Wondering if you can help?

(27 Posts)
user1471530109 Sun 23-Dec-18 09:54:16

Hi, I've not been over in this board before. But a lovely mnetter pm me about my dd when I mentioned her behaviour on another thread. I'm wondering if you lovely people can see anything in her behaviour?

My dd has just turned 9. Her behaviour has deteriorated massively in the last 6 months. She is violent and aggressive towards me and her little sister. The most recent bout was in the leisure centre whilst waiting for swimming lesson. I had said she could have a drink from the machine but the card machine was out of order. I tried to get some change at the counter, but was told they didn't have enough. Fair enough. She had a major meltdown. Hitting me, kicking me, swearing. She ran outside with no shoes on (it was dark and raining). She was furious people were looking. It took about 20 mins for me to calm her down. I could leave as her sister was in the pool having her lesson. Other parents from school were there. Kids I teach were there sad.

This has become our normal. I can't leave her alone with her sister. She tried to strangle her. Her dad says she isn't doing it at his (she is. I've witnessed it and she also says she is).

She lies. About everything. School have noted this too. There are often no reasons for the lies. Just complete made up bollocks.

School says she isn't violent or bad behaved at school so can't refer to cahms etc.

I've been to GP who said it's hormones hmm. To be fair, she is definitely showing signs of puberty. She is also very tall for her age. I struggle to restrain her.

I think she is aware her behaviour is bad. She has mentioned she knows santa won't be bringing her anything. We have an elf (which a friend gave us when she was 2 who goes back and tells santa) and it had helped her stop her 'tantrums'. But this has worn off this week.

I've had the neighbour round during one session of her screaming, hitting and swearing at me. Tbh, I feel useless. I'm a teacher and have students who live down my road. I have no problems with class management at school. Nothing I try works with my dd. If I shout which I inevitably do it just escalates the situation. But trying to be calm has now lost its effect.

She also is very shy. Sociable anxiety. She will often 'warm up'. But she displays signs of selective mutism. She says it's like her mouth is sewn up. This has got slightly better over the last few months and people have noticed she has got better.

She does lots of extracurricular activities. Doesn't have issues sociably there (once she has got used to people). But seems to suffer with making friends at school. But I'm wondering if this is partly her own perception. We have had lots of years over this. Refusing to go to school (head teacher literally picked her up and took her in) but I genuinely think was being bullied. Not the case now and she agrees with this.

Sorry for the long post. I'm sure I've probably missed stuff. My heart breaks for her. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm a single mum and work full time. I feel like I'm failing. (To add, I think the split if her dad and I has effected her. He had an affair and moved in with the OW. Still with her 5 yes later. DD not a fan. But I think she says that to please me).

Thanks for reading flowers

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user1471530109 Sun 23-Dec-18 09:57:35

A few typos. But hopefully you can follow. blush

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Catslater29 Sun 23-Dec-18 23:33:49

I’m sorry I don’t have any advice but I just wanted to say I hope you get some answers soon. It must be really difficult to deal with xx

Viewoffriday Mon 24-Dec-18 00:34:35

You have described a lot of what autism can look like in girls. Girls can mask effectively at school, but explode at other times when the pressure finally becomes unbearable.

I've got loads more to say but I've got to go now sadly. Hopefully come back tomorrow.

You're not a bad mum though and she's not a bad kid. Just sometimes she had more going on than she can cope with.

xxlostxx Mon 24-Dec-18 08:22:56

I agree, it does sound a lot like how autism can present in girls. My dd (also 9) sounds very similar.
School have seen no problems as she very effectively masks. I got a referral earlier this year to camhs from gp. You don't need school to do this.

user1471530109 Mon 24-Dec-18 08:54:27

Thank you all. I've been reading lots about autism over the past few hours.

She doesn't show any obsessive behaviour. She hasn't got a 'thing'. Is this something that is quite important? I've often thought my sister is on the spectrum. She is very obsessive, shows v little empathy and v self obsessed.

Actually, my dd has v little empathy. sad

I agree from what I've been reading, that she does show signs. But from my experience of working with children on the spectrum over the last 15 years, it doesn't quite feel right. There have been no developmental issues, and her problems with extreme shyness have only really started a couple of years ago. I appreciate that I may be completely in denial!

Tbh, I'd love an answer that isn't just extremely naughty and bad parenting!

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Marshmallow09er Mon 24-Dec-18 09:49:32

It's not uncommon, particularly for girls, for them to 'mask' and 'blend in' until the strain becomes too much and their anxiety so high that the mask slips and the signs are suddenly more obvious.

9 (my DS is 10) is when I think socially too the difference becomes more obvious and it's harder to 'fit in'.

I would ask for a referral to a development paediatrician / CAHMS from your GP.

The book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene is excellent and I would definitely recommend you read it.

My DS is autistic but doesn't have a typical obsessional 'thing' - his interests are very usual for a 10 year old; but also very narrow and rigid if you look more closely.
He's very sociable too.
His profile is very much 'PDA' (there is debate whether this exists as a subtype of autism. My DS's diagnosis is 'autistic' which I think it right, but PDA is useful as a shorthand for how he presents because he absolutely ticks every box in the description of PDA style autism).

I would read the parenting suggestions for a PDA child because I think they will be useful for you.

Also, try and reframe her behaviour under the guise of anxiety. So the swimming pool example would have been a huge trigger for anxiety for my DS - a lot of waiting, a hot crowded environment, the focus being on his sister and not him (and the possibility of praise for his sister which he struggles with massively).

It's all about anticipating what he's going to find hard and trying to minimise the impact wherever possible.

Not saying it's easy, especially when there is a younger sibling in the mix. My DD has had to learn all about autism, and why DS behaves as he does sometimes. And sometimes that means she can't do they things she'd like to.

A lot of the stereotypes of ASD are just that, stereotypes.

user1471530109 Mon 24-Dec-18 11:02:42

Marshmallow thank you wine.

We are in full blown tantrum. She has just threatened to get a knife if I call her dad. Oh and singing "my mum is a bloody bitch" to "we wish you a merry Xmas".

Interestingly, she's suddenly stopped screaming hysterically to come down smiling to say she has found her brownie badge book....

I'm exhausted. I don't have her dad's support at all. He thinks she is just extremely naughty and I'm a crap parent (he is brilliant apparently. Walking out the day before she started school for the first time is fab as is never attending a parents evening or assembly).

Sorry! I'm knackered. She is now singing happily hmm

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user1471530109 Mon 24-Dec-18 11:03:24

I'm going to find the book on Amazon. Thank you and I hope you have a lovely Christmas.

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xxlostxx Mon 24-Dec-18 11:21:08

It's so hard isn't it. My dd didn't have any development delays and has always been sociable but looking back it's clear now that she has always had to be 'in charge' in her friendships, always had to have just one friend.
She didn't go through early childhood with any particular interests that stood out from any other girls her own age. She is obsessed this last year with slime, blue tak, play doe etc. But slime is popular at the moment so this too doesn't make her stand out much.

I too have had neighbours round, even the police in the summer after a prolonged, violent meltdown. And teachers coming to get her to school when I went through a few hellish months trying to get her there each day. It's just mortifying and most people just don't understand.

I'm not sure if my dd will eventually be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder rather than asd. But if that's the case she's had it since babyhood! Have had/still got ongoing food issues, very rigid limited diet, was a nightmare to wean. And sleep issues. Usually awake till up to midnight despite years of trying different routines etc. Plus the total lack of empathy, though she can 'pretend' if need be in others company. I just can't wait for the whole assessment process to be over as I find myself questioning myself and wondering if it's me!

xxlostxx Mon 24-Dec-18 11:31:01

Oh no, I feel your pain 😩 dd went through a phase earlier in the year of threatening to get knives to kill me, kill herself when she was in full flow. I have to keep them locked away now. And once the meltdown had passed it was like it'd never happened.

I do think hormones must play a part definitely.

I too have no support from her arsehole father, but to be honest that's a blessing! He has been absent from her life (and our son's ) since she was 6 months and he really really would not cope for a minute with her.

Marshmallow09er Mon 24-Dec-18 12:04:29

It might be she's even masking with her dad to a certain extent, and then saving it all up for you, when she feels most comfortable.

The added overwhelmingly excitement / anxiety of Christmas doesn't help at this time of year.

It sounds like you are doing a brilliant job - don't let any words from anyone undermine you.

It can be very exhausting and I have my DH here too. DS very Jekyll and Hyde - one minute threatening to run away / hurt himself or us, the next it's as if nothing happened.

Hope you have a good Christmas too.

Throgglesprocket Mon 24-Dec-18 13:47:38

I don't know if it's possible in your area or not, but we self-referred to CAMHS for our DD, although not for the same issues as you, but I'm so glad we did. They've been absolutely brilliant with us, so if this is possible for you, then do it. It was a long wait from the initial contact - probably getting on for 4 months, but definitely worth the wait in my opinion.

user1471530109 Mon 24-Dec-18 21:15:34

You've all been so helpful. I almost feel relief listening to you all.

I've just been at my parents. My DM wasn't surprised at all when I told her. I didn't realise my dsis works for cahms (we are far from close) and she said that she thinks she fits asd. I'm not 100% convinced but I'm going to see if I can pursue this in the new year before we go back to school. I also found out my female cousin has an asd diagnosis and my dniece is showing clear signs too (exact same age as dd).

I can't get her to go to bed at the moment. She is anxious about the whole Santa thing and it seems much worse this year. I've suggested leaving the stockings downstairs or even outside but that's not acceptable apparently. Going to be a loooong evening. Merry Christmas wine

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Ellie56 Thu 27-Dec-18 22:08:28

She doesn't show any obsessive behaviour. She hasn't got a 'thing'. Is this something that is quite important?

Just as all children are different, all children with autism are different. Our son had one obsession after another as a child, but these have become less intense as he has grown up.

user1471530109 Fri 28-Dec-18 11:28:11

Thank you!
She cried with relief Christmas morning as she was so sure Santa wouldn't have left her anything sad.

And as she spent the whole day glued to the crutches she had been on about for months and months, I realised that 'yes,she does have a thing'!

The DC have been at the dad's since boxing day but they should be home this evening. I'm wondering how she's got on over the past couple of days. Her dad won't say if there has been any issues.

Will the GP refer me on my say so? Or will I need proof? Or backing from her school? And do I ask for a referral to camhs or somewhere else? Thanks brew

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SweetsCakesBiscuits Fri 28-Dec-18 19:13:18

OP - please have a look at this link below as it clearly explains how people with autism can present in very different ways from each other — and how you can have autism despite not having all the typical traits that people associate with it.

It must be very difficult for you when you are a teacher in the area and the behaviour issues are happening in public. I know I find it difficult when my son gets upset in public but you have that additional issue of your students and their parents seeing the difficulty you have controlling your own child.

user1471530109 Fri 28-Dec-18 22:51:57

biscuits thanks. I'm struggling with living so close to my 'cohort' as it were. I have a fair students that live directly on my rd.

Anyway. We've had a good night. The mini one had a tantrum instead. But I'm not feeling overwhelmed tonight...yet!

I suppose the good days make you question though?

Anyway. I appreciate everyone's comments. More than I think I can get across. I've felt very alone over the past 6 months in paticular. The possibility of a reason for it all has given me a huge sense of release, relief and reassurance. I am definitely going to see the GP over the next week. I've realised I'm not coping horrendously well with the stress either.

Can I ask? In all honesty, does a diagnosis actually help? I mean, apart from the recognition and dare I say 'excuse' for the possible bad behaviour? I'm wondering if I should just accept and move on? Her father won't accept it even if it's in black and white. And as she is completely fine (almost and at the moment) at school, is it worth the fight? I mean, there is no 'treatment'. Just an....acceptance?

(Her younger dsis is about to start some quite tough and disruptive treatment for another completely unrelated condition. It will undoubtedly cause a lot of stress. I'm not sure how much more I can take tbh). Will it help? cake

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SweetsCakesBiscuits Sat 29-Dec-18 00:52:39

For us, it was definitely beneficial to get a diagnosis for my son. My son was having issues in school and an occupational therapist was able to advise the school on how to handle him and a couple of simple things made a significant difference. Initially, when he started in the school he was out of control crying in the classroom and the principal felt mainstream was not the right option for him. The OT advised the school to give him regular breaks throughout the day to reset his stress levels to normal. Having breaks prevents the build up of stress that leads him to explode. He is 9 now and is being helped to learn to manaage his own emotions and to recognise when he is getting a bit upset and to request a break instead of losing control and disrupting the class. We had a meeting with the teacher a few weeks ago and they are very happy with how he is getting on - he is not disruptive and is doing his school work well and us happy going in everyday.

Maybe a good OT could give you advice on how to manage your daughter - I don’t think you would need a diagnosis in order to get some practical advice.

Also, I think if a child does have autism or somehing else it is important for them to know so they can understand themselves. This is important for when they are children and also when they are adults.

My son knows he has autism and gets that when he loses control it is mostly due to the fact that he lacks the skills to cope and that he needs to learn these skills. It stops him seeing himself as ‘bad’. We talk about the times he got very upset in the classroom as being the time when he didn’t know how to request breaks and not as a time when his behaviour was bad.

Sorry if I have written this in a way which is not too easy to read as it is late.

123bananas Sat 29-Dec-18 01:06:06

I recommend you watch this documentary OP about girls with autism. It is set in Limpsfield Grange School, they have some good advice on their website here including information on Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).

The information has helped me as I work with children some of whom have asd. I also have a 5 year old ds with Asd, my DH is awaiting assessment and the school think my eldest dd (9) may also be on the Asd spectrum and are thinking of referring her too.

If you can video one of her meltdowns even if it is just audio that might help with getting services involved and school on board.

Palaver1 Sun 30-Dec-18 16:16:37

Once you know you’ll breathe easier it is autism .You don’t have to wait for the asssment start by reading a few books Ten things every child with autism wishes you knew by Ellen notbohm is a good easy read .
Look out for her triggers you know the swimming is a biggie ..
Try to limit as well as talk through these triggers.
It takes quite a while to get a diagnosis.
You might have to go private on this and please use your sisters contacts and expertise.

user1471530109 Sun 30-Dec-18 16:48:24

Thank you. My Amazon basket is getting full wink

We've had a couple of major meltdowns over the past few days. It feels like whenever she is told 'no' she loses it.. but I will try looking harder for any triggers.

With the swimming, that was the first time we had that after months of doing the class. It was being told 'no' about a drink (machine out of order) that tipped her over.
I've noticed that her dance class is another 'trigger' but she refuses to give it up and says she loves it. If she is freezing almost weekly (won't speak or move) and/or having a major 'hit and shout at mum' session but apparently loves it....what do I do?

We are supposed to be going for a surprise birthday meal for my mum tonight....I'm really worried. It could honestly go either way!

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user1471530109 Sun 30-Dec-18 18:04:45

I've just watched the documentary @123bananas.

She is definitely the girl with PDA. It made me cry hearing the mum talking about her when she was dd's age. Especially how she can't leave her alone with her little sister sad.

Thank you flowers

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TheMincePiesAreMine Sun 30-Dec-18 20:41:44

We found diagnosis useful in giving us the courage of our convictions. Instead of "what if"s it's given us the confidence to stop putting it down to him being young or endlessly questioning whether we're overthinking, and actually made some changes. It does feel all a bit amateur though, we're making it up as we go along. Not much help has been forthcoming from school etc but we are a bit harder for teachers to dismiss.

For us, reducing extracurriculars and limiting iPad time has been helpful. We definitely meet him halfway more and let some stuff go. I think it's helped. You see a different child when he's not constantly at his limit.

Ellie56 Mon 31-Dec-18 16:03:05

Can I ask? In all honesty, does a diagnosis actually help?

I think it does. It is well documented that those on the autistic spectrum are at a higher risk of mental ill health than the general population. I know a girl who was not diagnosed with ASD until she was 15, and then only after having a complete nervous breakdown. She was in and out of education for years and wasn't able to go back into full time education until she was 19, and had an EHCP and specialist provision.

DS was diagnosed with ASD when he was 7. I have never ever considered that diagnosis a disadvantage; quite the opposite. I have found it has been immeasurably useful and empowering.

Before he had a diagnosis, our son had several labels . "Naughty.“ ”Awkward.“ ”Lazy.“ ”Rude". None of these labels were remotely helpful or supportive, and just gave the teacher a reason to shout at him and keep him in at playtime, another reason for our son to hate school, and 15 years later, another issue that had to be addressed through therapy.

Because of that diagnosis I read up and researched everything I could about autism, so I knew what it meant for DS and I had a greater understanding of his needs. and was able to think of strategies to help him which made our lives so much easier.

For example because I knew people with autism don't cope well with surprises and random things happening out of the blue, I would make sure he was well prepared beforehand. If we had to go swimming on Friday, I would start telling him at the beginning of the week, including what time we were going , what would happen when we got there and what time we would be coming back, so that by the time Friday came he was used to the idea and would go along quite happily.

Our son's diagnosis informed our choice of secondary school. He didn't go to the school up the road, with his brothers and all his classmates from primary school, where the SENCO showed complete ignorance of autism and didn't give a toss.He wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes there.

Instead, we chose to transport him to the school 6 miles away in the next county, where the SENCO was knowledgeable and compassionate, and staff had huge experience of ASD, where there were links with a special school for children with autism, and where there were facilities for learning in smaller groups and 1:1 in a quiet and calm environment. Because it was the right school, our son settled very quickly and was very happy there.

Over the years, the knowledge that DS has a diagnosis has empowered me to stand up for him and explain to teachers and others who didn't understand him, about autism and how it affects him. and given me the confidence to insist on reasonable adjustments being made for him, knowing that his diagnosis means he is protected from disability discrimination by The Equality Act 2010. Even if it is only simple things like asking for him to be exempt from wearing a swimming hat because of his sensory issues.

(From what I have read on here there is still a huge amount of ignorance about autism in schools and even more ignorance about the legal requirements for schools to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils.)

But crucially, that diagnosis has been the passport to the fabulous specialist college where he has been for the last two years, where expectations are high, where he has made outstanding progress in all areas, where he has acquired the confidence and the skills to do things I would never have thought possible, and where he is so happy that the debilitating anxiety he once had is now hardly noticeable.

If he hadn't had a diagnosis of autism, which is part of that college's admissions criteria, DS would still be stuck at home after the disastrous experience in mainstream FE that reduced him to a complete nervous wreck, and almost broke him.

He would still be hiding away in his bedroom learning nothing, withdrawing further and further into himself, worrying incessantly about his future, and spiralling into ever increasing anxiety and depression.

He would still be the same gentle, quirky, endearing young man without a diagnosis, but with it he has been enabled to do so much more than he would otherwise have done, which has given him and us, hope for the future.

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