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  • Looking for ideas

    *waves* I'm having a rough spot with my son and I wanted to get some ideas from other parents. My son is 6.5, has "severe" ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome and anxiety. I know there may be some controversy as to the legitimacy of ADHD but spend a day in my son's shoes and you'll quickly change your mind hehe. "Severe" isn't a diagnostic statement but his doctor said in her 20+ years of practice he has the most severe case she's seen - he has a lot of problems with impulse control (much more so than your typical six year old).

    Last week at school he punched his friend in the eye and gave her a bruise. That night he chose to write her an apology letter, I was excited to see that as I hadn't suggested it and I'm not one of those moms that makes her kids apologize. If an apology is going to come I want it to be the child's choice. So he wrote her a sweet apology letter (see, spectrum kiddos can be empathetic!).

    Fast forward two days - he bit her in the arm at recess! He's never been a biter - he has some really nasty rage-y meltdowns and while I've been head butted, kicked, punched, slapped, etc he has never bitten...not once. So this was unusual.

    In speaking with the teacher and Alexander (the teacher spoke with the girl) - there was nothing that led up to this. The two weren't in a disagreement, no argument, etc - the only commonality is that these two incidences happened during unstructured time. For mommas of children on the autism spectrum, you know how structure can be important to some of our children.

    The teacher is fantastic and is making a point to talk to my son before any unstructured time about making good choices but also getting an idea of how he feels. He is not on an IEP and is in a classroom with a few other children on the spectrum and the teacher is really in tune with him (we're blessed to have her). Friday went off without a hitch and tomorrow we have an appointment for him with his play therapist.

    So I'm looking for ideas on tools that I can give to my son to use in these situations. Based on everything I was told these were purely impulsive behaviors. At the beginning of the day in which he bit the little girl, he was in an argument with another person and kicked her (a different girl). That was an agressive act. The punching and the biting sound like pure impulse. My son really has no clue why he did those two things.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    melissa,
    where's the hugs smiley?? well, sending one to you now. that's awesome that you have such a cooperative teacher and school. i've heard plenty of stories of kids being removed from school for similar acts.

    i always hesitate to throw out advice in situations like this, b/c generally i would like to have more in-depth conversations. i don't know you or your son and it sounds like you're really thoughtful and deliberate so have probably exhausted all of my suggestions. that being said, i can only ask a few questions:

    1. was there ANYTHING similar about these two days? was it library day? PE day, special activity, etc? bad night sleep? eat the same food?

    2. was the unstructured period preceded by exciting activity or, perhaps, restrictive movement?

    3. can you write a social story for what to do during unstructured activity?

    4. can your son identify any signs that led up to him biting? i don't mean identify the "why", but maybe he started to feel queasy in the stomach, or got hot, or something tangible?

    okay, kiddos need me, but i'll think more....

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    • #3
      okay, i'm back, will try to concentrate over the background noise (kids testing their screams

      anyway, i was leading to: after external factors have been ruled out, look at the internal ones. i'd treat his impulsive behaviors just like any others, as though he's trying to satisfy a need. perhaps he needs some sensory input. maybe he could wear ankle weights on the playground (or wherever unstructured activities occur). perhaps he could do some jumping jacks first. do you see an OT? they could give you some great ideas here.

      i'd also think about the idea that maybe he's trying to connect w/his friend. could his teacher discuss w/him appro. ways to connect w/peers just before unstructured times. maybe he's craving physical contact. would the teacher be up to giving him a good hug? would he accept it from her?

      that's the best i can do w/a sleep deprived brain. let us know how it goes, melissa!

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      • #4
        Melissa,

        Your post really struck me.. thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. You sound so compassionate and you have a very pure view of your son, I loved how you wrote without judgement of him.

        I feel a bit uncomfortable offering up suggestions because I don't quite have the full picture but my first thought was possibly sensory integration or food sensitivities.

        My oldest son, as you know, has global apraxia and sensory integration with some fine and gross motor skills delays. Impulse-control for him is really hard, however, I am proud to say, he is really making big improvements in this area this year. When he would get visually overwhelmed (to many toys in a room, to many people, to much stuff) or get auditorally overwhelmed (large crowds, happy or unhappy sounds of siblings, loud music, loud TV, etc) he would become aggressive and act out. When I would ask him how he was feeling, he would do his best to communicate to me and I was able to understand that his brain didn't feel good.

        Oopps, kids need me, need to run, will do my best to post more soon!

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        • #5
          Thank you both - he was in OT for about 9 months, we had to stop because honestly money ran out. $95/session was killing us. We still implement a lot of the OT's suggestions at home so while he's not *in* OT, he's on a sensory diet.

          Both days were PE days. The first incident, the punching, happened in PE. The second incident happened after PE. Both were also in the afternoon.

          Social story - fantastic idea, he does well with social stories, I hadn't thought about doing one for this

          Signs - That's what I'm trying to work with him on remembering. To see if there is any sort of internal trigger.

          He's sensory defensive - weighted items haven't worked with him in the past (blanket, lap pad) but something like ankle weights might work, I think he'd be receptive too them as well. He has very poor self-regulation and so we get him to school the second the gates open up so he has a full 25 minutes of "heavy work" (aka play) before the bell rings. I'll talk to him about getting some quick heavy work in prior to hitting the playground for recess/PE. Great idea!!

          He pretty much shuns physical contact about 75% of the time. Touch drives him batty. LOL I do think he's trying to connect with her, I'll ask his teacher to help him with a "buddy" before these outdoors unstructured times. Earlier in the school year she asked another student in the class to be his buddy and it was great - the other boy kept Alexander under his wing and really looked out for him. I think getting that started again would really be a boon for him.

          Marianne - He definitely has food sensitivities in addition to the sensory intergration issues. We are a Feingold family (almost three years now). I don't think he had any slip-ups last week and the teacher knows that he's on a restricted diet so he doesn't partake in any of the classroom snacks (he has his own). I haven't talked to him about being overwhelmed from a sensory standpoint and you're likely on to something there. He's usually really good about being able to communicate that to me so I'll talk to him.

          Again, thank you both. I have some new ideas and ways to approach this. I was so down about this last week as I know he is a good kid inside and that night he just cuddled up with me in bed and told me "I had a hard week mom." He doesn't cuddle often so I knew that he was really off. I don't like to see him struggle like that but I understand it is a part of growing up, even for children without extra challenges.

          Comment


          • #6
            Ok, here's a couple of things.....

            Maybe unstructured time is a bit overwhelming to him. Can you have the teacher make a PECS schedule for him that will give him choices of what to do during that time? That may make him feel like he has more control.

            Also, I believe another poster already said this, but maybe have him do something very physical right before this time. It may help him stay more grounded.

            ITA, about the social stories....great idea!


            ETA: Here is an example of PECS. I know this is simplistic, but I just wanted to give you an idea.

            Unstructured time is dicey even for "normal" kids, so for someone with needs its even more difficult.
            Last edited by Natalie; 03-30-2008, 06:59 PM.

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            • #7
              Oh thanks Natalie! My daughter used PECS before she started talking (she's also on the spectrum) - we have her PECS board around here somewhere. We also have picture schedules that we use at home.

              I think I've seen the picture schedules up in my son's classroom, I'm going to talk to his teacher and see if she can draw his attention towards them. He loves the schedules I've created at home so I think I might create him one for school, laminate it, and put it in his backpack.

              Thank you all for your feedback, I feel really refreshed about this and know that I have some new directions to take!!

              We definitely need a hug smiley...must...find...one!

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              • #8
                yes we do need the hug smilie Melissa!
                I am late here-sorry!

                I am glad so many have come to you with great advice.

                The implusive behaviors are a challenge to manage, bu tit can be done with the right tools and much empathy on our side.

                You are an aware Mother (thanks to AP! and natural tendancies of course) and you have a great handle on your son's needs and are doing the right things for yourself and you son by seeking support.
                I am so glad we have this forum!

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                • #9
                  Thanks Traci!

                  Friday and Monday were both good days for him. Hopefully the trend continues.

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