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Got some behaviour advice for ds...not sure!!!

(21 Posts)
mysonben Wed 29-Jul-09 16:25:52

DS is 3.9, and asd (verbal dx at the moment, going through the system slowly).
Today i took him to the local clinic to see the nursery nurse who offers advice with behaviour, i told her about the asd, his difficult and stubborn behaviours and his resistance to change.
Hvae been struggling with more and more defiant or oppositional behaviour lately, ds' speech has improved in the last few months, so not all can be put down to frustration due to lack of speech! Everything is "that way!" (his way...or tantrums or tears)

DS will simply not listen (very extreme selective hearing iykwim?) , DH and I are repeating the same things daily over and over, "stop jumping on sofa, stop swinging on the kitchen gate, don't play with the lights, get down from there,..."
She told me to put down some rules and stick to them 100%, ds needs discipline to show him where he stands.

DS still drinks milk from a bottle (so does 15m old dd), and ds is still being fed by us more than half of his meals as he is so slowwww, and just simply sit there and fiddle with whatever toy or object he has next to him (he has a tantrum if we take the toy away and still doesn't eat).
She said ...boys are lazy! and he is too old to drink from a bottle and so is dd, take the bottle away and give milk in a trainer cup. Also stop feeding him he 's not a baby! if he doesn't eat, don't give him milkshake before bed, he 'll be hungry in the morning and will learn to eat food when it's dinner time. hmmwill he learn that easily?
DS is a bit on the slim/skinny side as it is. I simply haven't got the heart to put him to bed with nothing in his belly sad

I get the feeling all this advice i have been given is fine for an NT child , but not my asd ds.
I tried to explain to her that ds has routines and doesn't take to changes kindly.

What do you think should i follow the advice or not? I'm scared it will backfire in my face.
Thanks for reading this far.

TotalChaos Wed 29-Jul-09 16:41:35

my take - you need to pick your battles - so while some of what the nurse is suggesting is sensible in principle, she's not taking into account the ASD by suggesting making loads of changes all at once and assuming that the conventional approach will work. btw a few of my friends sometimes feed their NT 5 year olds to get them to eat more of their dinner! with the food/drink - it's not exactly a danger to anyone, more a slight inconvenience to you - so I would just choose one thing at at time to work on (if you want to change anything right now) in the food/drink area.

about the misbehaviour - do you think he understands what you are saying all the time? I found at that age I had to resort to a lot of "No, naughty!".

TotalChaos Wed 29-Jul-09 16:42:42

btw at 3, my DS's sleep, language and toilet training were plenty to work on, I just didn't have the energy to turn meals into a battle of wills.

mysonben Wed 29-Jul-09 17:00:18

Totalchaos, thanks for your input.
You are right, ds doesn't always understand what is said, we take it into consideration when faced with new things or new situations, we really try to keep thinks simple and clear for him, it's just that he will insist to doing these things like swinging on the gate, scribbling on the table,... all the time , and no matter how many times we say "no!" he will do it again that day or the next. It's as if what we say just doesn't sink in! or go in 1 ear and come out the other intantly. Arggg!!!
When we say "no! ds that's naughty" ,he says back "no! you naughty!" wink

i also find little energy at dinnertime to install discipline with his eating behaviours.
Like you say there are other things like language and toilet training (although he is getting there now with fewer accidents) grin

Yes one thing at a time may work better than tackling the whole lot at once , which would send him into a frenzy of tears and tantrums for sure.

coppertop Wed 29-Jul-09 17:04:07

I would be wary of anyone who groups together an entire gender like that. Boys are lazy? All of them? hmm

Tbh it sounds as though she has little or no experience of ASD:

"if he doesn't eat....he 'll be hungry in the morning and will learn to eat food when it's dinner time."

For starters there is no guarantee that he will feel hunger at all. My 9yr-old doesn't seem to notice if he hasn't eat anything. If I don't remind him about food then he forgets to eat.

And even if your ds does feel hungry it doesn't mean he will eat/drink in the way you want him to.

If dealing with ASD issues were as simple as having lots of rules and saying 'No' a lot, we probably wouldn't need the SN board.

I'd mentally file away her advice under "Well-meaning but not particularly helpful" and forget about it tbh.

mysonben Wed 29-Jul-09 17:22:23

Yes coppertop, that's the feeling i got too, it probably is ok with NT kids but not ASD ones.

She was saying i need to be firmer with ds (i am firm already...and dh is even firmer than me), and use a stern tone of voice when he misbehaves ...but ds has trouble reading sutle language and gestures cues! So where does that leave me...

mumslife Wed 29-Jul-09 17:23:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

asdx2 Wed 29-Jul-09 17:27:58

My best piece of advice that I have ever been given was "tell your child what to do and not what not to do" If you are repeating yourself and ds still does it maybe he doesn't pick up on the don't or stop.
So I would say "sitting on the sofa" rather than stop jumping on the sofa "feet on the floor" rather than don't swing on the gate or get down from there.
I think you benefit two ways children pick up on negatives in speech long after they pick up on positives and also because you are always reprimanding it makes it feel less of a drag.
As for getting rid of the bottle I resorted to taking ds on holiday and introducing a cup there and hiding the bottles for when we got back. It worked new surroundings new routines.

mysonben Wed 29-Jul-09 17:35:27

Asdx2, cheers for the advice.
Will try that telling him what to do instead of saying no approach, grin
And as we have a holiday abroad to visit relatives in october , i might do the switch to cups then.

lingle Wed 29-Jul-09 20:12:49

His language may be better but you'll know that the receptive delay and listening problems remain long after the sentences start coming. I can do all sorts of discipline things with DS2 now that I couldn't 3 months ago and this is entirely a function of his receptive language and listening skills. I strongly agree with asdx2 about using positive language having witnessed a friend effectively "train" her kids to do all the things she was yelling at them not to do (I'm not saying this is you mysonben). I aim for about 4 or 5 "DX do this"/"that's mummy's"/"floor please"s for every NO!. It sounds like inflexibility is his number one issue and this is poignant for me because it is my brother's big problem. Do you feel you have a strategy for this?

I also agree with totalchaos that you can only change one thing at a time and some things don't matter (the food stuff- I know a lovely NT child who had bottles at 3.9). In fact, I would go further - examine instead the areas where some improvement seems possible just now and rather than telling him it's all change, figure out what the prerequisites would be to improve that behaviour. (it took me a year of about 20 individual changes to get from snacks/dinner in front of the tv to sitting at the table clearing your own plate - simply informing him that things had changed wouldn't have worked. And I still have to get him to use a fork not a spoon.)

The nursery nurse sounds like she's watched too many episodes of Supernanny.

mysonben Wed 29-Jul-09 20:45:37

Lingle, thank you for your reply. (the supernanny thing made me giggle grin)
For his resistance to change, no real strategy is in place, we only give him some notice prior to the change happening, this doesn't always work as ds doesn't always understand what we are saying anyway.We try a bit of makaton too.
Honestly? i let him having his own way regarding the minor routines he has, as long as there's no danger involved, or stepping on someone else's toes. If a routine or his inflexibility poses a problem, i try to meet him half way, or i stop him in his tracks and put up with the crisis.

DS gets VERY emotional over little things, he cries real tears (not crocodiles ones!wink) and gets anxious very easily, over things like details that shouldn't matter to a boy of his age (if he was NT) , that and his new found defiance are the biggest problems.
DS always has emotional reactions that do not match the situations iykwim?
When he laughs , he laughs TOO loud for no good reason, when he's happy he gets TOO excited in relation to what's happening,...
his emotional responses are always over the top.

RaggedRobin Wed 29-Jul-09 21:16:27

my ds (3.7) still has a bottle at bedtime, but given that he has only this week started going to sleep without me lying beside him, holding him in the bed (HALLELUJAH!), we're not quite ready to take the bottle away. i'm aiming for christmas!

does your ds understand "if.. then" instructions? after using a very simple visual timetable for a while, ds got the idea that if he did something, then somethig else would follow. this could be something positive, "if you eat you dinner, then you can do something nice", or something negative; "if you throw that toy at your sister's head, i will put your bike in the cupboard". putting things in the cupboard i've found to be a very effective way of getting ds to understand immediate consequences...

... just thought i should add that i don't put ds in the cupboard, though. grin

our dcs are all so different though that what works for one might not work for the other.

smallwhitecat Wed 29-Jul-09 21:53:57

Message withdrawn

lingle Wed 29-Jul-09 22:16:00


as you keep tuning in I feel sure you'll develop a strategy for this (my parents never did and my brother, who is a nice and kind person, ended up being mocked and teased).

Can't remember if you are reading Greenspan. He has such a comprehensive approach and is very detailed about breaking down inflexibility.

What are the tools available to you? We know he has receptive languange and listening challenges - how is he on tone of voice and facial expression? I have ideas but they rely on tone of voice and face reading and as ragged says they are all so different (people suggest music therapy to me and I faint with horror)

Barmymummy Thu 30-Jul-09 08:24:52

I have had very similar problems in that DS simply will not 'get' stopping hitting, pushing etc particularly with his older sister and it seriously drives me mad.

Positive praise, ignoring (not really an option when he's hurting someone) and telling off just simply hasn't worked. However, he has recently cottoned onto bribery grin

Its working wonders! I feel awful bribing him BUT it works and stops the hitting etc when we are out for a while. Bribes have included chocolate buttons, little toy or trips to the park/beach etc. I know I get a few dissapproving looks but I don't care.

I don't really know what to say to help you as I am only 3 months down the road but I read your posts with alot of interest as I can relate to so much of it. Thanks for posting and I hope you get some answers

saintlydamemrsturnip Thu 30-Jul-09 08:36:00

"if he doesn't eat, don't give him milkshake before bed, he 'll be hungry in the morning and will learn to eat food when it's dinner time. will he learn that easily?"

No, we were told to do this. Eventually I did. DS1 went into ketosis and spent the next three days stinking of pear drops throwing up even water.

You probably need some help from an ASD specialist to start unpicking the behaviours. IN ds1's case we have to be very careful in how we respond to bad behaviour as he finds almost any response at all very reinforcing. And he is a adept at picking up even the tiniest of responses.

mysonben Thu 30-Jul-09 19:40:38

Thank you ladies for your replies and advice.

A lot of the time we get a bad behaviour because DS has a different idea of what should be happening, he really wants to control a lot of things that we do. Also he isn't the most cooperative child when it comes to baths (water always too hot), dressing or undressing, eating (he doesn'treally enjoy food other than milk, chocolate petit filou and a few soft foods), generally DS is proving difficult with daily living.
He cannot share anything that is a big problem too.
As for swinging on the gate or jumping on the sofa or the beds, same goes with open/shut doors, drives us bonkers, and the reason he doesn't listen and does it again and again regardless of what we tell him is because he really enjoys doing these things i suspect.

Lingle, DS does have trouble reading the cues from tone of voices and facial expressions, he can get "happy or very angry" expressions but that's it the rest is a grey area for him. Well he gives us that impression anyway.

mysonben Thu 30-Jul-09 19:43:32

Will get that Greenspan book. Is it the sn child one that gives tips on unflexibility?

Barmymummy, ds hasn't got the understanding for bribery to work yet... damm it wink


lingle Thu 30-Jul-09 21:23:13

I suspect the Engaging Autism one may be even better.

I remember the joy of the day DS2 discovered bribery a few months ago.... you can make such rapid progress once he knows what those sweets on the top shelf are all about.

MysonBen, what I have in my mind is to somehow get to a point where you can "play out" situations involving change with him (this is basically what Greenspan is all about). But to achieve this I suspect you will have to get to a point where there are some "ok changes" eg ones that he finds funny or tolerable. Is he into the absurd? I'm wondering if something can go wrong and be funny for him.... if so you could just make sure there was at least one scenario every day and gradually ease them into his problem areas. Even though you're just working at home, I'm thinking that this tolerance for doing things different ways is the foundation on which peer group success rests.

Discovering the word "sometimes" has helped DS2 enormously. I say "we're going to X with child A". He says "no, we go to X with child B!". I say "sometimes we go with child A, sometimes we go with child B" and you can see the relief as he things "ah!, it's ok,there is still a logical system here, it just has more variables than I'd realised".

mysonben Thu 30-Jul-09 22:12:37

Lingle, yes ds will be showing some flexibility over some changes sometimes, but it really depends on the situation and his mood of the day. Unfortunately he doesn't get the word 'sometimes' yet.
He is mostly inflexible with the route we have to take to go certain places, with where he sits and where dd has to sit at the table, with his plate and cup, with his stacking or lining cushions ritual, whether the stairs gates should be closed or opened, and finally with the way he and others play (must be his way), like making his train track always the same,... and his latest ritual nobody can sit near the spot where he plays with his cars on the sofa because as we sit it makes creases and he goes bananas over it, he gets very upset and angry.

Is the engaging autism book from greenspan ?
Is it a book giving tips and advice?

lingle Fri 31-Jul-09 09:02:44

Yes, Greenspan. I've read his other one ("Child with Special Needs") but have heard a lot about his Engaging Autism one on this board. From the sound of it it's NOT light reading!!!!! Bring your education, some sleep, and a range of highlighter pens when approaching....... but he really gets down to basic principles in a way that we can't on this board because of all the kids having such different profiles.

Are you using visuals? I'm rereading my visual aids book (moondog's recommendation) and it gives a really cogent argument about why visuals help with repetitive behaviour and managing change. Might have to give it its own thread.

Others may have other ideas...

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