How to deal with explosive aspergers 9 year old girl. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Im looking for advice from experienced parents who have btdt with their kids.

My daughter has SPD with Aspergers symptoms. She is intelligent and artistic and a very awesome kid. she is considered a "model student" at school because she is quiet and low maintenance. She has had and still has several aspergers symptoms, but they only come out when she is stressed or upset. At school, she wants to fit in and she is able to maintain pleasant behavior, but it is a lot of work and requires everything she has. when she gets home to her safe zone, she falls apart when ever she has to cope with anything.

The point is... that when she has to look "normal" and act a certain way, she can but it is exhausting.

she can do it though.

When she is faced with not getting her way, or having to cope with things she doesnt like with her family, she blows her top. She calls names, wishes us dead, screams horror like sounds at the top of her lungs and basically has toddler like tantrums, but with a lot of really bad language and verbal attacks. Once she does this, because nothing we have tried can stop it, she gets it out of her system and is nice again. She says she has to do it, to make the other person feel bad because she is angry. She said she feels better when she does that. Most of the time it is because she is mad or insulted, but its really hard because so much, makes her so angry. I have other children who watch her when she has these meltdowns and it is affecting them. I dont just allow her to abuse us because of her condition because it wouldnt be right for the rest of the family, or for her in the longrun. she is just so intelligent and has to learn how to cope. I figure this forum might be the only place that might not see this as cut and dry as this being my fault or her fault. She doesnt want it to be like this. Ive tried so many strategies and anger management techniques with her and nothing helps. I cant let her behave like this at the expense of the whole family, so I wind up forced to send her to her room a lotand take away priveleges. It still doesnt solve the problem, but I cant let her do this to us and the other kids every time she gets frustrated.

Any advice from seasoned moms who know what not to do or to do would be so very appreciated.

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#2 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 01:33 PM
 
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I have no experience with aspergers but I do have a 7 year old son with one heck of a temper.  I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to give her an outlet to let out some of that built up steam at the end of the day.  An activity where she can be herself and let go of that stress and angst.

Also, how are these tantrums manifesting?  What is the antecedent?  Can it be twisted to meet her needs?  Not that your entire family should have to twist themselves into a pretzel but sometimes a simple reframing of a question can make the difference between a total meltdown and an answer.  For example - if your daughter asks for some ice cream 15 minutes before dinner.  Instead of just saying no, maybe say something like "that sounds wonderful!  We should have ice cream for dessert.  Dinner is almost ready - can you check to make sure we have enough ice cream for everyone?  If not, maybe you and I will do an ice cream run to the market after dinner."   Do you think that may work?


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#3 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 01:53 PM
 
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It sounds as though her only outlet--at least the only one she is able to recognize as such--for blowing off steam is to tantrum.

 

You've probably tried all my ideas already, but here they are just in case.

 

My son has several outlets, and all of them are physical: he can swing on the swingset (which looks weird now that he is in high school, but it sure beats spinning and flapping, which is what he used to do), he rides his bike for MILES, or he runs around the neighborhood. Or he'll practice Tae Kwon Do.

 

And he seems to need to do this the MOMENT he comes home from school.

 

The school bus noise, and the KIND of noise on the bus, used to drive him crazy. Besides for the decibel level being beyond his limits, he could hear every single conversation going on, and couldn't track which conversation was directed at him; he couldn't filter.  Auditory processing therapy can be very helpful for this; we actually had far better results with, of all things, Suzuki violin lessons, which did almost all of the same things that APT did, but he learned a skill, had yet another outlet (music) because of it, had built-in social situations because of it, etc.

 

Listening to music while he does his post-school "work-out" seems to be very important to him, but we have told him that he can't do any of this with earbuds in, as we feel it's already too easy for him to disconnect from the world.  So he plays his iPod through the speakers while swinging, and runs with earbuds clipped to his collar, so he can hear the music, but can also hear a car.

 

Like most autistic kids, he responds very well to the idea of rules.  The rule in our house is, he can't tantrum.  It's fine (and normal!) to have angry feelings, it's fine (and normal!) to express them, it's fine to need to yell or kick something--but the rule is, he must find a way to control it so that nobody gets hurt, either physically or emotionally, or even scared.  It's not fine to hurt other people emotionally,  and that's a rule everywhere.

 

Like all rules, there are almost always exceptions, but as long as we explain that there ARE exceptions, what those exceptions are, and the reasons for those exceptions, he "gets it" and makes it part of how he functions.

 

When he was very little, and would get upset, I would say, "I think you need a drink of water," and would offer him a sippy cup of water.  He would drink, and it would seem to help calm him down--maybe a leftover from when he was a baby/toddler and nursing calmed him down when he was upset?

 

Interestingly, when he's very upset NOW, he will ask for a drink of water, or, ask to be excused to get a drink of water.  

 

But I don't know that any of that will be helpful for your daughter. Every kid is different.

 

When she is calm and happy, is it possible to discuss plans and strategies for her that involve HER ideas?  Maybe she's at an age and stage where she needs to feel some independence and autonomy?

 

Does she know how deeply you do understand what she is going through? That she is frustrated by her limitations--and distressed on top of that by not being able to control the vicious cycle that the limitations/frustrations cause?  It can be very painful for these kids to realize as teenagers that they are not quite like their peers, and that those differences can cause them to let situations spin out of their control, which makes it even MORE painful and frustrating.  She may need a lot of extra reassurance from you that you really do understand how frustrating it is for her, especially if her siblings don't have any of these issues.

 

It's also possible that this anger and abusive behavior pattern has nothing to do with the SPD/Asperger's, and is a separate thing altogether, but that's way beyond the scope of my experience/knowledge.  The only thing I would wonder is if she is on any kind of psych meds, because those can actually cause the kind of behavior you are talking about.

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#4 of 15 Old 06-25-2012, 02:31 PM
 
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Mom2, I'm on vacation without a lot of time to post, but I wanted to sub to this thread for later. My 10 yo dd sounds just like your dd. It is so tiring and frustrating. She stresses out the entire family. I have her in therapy (again!) to work on the anger, and she will be seeing a developmental pediatrician soon to see if we can get a better diagnosis. Had a SPD dx at age 4. Anyway, hugs to you.

Amanda, mom to dsd (16), dd (11), dd (8), and ds (born 11/12/11).
 

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#5 of 15 Old 06-27-2012, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Taximom5,

We have never tried medication with her.I dont think a medication could teach her to manage her emotions. Her emotions are real and at some point I do feel she will learn. When she is calm and happy it is always easy to be with her and talk about feelings and strategies. She says she is going to try this or that and even comes up with her own ideas. When the point comes that she is faced with not getting her way, she just sees red. She gets so abnormally angry at situations that other kids (even mine) just accept or get slightly annoyed. She is in her room right now because she got up and asked what she could have for breakfast. The other kids are happily eating. We have hard boiled eggs, yogurt, fresh berries, nuts, and cereal. She decided she wanted scrambled eggs and I told her tomorrow we can. She stomped around and slammed the pantry doors around and then said some nasty things. Now she is in her room reading Harry Potter. Now, if I had accomodated her and said okay, it would have been only because I am afraid of the outcome. It would be unfair for her to "rule" the house and it wouldnt be good for her in the long run  When she behaves like this I know people would just think, "Wow, what an out of control spoiled brat". I know I would.

Its funny what you say about her temper not being related to the aspergers/spd diagnosis. I wonder that myself. On her fathers side she has many volitile, explosive, angry type personalities, but she hasnt been around them so that it could have impacted her, so unless its inherited genetically (which maybe is the case).

If it's not related though, what am I left with? Another "disorder" or just a child with a TERRIBLE hateful attitide who is only pleasant and kind when everything is going her way? I just don't believe that exists. I think for someone to be this way its because something isn't right.

I think her nervous system is wound up all the time and she hasnt had the capacity to develop her coping skills in her safe zone. Thats what I see as her mom. She is easy to be with in situations that are easy for her, but the minute something goes on that she doesnt like, forget it....... she starts yelling and saying terrible things. It is so frustrating because in public and in school, no one would ever know she "has" anything. I just wish I could help her to find the ways to hold it together with our family. We have tried so many things and so far nothing is working.

I will try talking to her more about understanding what she is feeling and maybe that will help. Part of the problem here is that I also have sensory problems and I also cannot relate to angry outbursts at all. I just dont "get" that part of human behavior. It overwhelms me and makes me feel sick. Ive been working on that, and have told her it's ok to be angry and say you are angry at me, or because of something, but it's not ok to call names,curse, break things, etc.

I don't feel helpless in this situation, I just think there is something that hasnt enlighted her yet and it will come.

Everything else has improved as she gets older. Eye contact, social life, stomach problems, some sensory stuff.... these have all improved with time. I am hoping the coping part has just been delayed too and this isnt the way she is going to be in her close relationships.

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#6 of 15 Old 06-27-2012, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Talktomenow,

Id love to talktoyou sometime about this haha!

We tried therapy and that made her even more furious and she felt extremely betrayed by me. She sobbed and said this lady could NOT help her to change. She then became fixated on me wanting her to change who she is and that I want a different child. It was heartbreaking. I told her I would NEVER want to change her, I just wanted "US" to get help with communication. She is very smart and pays attention to everything. When she saw me paying the woman, she was disgusted. When we got in the car she said "Youre actually PAYING for this? I can't believe it. She was so upset about the whole thing. She said she hated the lady for knowing her private business and she hates me for telling her. I was afraid she would tell me nothing about what was going on in her world if I pursued it. Id rather have her angry that living in tragic misery

Does it help your daughter? Maybe you could pass on what works or doesnt work?

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#7 of 15 Old 06-27-2012, 12:50 PM
 
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mom2happy, sounds like you are doing an amazing job with a very difficult situation.


I agree with you about meds, BTW.

 

What I'm wondering is, what does your daughter think about all this, not when she's upset, but when she's calm, relatively happy, and can think within being tangled in the emotions of the moment?

 

What are her goals--for how she relates with peers, siblings, parents, strangers, etc?

 

What does she think might be necessary for her to achieve those goals?

 

What are her fears?  Does she have any ideas on how to deal with those?

Sounds like she (understandably) resents and fears that she is considered "broken" or "not good enough."  Maybe if things can be rephrased and re-presented so that she feels like SHE is the one deciding on the goals, and SHE is the one deciding on how to get there, she might then have something tangible to reach for in her mind, to help her deal with everything.  And maybe SHE might choose seeking help from someone.

 

You can offer to be the one trying to help her (yeah, right, like any kid would go for that eyesroll.gif) or she can choose a school counselor, someone at church/synagogue, a psychologist, or a favorite teacher to ask advice from.

 

But the message would be that she's not broken, she's not horrible, she just needs to find usable tools to help her deal with difficult moments, and that LOTS OF PEOPLE need help to find these tools.  Some people deal with difficult situations more easily than others, and you want her to be able to be able to deal with difficult situations so that she can be happier.  I don't know if it's necessary for her to understand exactly what she is feeling in order to deal with it.  She only needs to understand that what she's feeling is more than she can cope with, and she needs to use XYZ strategies to get through the moment (or half hour, or hour, or even through the day)--and then she can take a better look at what she's feeling LATER.  Those feelings will still be there. That's something that's hard for kids to "get."  They think that they have to let it out, RIGHT NOW.  But they don't.  They can shelve it, and deal with it when it won't consume them. And that's something else they need to be taught--the feelings can consume them if they let them.

 

My college room-mate had an interesting strategy.  She would focus all her bad feelings on her wristwatch (this was way back when people wore wrist watches!), and would take it off and shut it in a drawer when she wanted to focus on homework.  She said as soon as she opened the drawer and put the watch back on, everything that had been upsetting her was waiting for her, but having taken some time, she was better able to deal with it.  But she needed that visual of the wristwatch to make it work.

 

You've probably thought of all this and tried it already! 

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#8 of 15 Old 07-04-2012, 07:31 PM
 
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Hi Talktomenow,

Id love to talktoyou sometime about this haha!

We tried therapy and that made her even more furious and she felt extremely betrayed by me. She sobbed and said this lady could NOT help her to change. She then became fixated on me wanting her to change who she is and that I want a different child. It was heartbreaking. I told her I would NEVER want to change her, I just wanted "US" to get help with communication. She is very smart and pays attention to everything. When she saw me paying the woman, she was disgusted. When we got in the car she said "Youre actually PAYING for this? I can't believe it. She was so upset about the whole thing. She said she hated the lady for knowing her private business and she hates me for telling her. I was afraid she would tell me nothing about what was going on in her world if I pursued it. Id rather have her angry that living in tragic misery

Does it help your daughter? Maybe you could pass on what works or doesnt work?

 

Hi again! I'm back from vacation with more time to post! smile.gif My daughter has only been to one session with her new therapist so far, but it went ok. She has another scheduled for next Monday. I told her that I thought she should go because the therapist can help her learn to deal with her anger. She had two major meltdowns in front of her friends recently, and now said friends don't want to hang out with her anymore. So deep down, she knows she can use the help. I also told her that I have been to therapy many times before because I was anxious and unhappy. I said that my therapist was able to help me fix these things. That seemed to help. Also, I talked to another mom whose child is in therapy for anxiety. It was good for her to know that other kids go to therapy, even kids she knows.

 

I'm actually going to therapy now myself to work on dealing with her! It is very stressful for me. I feel sad for her and frustrated for her all at the same time. My therapist is helping me work on *not* always wanting to fix her. She says I need to accept her the way she is. It helps me to talk about it anyway.

 

Right now, I'm still waiting on the referral to come through for the developmental pediatrician. I'm hopeful that seeing him will give me some more to go on... 


Amanda, mom to dsd (16), dd (11), dd (8), and ds (born 11/12/11).
 

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#9 of 15 Old 07-05-2012, 06:36 AM
 
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Hi mom2happy,

 

I haven't BTDT yet because my son is only 2, but reading your words about your daughter reminded me intensely of my late husband. Please just ignore this if it doesn't ring true for you.

 

When things were going smoothly, he was sweet, compassionate, thoughtful, and kind. When he felt insulted or thwarted, he lashed out in pretty much every way possible. It was a kind of anger I've never seen before or since, and I walked on eggshells hoping to avoid it and knowing it was bound to return, unpredictably.

 

It was very clear to me that what was happening was that he was living with a whole lot of very deep, very intense sadness that had put down some very deep roots. Since it was too much for him to allow himself to feel that pain, the only way he could let it out was in the form of anger, which feels safer. Unconsciously, he would use any slightly uncomfortable situation as a trigger to vent some of the pain through the safety of rage. Not a sustainable strategy, of course.

 

So it occurred to me to wonder if your daughter is feeling something more like sadness, or fear, and expressing it as anger. I have no answers, other than that feelings usually need to be felt, we need to learn to be aware of them and acknowledge them, and only then will they move on and allow other feelings in.

 

I wish you all the best.

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#10 of 15 Old 07-07-2012, 02:22 PM
 
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Hey. I'm only on MDC every month or so, so let me say HI and introduce myself. I have several kids on the spectrum. I wanted to address the meds. We were always anti medication with our kids, because I wanted them to do as much as possible without. But now I'm kicking myself because my daughter is on meds and it's helped SO much. It takes the edge off of her anger, and gives her kind of a speed bump to help her slow down and rationally think out the consequences of her actions. 

 

I'm not saying that everyone needs meds, but I think they can help kids who hate their behavior, want to change and just don't know how. Which is exactly what your daughter sounds like, she comes up with ideas, but doesn't know how to stop her anger, and doesn't know how to implement them in the situation.  It helps to have a good psychologist who knows ASDs too, most therapists do NOT understand how their brains work and just screw up the process. I feel for your daughter, my oldest son was there, and it moved quickly into self hate. She'll make progress on her own, but some help goes a long way. 

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Thanks Taximom5,

We have never tried medication with her.I dont think a medication could teach her to manage her emotions. Her emotions are real and at some point I do feel she will learn. When she is calm and happy it is always easy to be with her and talk about feelings and strategies. She says she is going to try this or that and even comes up with her own ideas. When the point comes that she is faced with not getting her way, she just sees red. She gets so abnormally angry at situations that other kids (even mine) just accept or get slightly annoyed. She is in her room right now because she got up and asked what she could have for breakfast. The other kids are happily eating. We have hard boiled eggs, yogurt, fresh berries, nuts, and cereal. She decided she wanted scrambled eggs and I told her tomorrow we can. She stomped around and slammed the pantry doors around and then said some nasty things. Now she is in her room reading Harry Potter. Now, if I had accomodated her and said okay, it would have been only because I am afraid of the outcome. It would be unfair for her to "rule" the house and it wouldnt be good for her in the long run  When she behaves like this I know people would just think, "Wow, what an out of control spoiled brat". I know I would.

Its funny what you say about her temper not being related to the aspergers/spd diagnosis. I wonder that myself. On her fathers side she has many volitile, explosive, angry type personalities, but she hasnt been around them so that it could have impacted her, so unless its inherited genetically (which maybe is the case).

If it's not related though, what am I left with? Another "disorder" or just a child with a TERRIBLE hateful attitide who is only pleasant and kind when everything is going her way? I just don't believe that exists. I think for someone to be this way its because something isn't right.

I think her nervous system is wound up all the time and she hasnt had the capacity to develop her coping skills in her safe zone. Thats what I see as her mom. She is easy to be with in situations that are easy for her, but the minute something goes on that she doesnt like, forget it....... she starts yelling and saying terrible things. It is so frustrating because in public and in school, no one would ever know she "has" anything. I just wish I could help her to find the ways to hold it together with our family. We have tried so many things and so far nothing is working.

I will try talking to her more about understanding what she is feeling and maybe that will help. Part of the problem here is that I also have sensory problems and I also cannot relate to angry outbursts at all. I just dont "get" that part of human behavior. It overwhelms me and makes me feel sick. Ive been working on that, and have told her it's ok to be angry and say you are angry at me, or because of something, but it's not ok to call names,curse, break things, etc.

I don't feel helpless in this situation, I just think there is something that hasnt enlighted her yet and it will come.

Everything else has improved as she gets older. Eye contact, social life, stomach problems, some sensory stuff.... these have all improved with time. I am hoping the coping part has just been delayed too and this isnt the way she is going to be in her close relationships.


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#11 of 15 Old 07-07-2012, 02:24 PM
 
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Hi Talktomenow,

Id love to talktoyou sometime about this haha!

We tried therapy and that made her even more furious and she felt extremely betrayed by me. She sobbed and said this lady could NOT help her to change. She then became fixated on me wanting her to change who she is and that I want a different child. It was heartbreaking. I told her I would NEVER want to change her, I just wanted "US" to get help with communication. She is very smart and pays attention to everything. When she saw me paying the woman, she was disgusted. When we got in the car she said "Youre actually PAYING for this? I can't believe it. She was so upset about the whole thing. She said she hated the lady for knowing her private business and she hates me for telling her. I was afraid she would tell me nothing about what was going on in her world if I pursued it. Id rather have her angry that living in tragic misery

Does it help your daughter? Maybe you could pass on what works or doesnt work?

This! We told my son that he did not have to change who he was....but we needed to implement some changes in how he acted, because those were things that would get him in trouble as he got older. You say you'd rather have her angry, but that can escalate, name calling to throwing, throwing to hitting, etc. My friend's daughter is 19 and doing the same thing. It's not working for her, in the long run.


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#12 of 15 Old 07-07-2012, 03:06 PM
 
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Do you have her follow a Sensory Diet? I have been trying to teach my 7yo aspie dd to use EFT when she gets really upset as a way to cool down. She has also really been liking chanting with me, one of her favorites for when she gets mad is OM Nama Shiva(sp?). Have you thought about things like Magnesium Supplements, or therapeutic Epsom Salt baths? Have you tried any elimination diets? We found out gluten makes dd seriously crazy.


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#13 of 15 Old 07-08-2012, 02:08 PM
 
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Mom2happy, I would love to get to know you in real life.   My daughter will be turning nine in just a few weeks.  She has similar behavior at times, similar poignancy, intelligence, and diagnoses. 

 

I found the melatonin suggested in these forums was very helpful in reducing, but not eliminating, her meltdowns.   There are such great suggestions in this thread that I am printing it out. 

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#14 of 15 Old 07-09-2012, 02:22 PM
 
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Hi mom2happy,

 

I have a 10 year old with high functioning pdd-nos.  He has had similar problems with anger and like your daughter he is very emotionally invested in "appearing normal", whatever that means, yes?  He is self conscious and wants to be seen by his friends as cool and smart so he works very hard during the day to be part of everything, academic and social.  No one would have ever know as well that he is on the spectrum unless they saw him at home.

 

We worked with him a long time at home using what we called a good words and good deeds chart.  The issue was not that he didn't know what would please us, he needed a push to get there and a motivation to work hard when working hard is the last thing he wanted to do.  That sounds harsh but it is true...At school, his motivation is to be "like everyone else"...his good words and good deeds chart for him, was a concrete writing out of direct expectations...ie, when you are unhappy about something, you use a kind calm voice to explain your thoughts.  We would write out the expectations and he would work on 4 or 5 things a day for weeks on end until he mastered them properly.  He is very motivated by money, so for everything that was checked off that he did, he earned a certain amount, so that by the end of the week he could have earned 6 or 7 dollars a week.  Then he could use the money to buy something of his choosing...a toy, a movie etc.  We would change the good words and good deed chart based on what was currently causing him a difficult time at home.

 

Sounds like bribery, yes?  But, I'll tell you, and I told him the same thing, that we were doing it to acknowledge that it is hard work for him to do the things we are asking of him, we knew he felt badly and wanted to change, and that this "reward" was an incentive and a push to get through it to the other side...an "investment" if you will, in seeing him get there, in the same way that some parents give their children a dollar for every A on their report card.  And,  eventually, he would see that he can do it and we would all be so happy and proud.

 

Often kids on the spectrum need rewards externalized before they can learn and do expected behavior.  It is natural to feel frustrated, angry and lash out.  It is part of the human condition, not just a spectrum behavior.  By closing off one way of dealing with the anger, we turned it into something positive.  We just reminded him...remember what you are working on...and you hope to earn enough to by a game for your DS or a movie over the weekend.  It would help him to gain self control when he didn't want to.  And, he then over time no longer needed the system because he got there!

 

At the same time, we gave him lots of time to run around after school, then time alone, when he first got home.  It helped his nervous system settle into the home routine to read a book and be quiet.

 

I hope that this helps.  We used our system for 3 years and now he's outgrown it, and grown so much emotionally.  I want to add too, that while I respect that other's here have had good experiences with medication for kids on the spectrum, there are alternatives, and since this is Mothering, and lots of folks do things alternatively, I want to share that we found that dietary changes (mainly GF/CF) and homeopathic treatment worked wonders in helping our son integrate his sensory system.  Over a year and a half of a diet and CEASE homeopathic treatment (look CEASE up on-line if you're curious) has helped him reach his potential more fully, calm him, enable him to think clearly and manage himself thoughtfully.  He has shed a great number of his more troubling behaviors.  It is possible to help your daughter get to this place....and I wish you good luck on your journey.  I hope that some of our experience is helpful.

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#15 of 15 Old 07-09-2012, 08:05 PM
 
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I wanted just say that alternative biomedical/ dietary interventions where very beneficial in helping my asd children.  You mentioned she had stomach problems that was improving.  Was she in pain?  Something to look into is probiotics for gut health & omega 3s.  You can even research 5HTP or GABA supplements as they related to the behaviors you describe.

 

I also wanted to give you a great big (((HUG))).  My eldest ASD just turned 10yrs and my DH and I have been amazed.  We have days were we are ready to pull our hair out, but we are grateful at the level she is functioning.  One of our biggest struggles is getting her to see the perspectives of everyone around her when things do not go as planned.  We have these same struggles with our 8 yr old asd son.  One of the things that has helped is having a written schedule/ calendar so there aren't surprises.  My DD doesn't rely on it as much as my DS, but it certainly helps keep them calm when they know what to expect.  My DD refers to it when she needs to.  My DS checks off each event as he finishes.  We even have our meals planned so they know what to expect.  The written schedule is more powerful than verbal schedules or directions simply because they can remind themselves.

 

I completely agree with the other posters with regards to finding activities of interest to let out some of that energy, as well as a few activities or acts she can perform when she does need to have an outlet.  Might even consider creating a social story that outlines the steps to calm herself that she can carry with her to read when she feels angry, frustrated, etc.  In fact, she can help create it.  These types of social stories have really helped my children.

 

I think you are an amazing parent.  How wonderful she has come this far because of you. 

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