Help!!! Super sensitive sense of smell, super sensitive hearing, and an attitude about everyone who "offends" him with it... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm crossposting in Parenting and in Special Needs Parenting, because part of this is about a physical problem and part of this is about an attitude problem. In short, we need lots of advice, because my son is driving us crazy and we're driving him crazy as well.

My son has Asperger's. He's socially inept and doesn't think about other people's feelings. Not because he doesn't care, but because he just doesn't get it.

My son has always had a very sensitive sense of hearing and an even more sensitive sense of smell. When he was a preschooler, certain smells would actually make him gag. About a year ago, around when puberty hit, his sense of smell and his sense of hearing became even more sensitive. This is the first problem.

We have a fairly big apartment, but if somebody's cooking in the kitchen, he says it's smelling up his room. We have certain resteraunts we go to that he doesn't like to go to... and doesn't like us to go to without him, either, because he says he can still smell it on us, even after we get home, even hours later. (Is this even possible?) And God forbid, anyone go to the bathroom. We have two- one next to his room and one on the other side of the house. If someone goes to the bathroom, even just #1, he will go on and on about how he can smell it and it's "stinking up his room". And his hearing. He can hear someone chew from across the room or sometimes even from another room. (Is that even possible?) And it drives him crazy. That's the first problem- the sense of smell and the sensitive hearing. I have unusually good hearing, and I've always had a better sense of smell than most people I know, so I do know a bit how he feels, and I think the Asperger's plays into it some with his sensory issues. But I do suspect that it's really not as bad as he lets on to be- we've tested it a couple times, with something "smelly" before he came home, and him not picking up on it. Anyways, that's the first problem. For his own comfort, what can we do about how he can't handle smells and sounds?

The second issue at hand. Life with my son has become a constant state of critisizm. He will constantly tell us (me, my Hubby, my little girl) how distgusting we are, because of a smell or a sound.

This morning, he went on and on about how the smell of my Hubby's coffee was making him sick and how disgusting it smells and how disgusting his Dad was gonna smell and on and on about "how can I (me) stand it, with him smelling up the house like that?". Needless to say, my Hubby left for work early and all pissed off.

Last week, it was raining (read: sprinking), but I had to walk the dogs, because they really needed to go. I came inside, and you would have thought I had commited a felony, the screaming fit about "wet dog smell" and "couldn't I have put them in their crates and made them wait" and how I'm so disgusting, can't I smell that? And of course, as soon as we came into the house, the dogs, like they do every time, went over to say hi to my kids and Hubby. My son started yelling at the dogs for coming over to him when they smelled like that, pushing them roughly away, and then yelling at me and the dogs because he touched them and now his hands will smell until he takes a shower and none of this would have happened if I didn't walk the dogs. (On a side note, one of my dogs has always been very sensitive and has anxiety issues. Within the last six months or so, when his outbursts became getting more frequent, she's become even more neurotic. I'm worried about her mental health now as well.)

A couple weeks ago, my Hubby and son went to my Father-in-Law's house and my Father-in-Law's brother was there. The brother is a cool guy, a bit rough around the edges, but everyone loves him. Except, apparently, my son, now. The entire visit, my son was disrespecting the brother, would not shake his hand (something he's always done- he used to love this guy), because earlier, the brother had been working in the yard with my Father-in-Law and, although he's washed his hands, it wasn't up to my son's standards. Another example, was, my Father-in-Law dropped a roll of tape, and asked my son to pick it up. My son refused, because it had rolled closer to the brother and the brother smelled. My Husband was absolutely humiliated (as was I, when I heard about it later) and sent my son home. (We live across town). We'd had plans to have dinner with my Father-in-Law and his brother, but my Father-in-Law actually uninvited us, because of this.

And then there was lunch on Sunday. My son and stepdaughter were eating lunch in the livingroom. Next thing I know, my son had my stepdaughter in tears, because "she was chewing too loud" and she was "disgusting". Not just those two simple comments, but he went on and on about it, chewing her out for at least ten minutes. And then another several minutes complaining to me in front of her about why can't I do something about her loud chewing. (Please note here, if my stepdaughter's Mother get's word of any of this, she will make a big federal case about this and try to stop visitation because of the "emotional abuse".) This is beginning to happen on a regular basis, the latest this morning, when I mentioned that his sister would be coming today instead of tomorrow, because tomorrow, my Hubby's going on a business trip. My son started going on and on about "why's she have to come over" and "she's disgusting" and "she gets her germs all over everything" (did I mentoin, he's become a germaphobic recently, as well?) and how she ruins everything for him. (This is not the son I raised, not the personality he used to have at all!!!) He does this every time she comes over, sometimes even in front of her. I'm surprised she even talks to him anymore. Of course, my Hubby, hearing this on the tail end of the coffe comments, left for work early and pissed off.

What can I do to help my son get rid of his attitude? It's one thing to make a comment about a smell, but quite another to completely verbally destroy someone with rude comments about a smell. My son's relationship with my Father-in-Law is shot, with my Hubby, damaged, and I'm always feeling like I need to protect my little girl from him, lately. (She's got the kind of personality, where she might be in abusive relationships when she's an adult. I don't want my son to be prepping her early on this, making her think that's her place in the world.) I love my son very much, but I'm even not wanting to be around him much lately. And this is causing alot of tension between my Hubby and I. I suspect he's been working late in order to avoid all this. Sometimes I wish I had that option. What can I do?!

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#2 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 10:11 AM
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How old is he? What kinds of therapies is he receiving and what has he received in the past? Have you used social stories? Is he on any supplements or medication?

My general comment is that I understand it is really hard when you don't experience the world the way he does but really, he's not yanking your chain; he actually feels that threatened by noises and smells. Try to imagine a bit how that feels for him - that has got to be incredibly difficult to live in that body. That isn't to say that is free license for him to make everyone's life hell, but to say if you can't start from a place of accepting the legitimacy of his experience it will be hard to address this.

Therapy, social stories, supplements etc. could play a role. Zinc and EFA supplementation helped a great deal here with the stuff you are describing. Beyond this I would encourage having some resources available to him when he's overwhelmed by sound and smell. For sound, noise muffling earphones can be a huge help. He may be able to use them just to get calmed down and then take them off.

For the smell, many people find they do well with some kind of counter smell that they like. One option would be to put a cotton ball with an essential oil that he likes in a little film canister. He could take it out and smell to combat the other upsetting smells. Or, he could wear a wristband with the smell on it. Lemongrass is the particular smell that seems to be well tolerated in our family - but it has to be the actual essential oil and not some kind of fake version of it.

They key is coming up with means of sensory reoganization that will feel good to him and that he can be in control of himself. That should help lower his anxiety some.
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#3 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 01:38 PM
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Great tips roar! I also wanted to post to say that he likely IS serious in how he is explaining his expeience. I experience things in a similar way. When I am relaxed and not overwhelmed or overstimulated, it is a lot easier to be polite about it. If I am overstimulated I still can't help making a face if I have to go down the laundry detergent isle! If my hubby eats a snack near me and I am already " done" for the day... the sound is horrendous. Truly!! I can hear every movement of the tongue and the food squishing and the teeth gnashing. I try to be polite but it truly feels like fingernails on a chalkboard. Now I am aware enough about my reaction that I can be completely grossed out and then laugh about how ridiculous it all is. My family knows me well enough that they get me.

When you are going through puberty though things are often a little on edge. Imagine if you were completely irritated about something else, struggling to focus on something important( maybe calculating your taxes or something) and then someone continually blew an annoying whistle in the room or something. ( maybe that doesn't bug other people... is that a bad example?) Does he have music that he listens to on headphones. Maybe massage would help? I really liked water , so long baths and frequent trips to the swimming pool helped me. I really remember my sensory system going wild when I was a teen. Now I wish that I may have had OT or something... cause it doesn't go away.

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#4 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 03:10 PM
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the pp's comments sound very wise and useful. also, have you read any of temple grandin's books? i have only read a little, but i think she really offers some great insight into what aspergers truly *feels, sounds, smells* like - at least one person's experience. i agree that it's hard to imagine some things that are out of our personal realms of experience, but it sounds like your son is really challenged by these experiences, and i hope you're able to listen to how much this affects him. it sounds like it would be helpful for the whole family, actually !
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#5 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 04:02 PM
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I have no advice for you but I wanted to point out that the replies you are recieving in "Special Need Parenting" differs so greatly from the replies you are recieving in "Parenting." It is said that many people do not understand what it is really like having a child who truely cannot control their reactions to outside stimuli. I hope you find something that works for you and your child.

SAHM Michael 01-07 & Emmy 12-08
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#6 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 04:48 PM
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I know dh and I have some mild sensory things going on - he gripes when I eat a snack in the evening. I've got my mouth closed what else can I do? I gripe when he comes home with chewing gum and insist that her get rid of it immediately. Gum is just so nasty. If the person who prepared my burger had pickle juice on their glove, I won't be able to eat it. And there is some spice - tarragon? - that tastes like mustard to me, and if I get a bite, it ruins a whole dinner. So I know these feelings can be legitamate.

I wonder if at that age the child can help you brainstorm some ways to address his concerns. Talk about ways that each of you can compromise. Maybe if he will discover that certain things are just too much - like gum for me - but he can tolerate someone using the restroom near his room if a diffuser is running with essential oils.

On the other hand, you are saying he is verbally abusing others over this stuff. I'm no autism expect, but I think that is a separate issue that also needs to be addressed.
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#7 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 06:40 PM
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I think Roar read my mind and posted!!!!

Honestly any parent without an ASD child will most likely give you bad advice... I don't think I would listen to it, but that is me.

It's sounds like you are so frustrated and angry and that all of you are "forgetting" that your son cannot (and may never) act like you want him to. You have to go back and have everyone remember that first! Hubby needs to be onboard and you all have to work on building the "tough skin" on yourselves back up! Then you need to get to the business of helping your son be able to "soothe" himself (he must feel he is living in a nightmare day and night... how my son and hubby would describe it) and then work on at least "coping" at minimum. If this does not happen he will be a miserable adult when the world is always pissed at him for things he can't "see".

Please list what you "do" for him. Is he in a special school (or tried homeschooling)? Does he have OT? Is he getting therapy? Is he on any meds (antidepressants can help some)? Do you have his room "safe"? A soothing color, very soft bedding, a "white noise" machine with aromatherapy function (I bought one for $30 at Target... you can buy any scent he likes). Have you read alot of books on what it is like? Have you browsed the "Wrong Planet" boards? Have you done any therapies with him to learn "social cues".

Do you stick up for your son to others or do you just get embarrased and angry? Does everyone KNOW he is spectrum? If he was in a wheelchair would they get pissed that they had to carry him? I am serious. I have relatives who don't remember no matter how many times I tell.... say they remember but have ZERO clue and say mean things.... NO ONE truly understands until they live it! And it's your job to steer your son away from these people and ANY situatiuon that triggers it. Yes it sucks. Yes it can mean staying home and not having much of a life at times... but this is the only time you have to protect your son and help him acheive a level of functioning that keeps him as "whole" as possible. And sometimes that means alot of sacrafice as a parent. But that is a parent's job. And just because I don't feel what my hubby and son do (both aspies) does NOT mean they are lying! Nor does it mean they can turn it off like a switch to be more convienent for me or to make someone else happy. Nor does that mean they are "brats"... it means they can't cope. I had to accept that and let my anger and frustration go and realize IT'S NOT PERSONAL!!!!!!!!!

I spent a couple of years where if there was a bad smell or too many people or "________" my son would scream and cry hysterically and hide under tables and chairs. I had to swallow any "bad" feelings I had and learn to stay away from those people or situations until my son learned more coping skills and could be "desensitzed" more. It did eventually happen but on his time.... not on a time frame to make others more comfy. He is who he is... he will always be who he is. I am not ashamed of him, and I will not allow others to "talk down to him" because of it. I want his self esteem INTACT when he reaches adulthood. My husband's parents did not do this. They DESTROYED parts of him for their own comfort.

It sounds like family therapy or a caregivers group would be good for you and hubby, and something to help son "cope" at the house + learn new coping mechanisms outside.

Therapy or meds/supp's might help a bit too.

Working on a "safe" way for him to react instead of saying "discusting" or yelling... (with or without a therapist type person)... maybe you can get him to use a different word, or allow/urge him to leave the room and retreat to his bedroom and put on his sound/aroma machine and turn off the lights EVERYTIME he is overwhelmed. STOP taking him places that trigger him UNTIL he can cope better! Just don't!

Screw what family and friends think.... your son is different and if they take offense or hold a grudge than they suck... plain as day. Stick up for son, not them. Yes son may do "horrible" things... but he can't "control" it... so don't get mad at him, help him through it. And if a family member can't understanf, let it roll off, or forgive... then they have issues and not enough loves.

Also have you tried to help the daughter cope with the brother? Build up her skin? Teach her more about ASD and let her know that he is not trying to rip her apart?

You have to teach EVERYONE in the house how to cope... you HAVE to!!!!

I am babbling now... I hope my post does not sound mean, I wasn't trying to be bitchy. It's a hard road to travel, but we are their ONLY guides. What we do NOW is going to decide their outcomes in the future.

Take a deep breath!

And remember you hold the key to this.

Screw everyone else.

This is about him not them.

You are his only hope.

Resistance is futile Matey
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#8 of 8 Old 03-31-2009, 06:44 PM
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I'm going to close this thread so that it can take place in one forum. Here's the link to the thread in parenting.

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