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Worried about dd and not sure what to do.

(16 Posts)
PhilPhilConnors Sat 25-Jun-16 21:46:53

Dd is nearly 14.
She has anxiety, but we've generally managed at home talking her through stuff and pointing her to stuff that may help (mindfulness, grounding, things like that).
Two of her brothers have ASD, one in particular takes up a lot of our time, but we make sure dd does everything she wants to do and we also make sure that she has time alone with us (which as a teen she's not as keen on, but we have times in the car etc). We've always had a close relationship, but in the last few weeks this has changed.

She's sporty and popular, in a large friendship group, but has regular big fallouts with her friends. She tends to be very rigid and black and white about things, and cannot understand that others have feelings too.
She has been in trouble in a small way for arguing with a teacher, believing she knew best, but otherwise she is a model pupil.

Lately she is being very rude to us at home, not answering when we talk to her, rolling her eyes, and saying everything is shit at home (it's different, due to ASD, but in practical terms it doesn't impact on her except, as I said, ds2 having a bit more time spent on him. She claims she is constantly asked to take care of her younger brother, this happens maybe once a month when Ds has a particularly bad meltdown, which I don't think is too much to ask, when we ask very little else of her.
If anything, I think we have allowed her too much freedom, because in general she is always up to get ready for school, does her homework on time, has done well in school (but I think because of that she's been put under more pressure which she doesn't thrive under). This is something we are planning more control on - earning wifi time with jobs (for all DC), no internet after a certain time (we've slipped into not doing this because of the meltdowns, but it is something we know we need to address).

We can barely talk about this now because she ends up storming off or having a panic attack.
She will talk to friends, but I worry that, as they are telling her what she wants to hear, it may be feeding whatever's going on. She's gone to a friend's house tonight because she doesn't want to be at home.

From where Dh and I are standing, yes things can be tricky at home, but we manage things well, it's not the same as her friends' lives but it's a long way from shit! The fallouts with friends in all honesty sound like they're caused by her being rigid (but we cannot say that, simply try to explain what others might be feeling), but don't seem any more extreme than teenage fallouts that I can remember my sisters having at that age.

She says she cries every night about how shit things are, and has run out of some lessons recently crying. But she won't tell us why things are shit. Well, she will say she is treated differently to her brothers, but in all honesty, apart from having their ASD taken into account, we do try to be very fair. She goes out more than they do, we make sure that she has lots of opportunities to do things, so she doesn't miss out.

From our point of view, wrongly perhaps, we are getting frustrated. We love her very much, but it feels like she's determined to make out that everything's crap when we work hard to make sure it isn't.

CAMHS doesn't feel like an option as they are shit around here and we wouldn't get a referral unless she tried suicide.

How can we help her?
How can we talk to her?
Help! sad

Andro Sat 25-Jun-16 22:14:02

*She's sporty and popular, in a large friendship group, but has regular big fallouts with her friends. She tends to be very rigid and black and white about things, and cannot understand that others have feelings too.
She has been in trouble in a small way for arguing with a teacher, believing she knew best, but otherwise she is a model pupil.*

This^ made me wonder if she has some asd traits, asd can present very differently in girls so it could be worth looking at.

The other thing that stands out is that you are minimising and dismissing everything you say she has communicated to you, for example:

She claims she is constantly asked to take care of her younger brother, this happens maybe once a month when Ds has a particularly bad meltdown, which I don't think is too much to ask, when we ask very little else of her.

She is telling you that taking care of her brother when he had a bad meltdown is something she can't cope with, you're dismissing that by saying you don't think it's too much to ask.

it's different, due to ASD, but in practical terms it doesn't impact on her except, as I said, ds2 having a bit more time spent on him.

yes things can be tricky at home, but we manage things well,

You're contradicting yourself, tricky and different have an impact...how much of an impact and what kind of impact will differ from person to person.

Get past the language (using shit and crap as catch all adjectives is teen talk, not literal talk) and start looking for what she's actually saying. Your dd has anxiety and is experiencing panic attacks, something is stressing her out. She storms off when your trying to talk about this? Are you validating her feelings or, as in your post, telling her that she is wrong?

Does she like writing? She might find writing out her feelings useful as an exercise, but equally you might find it useful if you can read what's happening and think before defending yourself/your other dc.

Andro Sat 25-Jun-16 22:17:06

I'm sorry, that reads like a complete assassination and I did not intend it to. I'm sure you're doing everything you can to meet hour DC's needs.

junebirthdaygirl Sat 25-Jun-16 22:32:32

Keep on the say are you sure she hasn't got asd herself as girls are late presenting and she ticks many of the boxes. I have encountered this on many occasions in school that it only becomes an issue for girls when they hit the teens..

PhilPhilConnors Sat 25-Jun-16 22:37:47

No, don't apologise, thank you for answering!

When I said we asked her to take care of her younger brother, I meant her 5 yr old brother who is very easy, we wouldn't expect her to take care of a melting 11 yr old! Although sometimes when he is in meltdown she will decide she knows best and barges in, we then have to get her out of the way for her own protection, which she is then angry about. When he's in meltdown, one of our main priorities is keeping the other DC safe.

She definitely has ASD traits, but she wouldn't meet the criteria for diagnosis, but we aim to be an ASD friendly house to try to meet everyone's needs.

I think we feel a bit helpless tbh, we know that there's an impact, but we minimise it as much as we can. We can't change ds2, but it seems such a massive problem to her at the moment, and this is something we can't change.

You're right though, I think we are minimising and dismissing. It feels wrong to validate some of the things she says though, and I'm never sure what to say in those circumstances - eg, falling out with the teacher. IMO, even if you hate the teacher, unless they are bullying you and being dreadful (in which case I would be into school), you show respect for them. She tried to take over a lesson because the teacher got a netball rule wrong! Should I be validating that? (Genuine question, not being an arse!) That is one scenario that she still gets angry about, and I haven't a clue what to say. If I did anything like that as a teenager, my parents would have been furious, as it is with dd, I feel like we have ended up pussy footing around because she doesn't get it and it causes more and more fights.

Re. her friends, yes you're right, I'm not validating her, but (again, genuine question!) is there a way to validate her when she has caused another fight by being insensitive or not understanding that her friends also find things tough (a couple of them have anxiety related things going on too). Should I ignore those?

Writing it down is a good idea, I'll ask her to try to do that tomorrow.

PhilPhilConnors Sat 25-Jun-16 22:43:45

June, I just don't know. I have ASD, Dh is prob on the spectrum, the older boys have ASD, younger one possibly (definite traits but again, perhaps not enough for dx).

She does have plenty of the traits, and I have considered this for years, but she is so at ease with people (apart from the fallouts!), doesn't have any obsessions, no motor mannerisms.
There's a Tony Attwood document about ASD in girls, when I read it it's like reading about my childhood, but it doesn't fit dd at all, although she definitely ticks ASD boxes.

Andro Sat 25-Jun-16 23:36:25

She tried to take over a lesson because the teacher got a netball rule wrong! Should I be validating that? (Genuine question, not being an arse!) That is one scenario that she still gets angry about, and I haven't a clue what to say.

Validate the emotion not the behaviour; in the netball example you could acknowledge the frustration she feels about the teacher getting a rule wrong and how unfair it feels, but remind her that the teacher is in charge and being rude and disrespectful is not acceptable.

With her friends you can validate the upset first, then (as you have been doing) talk to her about what her friends might be feeling.

You might find the social skills for adolescents section of the national autism society helpful, it's aimed at teens but might give you a platform

www.autism.org.uk/socialskills

It's also worth remembering that asd and it's traits can present very differently in different people, so what is asd friendly for one person can heighten anxiety in another.

CodyKing Sat 25-Jun-16 23:45:59

Yes I agree - she may gave been right about the netball- but she went about it the wrong way-

Talk about how she could have handled it better. Rather than her being wrong for trying

PhilPhilConnors Sun 26-Jun-16 00:14:30

Thank you, that makes sense, I'll give that a go.
We do have a complicated household as ds1 and 2 are very similar but need a slightly different approach.
I think dd has been, not forgotten, but maybe we've thought "NT, therefore fine" and had higher expectations of her. It's time for a step back I think.

RegentsParkWolf Sun 26-Jun-16 15:18:58

Validate the emotion not the behaviour
Think that may be the best bit of advice I've ever read on MN.

misshelena Tue 28-Jun-16 19:07:18

From your post, it sounds like your daughter is being unreasonable. But since this behavior is new, she is definitely bothered about something. And you need to take her seriously -- assume that she has a reason, that she is not just being unreasonable to make your lives difficult.

I think that if she is telling you that she is treated "differently" than her brothers, you need to get to the bottom of this. She may be having trouble expressing her feelings clearly. Help her think of specific examples of what you or your husband do that make her feel like she is less important than her brothers. I know some of this has to do with her brother's issues, but then, if that's the issue, I am sure there are ways that you can make it better for her. Sometimes, just knowing that you are taking her complaints seriously goes a long way in reassuring her that you do love her as much as you love her brothers.

PhilPhilConnors Wed 06-Jul-16 22:35:17

Well, things have been ok until tonight.
In the last few days the boys have been fairly calm, she's been out with friends etc.

Tonight she came home with two boys from school and went out with them, then went to a friend's house for a bit, and has come home angry and upset saying she hates it at home and she doesn't want to live here.

I don't understand. I have no idea how to talk to her about this without being on the defensive. I feel so bloody hurt that we work so hard to keep things on an even keel, but it's not good enough (but then it's wrong that I'm making about me).

I've asked her to write it down, but I can't help but feel that deep down she's ashamed of us and wants things to be normal, and the truth is, I can work as hard as I can but things will never be normal sad

PhilPhilConnors Wed 06-Jul-16 22:36:41

She and her older brother clash, in what I would consider to be a normal sibling way, but they are both as argumentative as each other and neither will let a point go.

corythatwas Thu 07-Jul-16 09:27:06

This is where I think you need to distinguish between actual bad behaviour (calling you names, disobedience, actual unkindness) and expressing her frustrations. Clamp down on the former, help her to find civilised ways of expressing the latter.

Living with family members with SN is frustrating, particularly when you are a teen and want to fit in/for it all to be about you. We have a special SN forum on here, so that people can come online and express their frustrations- and we are adults!

I think we have to recognise that as our children grow there is one thing we cannot do for them: make a perfect home and then lay an expectation on them to be happy. "I work so hard, therefore you must be happy " doesn't get very far with teenagers. They might not feel happy. They are not obliged to. They are not even obliged never to say they are unhappy. But they are obliged to behave.

It is easier to have these discussion calmly if you, as an adult, are able to acknowledge that you haven't actually failed in your job if your child is unhappy. Nor has she necessarily failed. Sometimes children are just unhappy. But clamp down on rude behaviour.

Slingcrump Thu 07-Jul-16 09:57:21

Sorry you are going through such a tough time op.

I do have quite a fiery teenage daughter but I don't have any knowledge about ASD so could be talking through my hat here (so please feel free to ignore) but everything you say in your posts about your dd, as you know because of the panic attacks, says to me "anxiety, anxiety, anxiety".

A lot of her behaviour can be attributed to ordinary teenage strops but I also think there is quite a big "fight or flight" response going on there.

Perhaps it made her very anxious that the teacher (in her eyes) wasn't sticking to the rules?

Perhaps her hormones are making her anxious?

Perhaps her claim that she is "always" made to look after her brother, while not true in reality, might be an immature way of expressing her anxieties about her life with her brothers after you and your dh have gone?

Perhaps just the sheer fact of growing up - with the attendant pressures of being popular and being a high achiever can bring - is costing her quite a bit in terms of anxiousness.

My dd (only child) went through a similar anxious/stroppy period when she was about nine when she wasn't coping academically, she was having disputes with friends (she is a strong character but her two best friends have even stronger characters!) and she just felt anxious and out of sorts. We took her to see an educational pyschologist - who, if truth be told - was pretty crap. But the very fact that that we and the school and the therapist were focusing exclusively on her for a period of time and her problems and opinions were being listened to/highlighted etc, combined with a few months of maturing, helped things I think and she has been a lot calmer since!

(She's still very explosive when under stress - and we live abroad where the educational pressures are quite intense - but she is a lot happier in her own skin ifyswim.)

Anyway, I have no idea what the solution is here (I often have no clue how to react to my own dd fhs so am not really qualified to give advice) but I think in your shoes I would be going down the route of giving lots of one on one attention, taking her out to do things that she is interested in (ie showing her exciting opportunities and possibilities for the future) lots and lots of calming and lots and lots of reassurance and lots and lots of demonstrative love. Very VERY hard to do of course when she is causing you so much stress and you already have so much on your plate (I know this because my own dd can really get under my skin and cause huge irritation and frustration on my part) but I think teenagers have a tendency - because they are already feeling so insecure in themslves - tend to interpret even the mildest of comments or disciplining as an attack. . So I think it helps - at the same time as having clear boundaries so she feels safe - to offer loads of praise and love and reassurance.

That's the theory of course - wish I could put my own advice in to practice - good luck with it all op anyway!

Slingcrump Thu 07-Jul-16 10:03:46

And as you say, maybe she is just coming to realise what it really means to have brothers with special needs. Perhaps you have done such a great job of keeping the pressure off her, that it is only now, when she is older, that the full realisation about the situation is sinking in. All teenagers want to "be the same" as their friends. Perhaps she just needs a bit of help to see that all families are different - with different pressures and problems - no one leads a perfect life. And that - as you say - this is the reality, and you can't change that for her. I think a couple of sessions with a licensed psychologist might help her to address that.

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