My AS son is almost 6 and has made great strides this summer in many areas. Last summer he was too scared to climb jungle gyms but early this summer he just started doing it and was really proud of himself - me too of course! Today we went to a playground he has been to before and suddenly he was scared to climb again. So frustrating. What happened? I asked him why he was scared and he said he didn't know. The last week or so he has not been sleeping well either. He knows school is starting up again soon - could it be back to school jitters? OR could it be diet? We mostly eat GFCF but not 100% - parties and special occasions we let him eat whatever and he seems to handle it fine. But for about a week I've been giving him some butter everyday (organic, grass fed) because I'm desperate for him to gain a pound before his upcoming annual check up. He's such a little peanut. I know he is taller since last year but has gained very little.
Subconscious triggers can be any of the senses. Smell is a very strong one, then sight and sound, generally. Touch can trigger memories, too. As for him not knowing why, when someone can't process an emotion, the memory tied to the emotion can be buried. It can surface unexpectedly when the person is more able to handle it and something triggers it.
Keep being supportive. That's what he needs most.
Thank you for your response. Actually it was the playground where he first overcame his fear and started doing some impressive climbing. This was the first time we had been back to this one since then. He has successfully climbed at other ones in between these visits. Really not sure why he was so afraid to climb again yesterday. He just seems more "off" lately and sensitive. I guess it could be lack of sleep. We put him to bed the same time every night -8pm. Lately he just keeps coming out and tossing and turning until 10 and then getting up around 7am or 8 if I'm lucky. He's been getting plenty of outdoor time - in fact I'm exhausted at the end of everyday and I don't know why he isn't! This seems fairly recent though - earlier in the summer the long days out seemed to be tiring him out. I give him a sticker for going to bed and he loses it when he comes out (unless to go to the bathroom) but he doesn't seem to care too much right now. (10 stickers he gets a surprise present or outing.) Maybe it's just another transition phase. I just get so frustrated because it really does feel like 1 step forward 10 steps back with him.
The fear comes and goes. It can be anxiety, memory, sensory. Don't get frustrated, just ignore it and keep bring him to places. He will get better and better.
My son is not on GFCF diet, but we provide him organic food as much as we can. This week, he is hockey camp and they provide lunch (junk food). I find his bowel movement is not good. Good eating and sleeping are important.