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Is he stressed?

(12 Posts)
KarenThirl Thu 21-Apr-05 12:29:22

Some of you will know that ds J has a provisional dx of AS and the assessment is ongoing, but I still have some concerns about this. At the moment I'm managing the situation as though he does have AS, as I have been advised by the psychiatrist who is coordinating the assessment, but I'd like to run something past those of you with experience in these matters.

Throughout the course of my reading about AS and ASD, I keep coming across references to how hard it is for our children to 'conform' and behave normally, and the resultant stress they are under whenever they manage it. Then I get instances when J is behaving wonderfully well with (seemingly) little or no effort at all. This morning, eg, he was up before I usually wake him with a beamy smile, and before I got to him he had got out his school uniform, been to the toilet AND washed his hands, had set his timer to two minutes and was in the process of brushing his teeth, then while I was there he washed his face - all spontaneous and without apparent effort. He then came downstairs with me and helped to make breakfast, which he ate in record time then went back upstairs to get dressed (three and a half minutes - he timed himself).

Now, I'm of the opinion that occasionally all the pieces fit right and J is able to behave like this, and the times when he can't are because circumstances aren't right and appropriate behaviour is beyond his control. This morning seemed to have been one of the 'good' times, but have I got that wrong? Am I misunderstanding something? Was he just trying exceptionally hard to please me and therefore stressing himself by doing so?

I just want to know if anyone else with AS/ASD kids has similar experience and how they feel about it. Any thoughts?

beccaboo Thu 21-Apr-05 12:36:52

Hi Karen. I may be off the mark here as don't know huge amount about AS, but I heard an interesting thing in my local support group the other day. It was pointed out that one of the major behavioural problems for high-functioning ASD kids is that they don't feel/understand social pressure - so they don't feel the obligation to conform in the way that other children do. This can be why they sometimes don't listen in class/join in/strive to please. They don't understand that they're supposed to.

Maybe that's where the stress would come in? The effort to fit in with a classroom of kids when you don't understand the rules?

KarenThirl Thu 21-Apr-05 17:10:21

That's interesting, isn't it? Although it's yet another AS/ASD characteristic that I'm not sure applies to J. This morning he was obviously 'striving to please' and utterly proud of himself that he'd made me happy, so I'm still baffled.

I should perhaps add that although I've been advised to go the AS route I'm still primarily taking my lead from J and how he presents, as I don't want to force him into a box where he doesn't belong. It's not that I have problems accepting a certain diagnosis, I just want to be sure it's the diagnosis that applies to my son's symptoms and/or personality. If he does have AS then fine, that's what he has, but if not ... I just want to be sure his diagnosis is accurate. So with that in mind I don't want to 'assume' he is stressed when he's behaving appropriately just because the books tell me he is, when what I see in front of me is not a stressed child by any stretch of the imagination. I just wondered if other AS parents were on the same track as me, or if, by not 'pigeonholing' him, I'm somehow avoiding some underlying trait. Just curious.

dinosaur Thu 21-Apr-05 17:16:37

Karen, I did the NAS's Help! course for parents of ASD children a while ago. The tutor did comment on the fact that ASD children (and adults) will often have good days or good spells when you start to doubt whether their diagnosis stacks up at all - followed by a bad day/spell which leaves you under no doubt!

Agree with beccaboo - I'm sure my DS1 used to find this very stressful and he was DESPERATE to figure out what the rules were. I remember we once had a book from the library about starting at nursery and he pored over it and pored over it with me just as if he thought that it held the magic key to something...

KarenThirl Thu 21-Apr-05 17:51:04

Yes, I agree with the good day/bad day pattern, that very much seems to be the case for J. So do you think that what happened today would have been stressful for him, or part of his 'good day' phase when everything fell into place and he was able to cope? Is this what's meant when it's said that AS children can learn how to fit in, that they eventually learn that this is acceptable behaviour and teach themselves to do it?

Dinosaur, did your ds work out some of the rules from the book you mentioned, and did his behaviour change as a result?

Peachyclair Thu 21-Apr-05 18:42:47

I know ds1 hasnt got dx quite yet (18 hours to appointment..), but I know Sam does this, and it's when he is able to behave that he seems LEAST stressed I think. He dosnt seem to like the other side of it at all.

KarenThirl Fri 22-Apr-05 07:50:58

Peachy, that's exactly how I feel. J seems to be at his happiest when he's behaving in this way and more stressed when he's acting inappropriately. I do believe that he knows the latter to be 'wrong' but also knows that he can't help it at the time, and becomes more stressed at these times because he's out of control. Thanks for that.

Good luck for the appointment today. Who's it with?

jmb1964 Fri 22-Apr-05 10:29:27

I really don't think it's right to say that whenever an AS child is behaving well they must be stressed. In our experience ds1(7, Dx AS 2yrs ago) loves getting things right, and can be absolutely delightful when he's interacting 1:1 with an adult. As I've said on here before, he varies hugely from day to day and we've almost given up trying to work out why.
When he is stressed, like in a large noisy crowd in a queue, he sometimes tries REALLY hard to keep things together, and after that he goes all pale and exhausted, almost as bad as if he's had a full-on meltdown. It's at times like that you realise what a struggle some things are for him.
Don't let worrying about your ds1's stress levels get in the way of appreciating him when he's being adorable - you know him better than anyone else does

baka Fri 22-Apr-05 10:35:02

A lot of adults with AS talk about the need to run an 'emulator'. If that is running ok then they're not stressed, but if that's a struggle to run then iit can all go kaput after a while. Maybe a google search on emulator and AS will throw up more - from the horses' mouths so to speak.

Agree with jmb though- lots of children on the spectrum love getting stuff right and following the rules. I suspect its when the sensory stuff prevents them following the rules, or when they've miunderstood the rules, or when other aren';t following the rules (as they see them) that the stress kicks in and the meltdowns occur.

dinosaur Fri 22-Apr-05 10:57:54

Hi Karen,

Actually the book-reading bit was right back when DS1 was still at his first nursery (which was really unsuitable for him, we just didn't realise at first) and having a really bad time. I think the book was some comfort to him, but not a lot of direct help.

Agree that when our boys are "getting it right" this is probably the least stressful bit for them - the stress is when they are trying to get it right but for whatever reason they just can't. My DS1 used to get very upset if other children broke the rules, for example. I think he found that very stressful.

KarenThirl Fri 22-Apr-05 16:49:13

Thanks chicks. It's really helpful to know I'm not the only one who thinks this way, and that any signs of stress would be more obvious. Ta.x

maryz Fri 22-Apr-05 21:34:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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