Can anyone give me insight to what is going on and how I might help her and all of us to make it better?
Mama to three wonderful girls, H (9-2-04), A (8-23-07), and Q(4-24-11, our Easter baby). Married to D since (6-3-00).
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)
When kids have a hard time expressing their feelings to others, or even identifying and understanding them themselves, it can be very very frustrating and lead to explosive outbursts and anger. My son has struggled with this very issue for years! I wish I could say they outgrow it, but they don't, instead you learn tools and ways to manage it so it doesn't take over their day. We help my son identify things that frustrate him and make him upset so he can identify his triggers early on. We started this when he was very young. We gave him a lot of ways to express his anger, but never told him that it was not ok to be angry. Anger and frustration are natural and I feel its important that they know that, but also learn how to express it.
The best way to help minimize it for our son is to do things that provide a lot of sensory feedback. Kids with ASD often struggle with sensory issues and this amplifies normal frustrations and makes the fuse even shorter. I give him things he can do that work with his sensory needs. He's now old enough to walk the dog, so that's one way he calms down and redirects. When he was younger I had sensory activities available, things that provided tactile feedback: shaker bottles, swings, play dough. And sometimes they just need to know its ok to find a quiet spot and have alone time to process it all. Once my son and I started identifying his triggers and seeing when things would escalate, we were able to utilize things like this to make the outbursts less frequent or redirect them quicker.
With my kids with ASD, we had to practice using anger management skills in the moment. Talking about how to handle anger is great, but he couldn't move from feeling angry to doing something about it without coaching.
When he was starting to go off, I would try to stay calm. I would ask him what the problem is. He would explain it. We would then talk through what to do about it and I would walk him through handling the problem. Often this would mean he needed to ask for help or ask someone to do something for him. Sometimes it meant he needed to take a time-out and come back to his problem. Sometimes it meant changing activities.
We also adapt the environment to help him as much as possible. He gets warnings about transitioning before we go from one activity to the next. We keep a regular schedule. If it's a "free day," we make a list of what is happening today in the morning and follow our list as much as possible.
My kids see a counsellor, a wonderful young man who they think is the coolest dude ever, who teaches them anger management strategies. It is always fascinating to me to see what he's been working on with the kids and realize that so much of what we "neurotypical" types do to control our emotions is so totally taken for granted because we do it without thinking. Anyways, you might look into your area and see if there are any such folks doing anger management stuff with kids. Our counsellor specializes in working with kids on the spectrum, but has a substantial number of NT clients as well. Great skills for all kids to learn, frankly. :)
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Mama to DD14 and DS12, both born on MDC.
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