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is it normal for ASD children to switch from happy at school etc to adamant they arent going again and they hate it

(16 Posts)
brandy77 Mon 22-Jun-09 21:50:13

I didnt really know what title to put too be honest. Im in "confused" land.com. 2 suggestions so far, attachment disorder and the latest ASD.

My son is 4.5 and has obvious asd symptons, high anxiety, hating parties/outings, sleep problems, aggressive outbursts lasting ages, doesnt like to be cuddled (well occasionally but only on his terms) food problems plus medical problems.

The problem i have been having, looking back for ages now, is that he can be quite happy going to dads for a saturday morning, going to my mums while i work, going to playschool...then out of the blue, he hates his dad, hates school, hates my mums house and refuses to go anywhere at all. This has all happened last week and i couldnt even get him to preschool. The one attempt i made, i sat in there with him and he hid behind me and refused to participate however much cajouling from the staff so i bought him home. He refused to go again this morning, as soon as i mention it he hits me and starts screaming. My mum is extremely supportive and understands that he doesnt not like her, he just doesnt want to leave his house so i havent been to work again today. She has been my rock since having him and knows he has emotional/behavourial problems.

So is this normal? Does anyone else have a child who switches like this. He starts school in September, he is on the school action plus register and his teacher is a SENCO and she seems very supportive of him.

I get the feeling the preschool manager, who is lovely by the way, is thinking that he is playing me BUT i know my son and this happens a lot for no apparent reason or no reason that i can fathom out anyway

Widemouthfrog Mon 22-Jun-09 22:37:58

Ds switches all the time - it depends on his overall level of anxiety. If lots of small triggers cluster together and he gets anxious, he will refuse all activities and just wants to stay home.
The trigger is the transition - if we get him through the transition he usually copes with and enjoys the activity, even though he may have refused to go.
Lots of preparation is essential, then stick to the routine. If he is told he is going to preschool then that must happen or it is just adding to the anxiety or unpredictability. Do you usually go into preschool with him - or is it just this week? Again that may be a change that can be unsettling, though I fully understand why you would do this.
Have there been any obvious triggers? has DS been ill so the normal routines changed? Have staff at preschool changed? I know with DS after illness it can take weeks of work to get him back into routine and happy to go out and about.

brandy77 Mon 22-Jun-09 23:15:23

Hi Widemouthfrog, thank you so much for replying. Good to hear your son switches as well and you are obviously well tuned into him now, this is something i have to learn.

I normally take my son into preschool and settle him and then say bye and leave. He has had a few blips, he only started last september (took till november before i could leave him a whole morning), and a month or so ago he did what hes doing now and i couldnt even get him out of the car sad

My mum picked him up without him knowing last week as i was at the docs, but he had refused to go the day before so i dont think it was that made him change.

He told me that a little boy keeps crying and the staff took him off the mum and he doesnt want that happening to him. He speaks very matter of fact and blunt so it was said in a very powerful, no nonsense voice. The day that i took him last week and stayed there hoping he would go off, the manager was sat next to me with a little girl crying and my son covered his ears and said he didnt like the screaming. I do try and fathom out whats going on, so guessed that this added to whatever had caused his refusal in the first place.

Problem is that i feel im reading his mind correctly and then i feel swayed by people saying hes playing me. the manager is lovely but she said hes clever and is thinking like an older child and bascially being manipulative i think. I know thats not right because i live with him and know how this anxiety just develops so suddenly. Its so frustrating, because i really dont know what to do. When i told him we were going in the morning he got really upset and starting hitting my leg, he had been fine prior to that.

I am going to attempt to take him in the morning, i seem to spend my nights before preschool worrying what the morning will bring.

Sorry ive waffled, but thankyou

Widemouthfrog Mon 22-Jun-09 23:25:48

In a way he is playing you but not in the way the staff are suggesting it is not manipulative it is a cry for help. He is trying to gain control of something that he cannot cope with . It sounds like you need a quiet space when he gets to preschool. Can you take him in 10 mins earlier, or 10 minutes later so that he is not in the bustle of the other children?

Good luck tomorrow - no consolation to you but I am similarly stressed about getting DS into school tomorrow as he has been ill. The HT and his TA took 30 mins to get him to the classroom this am, but he had a fab day afterwards. I do understand what it feels like sad

brandy77 Mon 22-Jun-09 23:45:48

Thankyou so much Widemouthfrog, Il probably take him in 10mins late then when all the other kids are changed shoes and gone to play. So good to speak to someone who knows how im feeling! Hope tomorow goes ok for you as well and you dont come home with a headache. Good to hear that your son settled in the end, thats a positive comment from my point of view. Thankyou.xx

brandy77 Tue 23-Jun-09 07:17:54

Hope this morning goes ok for you and your son widemouthfrog

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 23-Jun-09 07:52:58

brandy77

Think your preschool manager is wrong too. I would agree with Widemouthfrog that this is a cry for help on his part, its a part of the attachment disorder.

Re school I would apply for a Statement of special needs asap if you have not already done so. School Action plus is quite limited in its scope too.

bubblagirl Tue 23-Jun-09 08:17:18

i spent 2 weeks in once as i couldn't get ds to go anywhere pre school shopping for a walk

how is he sleeping?

do they do now and next getting him involved when my ds went through this phase i was having to go late once all the children were in and hoping all crying was over as this upset ds

this actually worked it was calm and he could go in with ease

then they get now and next and get him to choose first activity and then they choose then he gets to choose a reward activity something really fun to him he loves this as he knows whats going to happen and his anxiety goes down much more they let him have his 5 mins run and dont pressure him to sit in with other children only mainly for story at the end

alot of my ds is sleep related his anxieties and sensitivities make him hardly cope with anything
since all the changes have been made he'll happily go in straight to his now and next and is so much more relaxed with his day

colds and tiredness really set him back but am happy to say he does go back to being able to cope again but takes time

bubblagirl Tue 23-Jun-09 08:19:30

i also made a point of mummy will go shopping then i come pick you up and say this alot so he understands yes i'll leave but i'll come back then i get him to say it so i'll say where am i going he'll say shopping then i say where am i going next he says coming back

lots of preparation needed but actually don't have to now as he'll say it you go shopping then come back and i just say yes now and his happy with that i say it day before and most of morning when getting ready on bad days so he knows

Widemouthfrog Tue 23-Jun-09 09:08:03

This morning was touch and go but better. We had lots of tears before school - I got DS ready very early and left him quietly in his room with his sensory lighting. By the time it was time to go to school he was calm and walked in beautifully.

I agree with other posters about the now and next - we use this too.

Atilla is giving good advice about applying for a statement. We are able to deal with the issues at school because DS has a statement and a very experienced 1:1 TA who can help him work through days like yesterday. My DS started school without one and he was a very frightened little boy - something I will always regret

brandy77 Tue 23-Jun-09 21:38:40

Hi bubblagirl, ive never heard of now and next, preschool cope with him well until he has these blips and then it starts with not being able to get him into the car at all to leave, to getting him down there and him clinging so i cant leave and then after a few weeks he settles again so i can leave him again. Sleeping for the last 5nights, strangely, has been excellent. He hadnt really slept since the end of february when this massive anxiety attack hit, where he would flit between sleep and wakefulness to check i was awake and guarding him. I still have to sit with him till he falls asleep and generally a few times a night hes calling out, help help me, but settles quickly whereas before he would literally scream for hours. I am guessing this may come back so im enjoying the relative peace for now. Im top and tailing in a single bed with him still though!

i have actually taken loads of small pics as i read on the NAS site to show him where he is going and what else is happening for the day as he does ask every morning what he is doing for the day. ive only just got the pics sorted out so havent really started doing that daily yet.

Widemouthfrog, so pleased this morning went well for you, well after all the tears anyway, bless him. What a relief smile

I took my son to Preschool and he refused to get out of the car so i left him in the car (its a dirt car park as preschool is in a tiny country village) with the door open and nipped in to tell the manager what you had said last night about your son being the same as mine with the anxiety appearing. She was brilliant and said she had spoke to the SENCO and she said for me to stay with him and gradually leave him, so i was pleased they were understanding. Then a member of staff came running in to tell me my son was running up and down the carpark screaming and they had tried to catch him but he ran off even faster screaming! Please note that this isnt near a road, its in the middle of fields really and a park thats why i left the door open as it was hot. Apparently he was calling out for me so someone went to reassure him and he freaked and bolted.

Anyway he sat on my lap for an hour, kids were coming up with toys but he wasnt interested and got a bit touchy with them. His reception teacher for september came to visit and all the other kids were running up and cuddling her and theres my son hiding behind me clinging to my trousers. The teacher did get him to speak in the end but when cornered he freaks out and makes a run for it, she said to me that she can see he has high anxiety so i think shes realising now what he will be like in september. The preschool manager was going to talk to the teacher about me being able to stay with my son in september and wean off him like i did at preschool. I didnt think you could do this at BIG school, so was pleased.

As for a statement, i spose i look at him and think "is he bad enough to have one", i do get a bit paranoid tbh and as the class is so tiny and has 2 TAs as well as the teacher (14kids) he probably wouldnt need a statement for this school (75 kids in all), but im aware he would in secondary school. Do you need a formal diagnosis to apply for one anyway, i only have the private pysche report and could get a letter from his paed in London that he has obvious behavioural issues

Widemouthfrog Tue 23-Jun-09 22:17:30

Hi Brandy,

Sorry you have had such a difficult day. I have never stayed in preschool or school with my DS1, as I needed to have clear boundaries about when I could be there with him. That was just my child though. Instead he was always handed to the same member of staff, who could follow a familiar routine with him, backed up by pictures. I am glad the preschool is being supportive, and are actively working with you.

I still have to sleep by DS1 sometimes when his anxiety is high - he tells me that he feels scared on his own.

Our statement was awarded before diagnosis, and in fact facilitated the final diagnosis by the paed as the reports had to be collected during the statutory assessment. DS1 was in a class of 30 with 1 TA though, 400 in the whole school, so support is essential for him. He only did half days through reception, and you may wish to consider this as a full day is going to be so overwhelming.

DS2 (3) started preschool 3 weeks ago, and is being assessed for potential ADHD/AS so I am now in the process of trying to settle another DS at preschool! It is challenging to say the least - his first words every day are 'I'm not going to preschool'. It is very important that I tell him I am coming back, and this seems to help, though he has been very withdrawn and tearful so far. His keyworker is coming to our house this week to play with him at home so she can see what toys he likes and hopefully gain his trust in his 'safe' environment.

brandy77 Wed 24-Jun-09 07:40:38

Morning Widemouthfrog, thats interesting that you never stayed with your son at schools at all. It sounds like your sons ASD was more apparent perhaps and the staff were geared towards it, they sound excellent i have to say! I think the problem ive had is that my sons medical condition and all his hospital investigations have initially been blamed for his behaviour/oddities and ive always thought his mood swings and not sleeping were related to egg/milk intolerances, so in that respect hes just been treated as a clingy child.

Poor you having to go through the assessments and everything again with DS2! You will be worn out if they both have bad days/weeks together.

Now its come out that he has an ASD, he only has 3 weeks left at preschool. His keyworker(who he adored) has been tied up with new young ones since January so im guessing that probably hasnt helped, but thats something that obviously would happen if shes gota split her time with half a dozen kids.

Im going down there this morning and his reception teacher is coming to our home this afternoon so ill see what she says about September and let you know. Thanks smile

brandy77 Wed 24-Jun-09 07:40:43

Morning Widemouthfrog, thats interesting that you never stayed with your son at schools at all. It sounds like your sons ASD was more apparent perhaps and the staff were geared towards it, they sound excellent i have to say! I think the problem ive had is that my sons medical condition and all his hospital investigations have initially been blamed for his behaviour/oddities and ive always thought his mood swings and not sleeping were related to egg/milk intolerances, so in that respect hes just been treated as a clingy child.

Poor you having to go through the assessments and everything again with DS2! You will be worn out if they both have bad days/weeks together.

Now its come out that he has an ASD, he only has 3 weeks left at preschool. His keyworker(who he adored) has been tied up with new young ones since January so im guessing that probably hasnt helped, but thats something that obviously would happen if shes gota split her time with half a dozen kids.

Im going down there this morning and his reception teacher is coming to our home this afternoon so ill see what she says about September and let you know. Thanks smile

Widemouthfrog Wed 24-Jun-09 09:54:00

Actually Brandy, at preschool the staff insisted there was nothing wrong with ds1! It was just lucky that he started at a different time to the other children, so he went in on his own to one member of staff, and they always gave him his favourite toy - a Thomas train. He used to retreat the the quiet area and sleep much of the time as a method of withdrawal. Without realising why he needed it, I was already adjusting my language, using routine and lots of preparation with DS1. I thought he was just shy. His ASD was diagnosed when he started school.

When you see his new teacher, you will need to establish how they are going to introduce him into school - dedicated staff member (at least for transitions), visual supports, reduced hours to start. Will he still be under the Early years team? Are school taking external advice? Do they have experience of ASD? You have the opportunity to plan well in advance and that is a huge advantage.

I've just left DS2 at preschool in hysterics because they are going out for a walk. I told him firmly 'Walk first, then playdough. Mummy will come back later'. It breaks my heart.

brandy77 Wed 24-Jun-09 12:07:16

Hi Widemouthfrog, thanks for your reply. When my son started preschool he had a specialist support teacher visit and tell the staff that he wasnt allowed to be fixated with one toy and they had to take away the toy next time he was down there. At that point it was a little shopping till (i was staying there then) and he would play with it endlessly, i didnt see the problem as he was happy.

Im soooo sorry about this morning for you, its awful isnt it.Hope you didnt go home in tearssad I didnt even manage to get my son out of the car, so i had to bring him home and since then all is done is stress about the teacher visiting here at 1.30pm, he said hes not going to talk to her and is going to hide, bless him. Ive tried explaining that shes only coming for a cup of tea but hes not having none of it, oh well at least she will see what hes like.

Fortunately today ive had the clinical letter from my sons last outpatient apt at GOSH and it states in it "He is due to start school in September, and behaviour is going to be a major issue, as well as the control of his DI symptons...." so im going to give her a copy of the letter and ask her if i should apply for a statement now.

He will be under Early years till January next year and then switches to something else but i cant remember what.

Hope your son was ok when you collected himsmile

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