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The difference between ASD behaviour and 'Normal' toddler behaviour?

(15 Posts)
Frasersmum123 Wed 24-Jun-09 22:46:07

This is probably going to be a bit jumbled because I dont really know how to say what I want to say but here goes!

How much do you let your pre-schooler get away with (for want of a better term-sorry) because of thier ASD, and how do you tell the difference between ASD behaviour and terrible two's testing?

For example. Today we had to go to the Dr's. Its not far and so I thought I would push DD in the buggy and let DS walk because he likes to walk. We didnt get passed the house before he started to scream and cry and try to stop the buggy moving. There was no way I would get him to walk sensibly so I went back in and got the double out.(DS hates ging to the Dr's so its always an ordeal so I wanted him as calm as possible)

MIL said that she would just have carried on and put up with his moaning because he was just testing me etc etc. I dont know if I believe this 100% but I know that I am guilty of giving in to DS for an easy life, with other examples being food (he often grazes and walks around with food)

How do I strike a happy medium?

lou031205 Wed 24-Jun-09 22:57:29

I suppose it depends on each individual situation. How quickly did you need to get to the doctors? What level of behaviour would it escalate to? What are the alternatives, etc.

You made a judgement call. You chose to manage your son by getting the double buggy. I don't see the problem.

Likewise, is walking around with food a big issue for you? Regardless of whether it is ASD behaviour or terrible two's, I suppose I would try and work out how much I didn't want him to do x, y & z, and how much backlash it would be worth creating to stop that behaviour.

For me, eating whilst wandering around the room isn't a big deal. Certainly not worth a meltdown for. Hitting, biting, etc., is.

Sorry if that in itself is a rambling nonsense. I am simply wondering (going through the same stages myself at the moment) if it really matters whether it is behaviour caused by my DC's condition, or terrible two's. Regardless, I think the key will be in deciding how important behaviour x,y, or z is, and then finding away of either achieving it or stopping it. Whether that is a way that takes a day to accomplish or a year.

mum2fred Wed 24-Jun-09 22:58:18

ahhh. hte fine line! so many of the things our kids do could be the behaviour of a NT chld. SO MANY. And so hard to judge what to do with a dx in your pocket.

im currently of the theory to treat them as much as possble as a kid without asd- if within reason. And in saying this, I would have still gotten out the double buggy. Life is too short and there is too much on our plates to try to push things and teach lessons at every corner. I magine (hope) that most mums would do this regardless of dx.

But maybe im weak blush 1 do so hate the mooooaaaaaaaaaning.

mum2fred Wed 24-Jun-09 23:01:09

agree with lou - it's all about picking the right time/occasion. It it becomes a recurrant 'thing' them maybe address it.

ps - my kid is a big eater-wanderer. And a know a few NT kds that do the same.

Shells Thu 25-Jun-09 00:45:23

Ah, this is SO familiar. My DS is 5 and has autistic traits (no diagnosis yet). I always take the double buggy when there's a walk of more than 5 mins - sometimes he doesn't use it, but it saves my sanity (and my back) that we've got it as a back up.

Also wanders with food and to be honest I'm more worried about what he eats (terrible diet) than where or how he eats it. That can come later.

So for me, same as lou, I don't really 'let him off the hook', I just prioritise. And I think a lot about what is going to affect our life as a family. So some things are non-negotiable (must get into car to get DS1 to school on time) and other things (don't always have a bath, wear funny clothes, watch telly too much) I am less strict with because it makes life less stressful for him and for me.

I too get the comments - 'you need to be stricter with him'. I try and ignore. Its hard though.

Frasersmum123 Thu 25-Jun-09 07:46:56

Shells - thats my main concern too - he has a terrible diet, so I would rather let him walk around than try and force him to do something which would cause him to eat even less. We do sit down and have dinner as a family, but breakfast and dinner is alot more relaxed.

Thanks for your opinions ladies, its been really useful to hear

HecatesTwopenceworth Thu 25-Jun-09 07:58:54

If you're talking about 'bad' behaviours - tantruming, biting, kicking, hitting, throwing stuff - Nothing. I don't now nor have I ever let them get away with any 'bad' behaviours because of their autism. I understand how they think and behave and why, but get away with it? pah! "Autism is not an excuse!" is what I find myself chanting many many times a day.

It may be possible that ds2 gets a slightly easier ride because, erm, blush I appear to have PLB syndrome grin but that's got sod all to do with his autism!

If you're talking about the shrieking, stimming or other obsessive stuff <sigh> then I don't do anything, cos it doesn't matter and I don't care. Other than to try to explain to them that some things are a bit weird grin

Oh, sometimes when the noise gets very bad I do plead "for the love of god will you please be quiet" grin

mysonben Thu 25-Jun-09 23:19:32

I give in and never punish any behaviour that is a sensory issue like ds creating merry hell before sitting in the bath (always too hot wink) , the same i know he doesn't like chewing much and hates crunchy veggies textures so i try balance his meald on a weekly plan instead of a daily intake of 'good' foods. I don't allow grazing unless it's something nutritious like raisins or grapes,... i know it can be hard with the food side of things.
For other bad behaviours i repeat and repeat ,... in the simplest way i can find that it is n't acceptable or a simple no can do.(can be hard as his understanding is limited)
Generally if ds gives me the defiant look and screaming i dig my heels in more than if he acts really anxious/upset where i give in.
Bad behaviours like throwing things (he does that a lot for no apparent reason) or hitting and pushing are stopped on the spot. He has the ability to learn that certain behaviours are no-no even if it will take a longer to teach him. ASD must not be viewed as an excuse for all bad behaviours.

mysonben Thu 25-Jun-09 23:20:14

I give in and never punish any behaviour that is a sensory issue like ds creating merry hell before sitting in the bath (always too hot wink) , the same i know he doesn't like chewing much and hates crunchy veggies textures so i try balance his meald on a weekly plan instead of a daily intake of 'good' foods. I don't allow grazing unless it's something nutritious like raisins or grapes,... i know it can be hard with the food side of things.
For other bad behaviours i repeat and repeat ,... in the simplest way i can find that it is n't acceptable or a simple no can do.(can be hard as his understanding is limited)
Generally if ds gives me the defiant look and screaming i dig my heels in more than if he acts really anxious/upset where i give in.
Bad behaviours like throwing things (he does that a lot for no apparent reason) or hitting and pushing are stopped on the spot. He has the ability to learn that certain behaviours are no-no even if it will take a longer to teach him. ASD must not be viewed as an excuse for all bad behaviours.

fatslag Fri 26-Jun-09 15:42:14

ASD kids are still kids and if they work out "I don't like this so I'll scream and it'll stop", you've got bigger problems!

Would have done just what you did with the stroller, because that's an outside appointment that you have to get to with everybody as happy as possible. However, my son used to scream and should to watch his favourite dvd again - I learned not to give in, he learned to ask nicely.

If it's in an environment you can control, best to stand your ground from time to time.

Ellie4 Mon 29-Jun-09 07:37:30

This is an interesting one as it can be hard to decide what is them just being a toddler and what is ASD.
I am currently trying to be strict with behaviour and not make allowances as he has to learn and as fatslag said if they learn to get away with things now you'll have bigger probs later. Also we've just started ABA and he doesn't get away with anything there so I have to be make certain this is followed through.

With other things I do think I have lowered my expectations. Its just about making things work for you. I certainly would have done the same.If the buggy thing had happened with a NT child you wouldn't be thinking twice about it although you prob would have still had the same helpful comments from your MIL. Also I'm not sure how old your ds is but I have noticed that I normally get ds1 to walk as ds2 is in the buggy, but other people who haven't had a 2nd child are still routinely using the buggy for their children the same age as ds1. It took me a bit by surprise to see some of his friends in their buggies as I so rarely use it for him even if I go out without ds2.

With the food I have to admit I let him graze too. Food has been such an issue that I don't really care how he eats so long as its going in. What I have noticed though is that when we go on playdates he thinks he an do the same so I think I will have to be a bit stricter. He has got much better with eating though, so this is why I am considering it now, I wouldn't have before.

Goblinchild Mon 29-Jun-09 07:58:34

It's just learning from experience and getting better with practice, and it takes time. The good thing is that you are actually recognising that it is an issue for us and our children.
Mine is 14, no learning difficulties.
So we often have the 'Nope, no way. that's not the AS, that's you being a teenage boy' grin
And he dimples and grins back...rumbled.
Or he stops and thinks about it and grudgingly realises that I'm right.
It's been like this always, and it will always be an issue.

bubblagirl Mon 29-Jun-09 08:28:15

sound silly but i had to prepare my ds loads to walk anywhere your going to walk to doctors today ok and repeated up until we left the house

then i would ask him if he could see a tree and distract from minute we stepped out until he had forgotten about pushchair took few attempts but we got there now he'll walk happily we'll spot signs and trees cars whatever eases him when we leave

i must admit i dont let him get away with alot of behaviour as i know his understanding is at a level he knows its wrong and can see alot of nt behaviour i know sensory and naughty and will not tolerate naughty

and to be honest his behaviour is much better now i always tell him what were doing and really prepare him and praise alot good walking well done

im not strict at all but i know for his sake he needs to learn what's right and wrong and a lot of it is learnt not common knowledge so if im not telling him its wrong he'll think its ok to behave like this a lot

sensory issues i'll just ease as much as i can remove him to his room alone to calm down naughty i use choices and to be honest rarely have to do it any more he has learnt well lol

you know your child you know whats best and we all parent differently anyway do what you feel is best to his needs i knew my ds could handle it as always willing to learn so i felt he needed to be told you could see he knew it was wrong so i knew from then he needs to be taught right from wrong

he'll have his days like any child but i dont make excuses for it now he gets told its wrong he gets his choice calm down and play nice or go sit in hall on naughty spot he calms down and plays

it didnt happen over night took few weeks of me being consistent and not tolerating and he learnt i meant it and stopped odd days again he may hit or scream at me and i give my look and he says sorry mummy and i say talk to me please he'll normally run off screaming and then come back ok bit later

its hard you sound like your doing good job

for food he sits anywhere to eat but food has never been issue so were ok there

Mousegirl Mon 29-Jun-09 10:40:54

Really interesting discussion. DS (nearly 7) has Asperger's and sensory processing disorder. He's very bright, works very much to his own agenda, and his tolerance levels depend on so many different things. I guess for me there are so many strategies that work (or not!) on different occasions, that it becomes very intuitive. ASDs can vary from minute to minute on whether or not something will trigger a meltdown - best way I've heard it described is that having an ASD is a bit like trying to balance a tray covered with glasses that are almost full. At any time, anything can cause one of these glasses to overflow - there then ensues a frantic balancing act to try and regain stability. But for us to try and predict all the things that may cause a meltdown is impossible a lot of the time. Routines are good, as long as we cans tick to them!

One thing that has become harder as DS gets older is that he knows which buttons to press, and his intelligence means that he is very good at manipulating a situation to get what he wants. Prime example - he went through a terrible stage of depression, saying that he wanted to die and hitting himself - dreadful for all of us, really heart-breaking. However, he now knows that this is something that will almost always bring lots of attention, big cuddles, excuse any bad behaviour etc because we're so concerned and frightened by it. So he started saying it as soon as he was asked to do something he didn't want to do... it's a REALLY tough judgement call - but there are times when I know, as his mummy, that he's doing it for effect. Thank God, he's kind of broken the cycle now - there are times when he's genuinely very depressed, but the times when he uses it are very infrequent, because he's learnt that only the genuine article will get attention!

I guess go with your instincts - I found the less I pandered to his behaviour, the quicker it changed - BUT he will have many more triggers than an NT child. Preparation for things is a great help, as is distraction - everyone's given really useful insight .

I've really rambled - sorry! x

fatslag Mon 29-Jun-09 13:09:18

DH, who still doesn't really accept the HFA diagnosis, has always refused to treat ds1 as anything other than a normal child. Although I would love him (dh) to pull his head out of his backside, this has had huge benefits for ds1 who has never been allowed to get away with much. The only exception has been eating vegetables: ds1 will puke if forced to eat them, so he wins that battle every time! grin

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