DD has been tentatively diagnosed with ASD, and we have gotten her (back) into behaviour therapy/psychiatrist. While her behaviour has improved greatly, she still has violent, angry outbursts, where she says she hates me, she doesn't want to live with me/us anymore, she only loves DS, she wishes I/we (DF and I) were dead, she wants to go live with grandma, she would behave for grandma, because grandma loves her, and I/we don't love her, and grandma gives her hugs, and kisses, and tells her she's special, and I/we never do, etc. (To clarify, she behaves *vastly* differently for my mom than she does for me/us. If you ask my mom, DD *rarely* says those things [above], but when she's with us, it's a daily, often hourly, occurrence. I just recently [today] put my resignation letter in to my employer, both for work-related issues, and because I think DD and DS would both benefit better with my being home. I was working from before she got home from school, until after she went to bed, so while I may not have given as many hugs/kisses to her as my mom [who watched her for about an hour before she went to school, and then again until I came home from work at 11 pm], I did give her as many as I could, always in the morning before I sent her to my mom's to catch the bus, go in and if I could get down to her bed, when I got home, when she climbed into bed with me later in the night, etc, maybe it wasn't enough, I don't know.) I'm pregnant with #3, due in April, and she even tries to hit/kick my stomach, and say she wishes the baby would die.
My sister (who has been diagnosed with autism as well, and has been a great wealth of information for me, as well as helping me to understand a little better), has told me that the things DD says are at least in part because of her autism, and frustration, and I try not to take it personally, but I was wondering if anyone who has dealt with similar could give me some advice, or suggestions on how to not only help her not feel so angry, or be able to cope better, and also how to not get so frustrated myself, and not take things so personally?
I try to be patient, but when a majority of what communication we have is how much she hates me, or how much she wants me dead, it really hurtful. She is a very sweet, caring, smart, wonderful (not-so!) little girl, but when she's mad and starts saying those things, it's like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.
I really want to do what's best for her and us, I just not sure where to go.
Mama to DD (12.2005), DS1 (01.2009), DS2 (04.28.2013) with DH 04.10.13!!
Oh yes, my son at age 4 and 5 would tell me he hated me and loved his Dad but not me. He'd scream at me right before bed time and refuse bed time snuggles and comfort. He wouldn't allow reconnection after he'd say these things and i'd be left feeling sad and unhappy.
It didn't help that he had no diagnosis at that time. I felt like maybe I was a bad mother.
It did correspond to my pregnancy with his sister but his reactions also occurred before I became pregnant. Your sister is right in that your daughter's frustration is due to her autism. Children saying such strong things are not unusual because they don't have a concept of death and can hate very intensely and it passes quickly. I've worked with many children as a therapist who use similar words. The frequency and intensity of your daughter's feelings are what is unusual and that she has no desire to reconnect with your and make the moments "feel o.k.". Her inability to reconnect afterward is what her autism is about. You are left with the feelings because she cannot manage them or understand them.
So you can help her with this, first by NOT taking it personally and NOT reacting to her strong emotions with your own no matter how hard that is. I would honor her "feelings" of frustration and tell her you believe that she means it. But, explain that to have such strong feelings means she loves just as strongly and loves her family just as strongly. Her frustration feels powerful and she wants to get it out. Suggest other ways besides strong words to get it out....trampolines, time alone (cool down time), hoppy ball etc...some place to get out the emotional energy. Explain that you want her to know that feelings, strong feelings, are normal but, can hurt, just like booboos and we want to be careful not to give booboos with our words. Give her alternative words to use (I'm very upset, rather then HATE).
Be glad that she has your mother, an easier relationship. Many children, neurotypical children, have easier relationships with their grandparents then their parents. It is a safe haven. But don't think that means that she loves you less, even though she says she does. She doesn't understand why it feels easier with your mother. She saves her intensity for you because you are SAFE and the ultimate place to trust. Her grandmother is "part-time" and goes home.
Give her incentives for managing her feelings more constructively like extra screen time, extra snuggle time, whatever is encouraging.
I realized with time that part of why my son reacted so strongly is that he got an intense reaction back from me. He craved the interaction because the more extreme the facial expression the easier it was for him to understand it. He also was a "sensory seeker". He craved the sensory stimulation that the strong emotions provided and organized himself around it.
I, like many parents, found that changing his diet, also changed his sensory regulation for the better. I took out dairy and gluten from his diet and his emotions are much more even keeled as a result.
Your daughter and my son have some similar behaviors. I don't have any advice since I came here seeking help with about the same thing but wanted to let you know I read your post and feel your pain. You are not alone.
One thing that helped for me was to realize that "I hate you" is an expression of anger, not an analysis of a deep lasting relationship issue. A little kid is expressing frustration in the moment. When I learned to hear it in that way, it hurt less, and I was able to respond with something less escalating. Like, "Wow, you sound really mad", rather than discussions of how much I love him anyway, how much he hurt me, etc.
The other thing I learned about YoungSon, dx'd with ASD, 16 now, but 6-9 when this was an issue, was that he couldn't talk or listen effectively when he was in the middle of these blow-outs. I learned to give only the simplest safety-related commands. Really, no more words than absolutely necessary. "Go inside" rather than, "I need you to please go inside the house, because the traffic out here might be dangerous, and the neighbors can hear you..." He just couldn't hear all those extra words. I didn't bring the incident up again later either. I saw it as a neurological short-circuit, rather than an intentional or learned behavior. What worked for us was me learning his warning signals that a melt-down was imminent. For YoungSon, his eyes would go dark, his whole body posture would tense and I knew the dam was about to bust. I could sometimes, not always, avoid the explosion by gently distracting him, making a joke or something. In time, it evolved to "you look like you need a break", and more recently he can recognize that himself, and does go to his room or takes a break from whatever is frustrating him. He is still not able to discuss uncomfortable feelings very well, but he can handle them in his style. I just noticed it has really been years since uncontrolled anger has been an issue around here. I can't say it just went away, but I think he has outgrown that stage.
This too shall pass.
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)
Just want to say :hugs: I'm with you on this one, we get "i hate you, I wish you were dead" and "I wish she (NT DD) was never born" at least 3-4 times a week. I've gotten pretty good at directing DS to his room to cool off but it's really hard on my DD because she is too young to understand that it's just the melt down talking. Every year we see fewer and fewer violent melt downs so my hope it eventually they will not be so much of an issue.
Mama of 3, living in beautiful British Columbia Canada.
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