpreted as expressions of mental health problems, which can lead to all sorts of over-medicating and worse. There's an excellent analysis of this in Tony Attwood's Aspergers and Girls book. I'm not saying there can't be co-occurring mental health conditions, because obviously there can, but it is worth trying to explore things like this through an autistic lens first.

Sensory overload can very much feel like you're under the spotlight and under attack. Add in the hormonal stuff mummytime talks about and and a hefty dose of anxiety and you can see how confusing and overwhelming it can all be.

craftyoldhen Sun 04-Jun-17 10:22:56

I know polter that's why i was asking if it was related to her ASD, I had googled it first and none of the official ASD websites seemed to mention paranoia.
She's already been treated for anxiety under CAMHS. She's now been discharged, but we are still worried about her mental health and always alert to signs it may be deteriorating again.

She isn't a hormonal teen yet, she's small for her age, about 4 stone wet through, with no signs of puberty. Obviously I'm terrified of what will happen when it does kick in!

Polter Sun 04-Jun-17 10:30:05

I've just bought this book after hearing the author speak recently, it might be worth reading. I haven't read it yet but I believe it's got lots of practical ideas.

mummytime Sun 04-Jun-17 11:17:30

Okay even if no signs of puberty, the difficulties associated with ASD are similar to those of teenagers to some extent. Both groups for instance can struggle to read facial expressions. I'm not sure if any research has been done to see if prepubescent children with ASD mistake other facial expressions for anger as teenagers do.
BUT if your DD is generally finding life frightening, has had bad experiences at school (bad for her not necessarily things that would seem that bad to an outsider) then maybe that crowd was causing her PTSD type symptoms.
Children with ASD tend to perceive themselves as being bullied at lower thresholds than NT children - partly because they are both hyper sensitive (so one person laughing could sound like hundreds) and because they are struggling to understand social cues.
I actually find this video helpful
Imagine sensing the world like that, and in some assembly at school or even classroom - you make a mistake - a social mistake and people laugh at you. Then you are in another situation with enough of the same cues - it may bring the trauma back.
That is not paranoia as a mental illness, it is paranoia as a reaction to environmental triggers. And it is something that can happen to any of us.

I have told one of my DD when she was in therapy about how after I'd had a pretty minor car accident, any loud noise in the back of the car used to make my skin crawl.
It can happen to any of us. It is more likely if you have ASD because the world doesn't make sense.

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