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ASD and anger/anxiety your thoughts please...(30 Posts)
So, we have just been to the cinema to see 'Wreck It Ralph'.
dd2 (almost 8 ? ASD) has been pleading to go and see it for over a week. We don't go to the cinema very much (perhaps 3 times a year) and dd2 has been generally OK at the cinema with noise levels although I am prepared to believe dd2 is quite adept at hiding the things she finds difficult. This despite the fact that she shows little ability to value the thoughts and motivations of others. But I digress.....
She skipped in to the cinema. Shortly before we went in she must have been really relaxed as she said, 'we are a really happy family aren't we mummy'. We went in, donned our 3D glasses and that was that. Initially I saw dd2 with her fingers in her ears. When she saw me notice, she took her fingers out of her ears.
At the end of the film (still in fairly empty cinema, lights still down low) I asked dd2 if she enjoyed it.... she immediately got very cross and said 'you must not say that because it is embarrassing and rude, don't talk to me like that'. Normally I brush such things aside and move on but as we have had a lovely day I said, "Mummy just wants to know if you enjoyed it" (school girl error, I know!) to which she became enraged and cross, and ultimately dissolved into a raging tantrum. By the time we got out in to the lobby she was crying and screaming (although thankfully not kicking out). She cried and screamed and sobbed all the way home in the car (upsetting dd1 who is quite sensitive and gets genuinely upset/frustrated at dd2's ability to wreck a perfectly decent afternoon).
Been thinking of this in the context of Ed Psych's comments about dd2's anxiety coming out in ways like becoming cross about tiny noises around her.
Could this outburst be to do with her being overstimulated? dd2 said the noise was ok but then again she absolutely finds it impossible to talk about how she feels. The most she can articulate about feelings is either being happy/upset/cross or someone else was out of order. If I try to probe her feelings she always say 'I don't want to talk about it mummy'.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this theory? Sometimes dd2's reactions seem so unbelievably surprising/out of proportion but I'm wondering they can be understood in the context of sensory overload that cannot be articulated. Am I talking out of my behind? Can anyone throw me a line or put me straight?
Ds is 9, has AS, and has similar reactions to the seemingly teensiest things. I think it is a combination of sensory stuff and inability to articulate emotions/feelings, coupled with a big dose of catastrophising and his general propensity to exhibit any emotion that is not fantastical happiness as anger. This is alongside what I suspect is the theory of mind difficulties, and that, whilst he can't 'read' anyone else, he expects everyone else to know exactly what he feels and why. Add all that to very high expectations and meltdown is kind of inevitable
That doesn't help you in the slightest, but I do understand, I think
I also think that discussing what you like and how you feel can be very difficult. DS hates anything remotely 'emotional' and can get very angry about it. Perhaps she was lost in her fabulous, private wreck it Ralph world which felt very personal and secret and didn't want to discuss it with anyone?
That maybe total crap but I know DS is a bit like that.
No that does help. I am getting a bit of clarity here...
Her reaction was a surprise because she had been looking forward to the film for ages. But she has these reactions when she's been holding it together and then needs to vent..... after play dates, when we've had guests over, after school (OK a lot!). And yes inappropriately dd2 does absolutely find being asked how she feels an affront, generally. So I quite possibly did burst her bubble, and in the worst possible way.
I think I maybe lulled myself into thinking today was going to be great and we could all behave like civilized, normal people! When dd2's sister gets upset I agonize about things more. I guess it's complicated emotionally.
Probably what I need most of all is a diagnosis. Because there are so many aspects to the way dd2 behaves. Praps then I can just move on and think/deal with it without this level of agonizing/guilt/navel gazing!
Overstimulation is definitely a possiblity.
But she also needs time to process. There will undoubtedly be an element of needing to be in control in her reaction.
DS1 has real difficulty telling you whether he enjoyed something. He will tell about its qualities, good or bad, but asking if he enjoyed something is far too emotionally loaded for him.
We bought Despicable Me really cheap on DVD, recently and watched it with him. We've learnt not to directly ask him if he enjoyed something. But we can comment on something like the way the nasty man changed when he had to look after the children and he will comment qualitatively on that. We have to keep the discussion free of emotionally loaded comment, though.
from my own experience with DD (5yrs) ASD, i would call it like this
she knows how people expect her to 'behave' - she has her own expectations too.
going to the cinema made everyone happy, incl her. she had a picture in her mind of a happy family - she even told you that's what she could 'see'
theory of mind then tells her the whole experience is good, everyone is happy. happy = good
then the noise starts, they turn down the lights, everyone has to sit quietly, there will be smells she can't 'see', people sitting really close, a wobbly cinema chair, 'not allowed' to lie on the floor, there is a chair in front of her, is there anyone in it? all these things will be racing round her mind as she tries to make sense of them - the happiness is 'broken' as they weren't in the original picture
DD might realise that the only thing that 'broke' the happiness was her. at 7+, she's probably very self-aware (DDs self awareness is showing now) and is realising she's 'different'. You saw her covering her ears, you saw her not being 'happy'.
so when you ask her if she's had a good/bad experience, she could suspect that you are asking because you also know she's not having the same experience as you - you are inadvertently compounding the realisation she is not the same as you.
This is not your fault though, you didn't do this to her, it's how her brain is trying to make sense of how she interacts with the rest of the world.
I would press on, and quickly, with seeking her DX. Then you can work on sharing with her, and her with you, why we process information on a different level.
Hothead so do I!!
DH does that to me all the time, if i've eaten my dinner he says 'oh, you enjoyed that then' if I've made a cake he says 'Oh, you like your baking then'...it grates my nips to the ribs
I call it him stating the glaringly-fucking-obvious, and thought it was more about him than me
I'll try to remember that next time he does it (probably when he gets up)
I'm not so bad at chit-chat, it's when it bloody obvious and he asks me about it...grrrrr
He does have half conversations in his head and then brings me into his conversation as if i know what he's on about...
and they reckon genetics play a part in autism...
Dimensions organise autism friendly cinema screenings, may help reduce sensory issues.
DameMargotFountain I love this forum. I always read and really think through everybody's posts. I am not a terribly emotional sort. But your post really struck a cord. It rings so true. It made me cry. Thank you.
Because my dd2 is unable to talk at all about what's happening with her feelings, it is easy to assume that she's not self aware. But she is. And I've started noticing she does have a keen sense of smell and always takes her socks off indoors even if we are not staying in for long. She hates socks. She used to freak out with public hand dryers. There are subtle sensory issues.
We are not anticipating formal MDT assessment before 2014. we are going to Paeds for a review in two weeks. I want our Paed to make a presumptive diagnosis. If she won't do this then we will proceed with private diagnostic assessment.
Thanks all and especially DameMargot
Damemargot, I agree with Handywoman. Your post was spot on and has made me rethink the way I react to DS1s perceived misbehaviour in the movies. He has a touching routine that goes crazy when his anxiety is heightened. The way you described things has finally helped me to understand what is going on in his world. Thank you.
Oh yes. I do ask my DS if he enjoyed something but I can never expect a sensible answer! (Now he's a teenager he's almost got the hang of grunting "fine" to get me off his back ) Its not exactly a case of being over-stimulated not in the sense that he should have less stimulation. Just that for a while afterwards, hes too exhausted by the experience to respond reasonably. In fact he usually gets very negative about exciting / enjoyable events immediately afterwards, will often harp on about something trivial that was wrong with it even though he had a great time really. A day or so later hell be remembering all the good stuff.
klein that is exactly what Dd3 is like, we have learned not to ask her if she has had fun doing something like a party or trip out as she invariably melts down or just grunts.
I used to ask her if she would like to go again sometime as a way to gauge her level of enjoyment but then I realised that she was quite often so exhausted by the whole thing that she couldnt even think about repeating it.
These days I worry less about her reactions after an event and just look at how long she tolerated it and whether she appeared to be having fun at the time.
She needs serious amounts of downtime which suits me fine
Keep taking your Dd to the pictures handy if she wants to go and maybe she will start talking about bits of the film she enjoyed in her own time.
Btw, I hate the pictures! The smell of the popcorn makes me feel sick. Luckily DP likes going so it is one of the things he does alone with Dd3, come to think of it its the only thing he does alone with her
My dd2 is like that, Kleinzeit she will come back from social occasions complaining about everything. Never gets past that stage.
Excellent thread. I identify with so much of this.... not just for DD1 either.
TBH I need the 'serious amounts of downtime' to process stuff.
Handy you could be describing my DD1 when you talk about your DD2.
I need to go away and have a think about this WRT DD1.
X posted, I will keep taking her. I think I just need a dx to help with with the enormous amounts of self doubt.
One other thought if your DD often has a bad reaction after an enjoyable event, it helps if you can train yourself not to think about the afternoon being wrecked by it. Even though it is very annoying! I do make a conscious effort to avoid treating DS having a bit of shoutie after/during a good event as spoiling it. And I did find thats a lot easier with a diagnosis. I mean you dont expect the average six year old to throw a kicking screaming tantrum at their own birthday party, and if they did you might feel theyd embarrassed themselves and wrecked the party, but with DS it was a case of well at least he had a birthday party and enjoyed nearly all of it and he got over the tantrum and everyone else had a good time too, so well done all of us! Your DD did excellent well to sit through a whole film and enjoy it. Youre all doing great and a shoutie afterwards doesnt spoil that. And sometimes you can plan for the reaction too, so with a different kid it might be possible to do something else nice after seeing a film, but with my DS we needed to go straight home.
Klein I know what you mean. I am able to completely cope with these episodes. They are pretty common. But her older sister felt so upset by it. She herself sobbed and sobbed, out of frustration and also on my behalf. She's a sensitive soul. And when it affects her sister it is hard not to feel the significant impact. Without a dx I can't fully explain things to her sister either. Although I really feel the need to.
I agree handy, Dd3's diagnosis has been a very positive thing for us. The people who say dont label children are cluless to how difficult it is.
Keep plenty of notes and dont give up on seeking a diagnosis for your Dd if you believe it will help her.
Oops pressed send to quick. For example at dd2's last b'day party (bowling!) dd2 spent most of it under the table instead of interacting. And that's fine by me. I am fine with that. When it makes her sibling upset though it troubles me.
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