Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for anxious ASD 5 yo

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BronwynG
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10 Jan 2019, 4:04 pm

My 5 year old is a high functioning kid on the spectrum, he’s verbal and we’re able to have some short conversations with him thanks to the Speech Programming he’s been getting at school. However, he’s highly anxious, and it’s been getting worse recently. For example: all of the doors in our apartment must be closed at all times, including closets and cupboards. The toilet seat must be down and the light off in the bathroom. Every time you leave a room he shouts and asks if you have closed the door. He accidentally closed a door on his dad’s face as his dad was trying to leave a room, and he panics quite frequently if he thinks he might hear a loud sound. If I ever forget to close a door, or if he doesn’t get an answer fast enough he cries and gets very upset. He’s also really worried about bathroom stuff to the point that there can’t be clean diapers/wipes/diaper bags in his sight, ever, or he cries. I had to hide a figurine that my grandma gave me because he heard my sister say that it used to be in her bathroom. I’ve taken him to the doc and we’re getting a referral but I wanted to try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to try to help him deal. Does anyone have any experience doing CBT with an ASD kid? It’s almost impossible to get him to name his feelings. Any ASD adults have any advice or specific memories about what it was like being a highly anxious kid?



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10 Jan 2019, 11:13 pm

BronwynG wrote:
I’ve taken him to the doc and we’re getting a referral but I wanted to try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to try to help him deal. Does anyone have any experience doing CBT with an ASD kid? It’s almost impossible to get him to name his feelings. Any ASD adults have any advice or specific memories about what it was like being a highly anxious kid?
NO! NO! NO! Do NOT put your son's sanity into the hands of those butchers! :evil:

Family/pediatric therapy is the only career field in the world where a worker (if you could call them that) can:
* Mock and/or belittle a troubled child.
* Deliberately frustrate the kid by dangling a solution but not giving it.
* Pretend to be a child's friend, only to backstab the child later.
* Do it in such a way that no one knows it except the therapist and the child.
* Be praised for doing so.
* Sincerely believe they're being helpful.
* Laugh all the way to the bank, while the child cries himself to sleep.

Heck, not even juvie wardens have that luxury. Well, some of them may bully or abuse the underage inmates, but they know what they're doing. They don't believe it for a second to be helpful; they just do it out of laziness, apathy, or callousness. Pediatric therapists, on the other hand, actually believe that manipulation and deceit is helpful to a child, having been brainwashed by their therapy training and wrongful personal beliefs.

For example, if you take your child to a therapist, he/she will ask him: "How did this-and-that make you feel?" Being an aspie, your son might say "I don't know" or say something the therapist doesn't expect. Then, the therapist will say: "No, that's not what you felt. Try again." Or: "Don't lie to me! You do know." Since your son hasn't learned to lie yet (in order to give the therapist a "good" answer), he will be thrown off-kilter or pushed into a meltdown. The therapist, in turn, will label your son as "emotionally disturbed" or "immaturely developed" or something else equally inane. Which might affect his status with the national insurance. (It's still better than your insurance carrier raising your premiums, like in USA.)

I had to undergo therapy a child. It consisted of everything I mentioned above. Although, I was lucky: the worst of it happened when I was 12, not 5. Which meant I could console myself after abusive sessions by sneaking gulps of whiskey from my parents' fridge. A 5-year-old has no such luxury, obviously.

My only recommendation is for your son to see a medical doctor. Not a therapist, not an herbalist, not a faith healer, but someone with "M.D." after their last name, who can prescribe him anti-anxiety medications. "Talking about your feelings", a played out tactic in therapy, doesn't help. It doesn't cure anxiety, it only makes it worse. Well, in a perfect world, I'd say pour your son a teaspoon of whiskey (he doesn't need a whole gulp like a 12-year-old does). When I drank it, it lifted me out of my sadness in 10 seconds, something 2 years of therapy failed to achieve. But you'd go to jail for doing that. So a medical doctor is the next best alternative. Good luck!



cubedemon6073
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11 Jan 2019, 4:36 am

Aspie1, did you ever have a crash when you came down from Whiskey?



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11 Jan 2019, 7:56 am

cubedemon6073 wrote:
Aspie1, did you ever have a crash when you came down from Whiskey?
As an adult, I get hangovers, obviously. At 12, I don't remember. I never drank enough to have an actual hangover, just a gulp or two. So after experiencing joy that only heaven can compare to, I returned to my baseline when the alcohol wore off. So I felt sad again, but it wasn't a true crash where I felt worse than before. And knowing that I can feel joy anytime I want, just from drinking a gulp of liquor, made my general sadness feel less overwhelming. The only difficult part was finding the right moment to sneak alcohol, when my parents weren't looking or left me home alone.

Still, it's sad and disturbing that a therapist, of all people, caused a 12-year-old boy to turn to alcohol for comfort.



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11 Jan 2019, 1:12 pm

I'd mostly ignore aspie1 on this.
It can be helpful, but find a therapist with experience working with kids on the spectrum. Find someone who can use a flexible approach to it, and knows better than use a one size fits all formula.


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jimmy m
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11 Jan 2019, 1:53 pm

Traditional Therapy (such as CBT) treats stimming and repetitive behavior as something that must be corrected or suppressed.

Jason Lu, a member on this site wrote a book called "Eikona Bridge" that takes a different perspective. He views stimming and repetitive behavior as a child's way of telling you "This is my door to my world, please come on in!" Use stimming and repetitive behaviors as Archimedes' lever to teach children new vital skills. Repetitive behaviors will either subside, or allow you to teach you children further skills.

Jason has a son and daughter who both are now high functioning autistics. They were quite different as very young children. He describes his daughter as a visual thinker like Temple Grandin and his son as a video thinker. He developed his own unique training plan for his children and they are both on their way to integrating well into society. His son use to hug vacuum cleaners and would throw a fit anytime his wife tried to put the vacuum cleaner away in the closet.



BronwynG
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11 Jan 2019, 8:22 pm

Thanks for your input, everyone. His absolute favourite thing to do is sit and stim with his books and he’s so clearly happy when he’s doing that. It’s really sweet to see and we let him do that for as long as he wants to in his free time. The repetitive behaviours that I described above seem more anxious, I just haven’t quite figured out if they are compulsive or if he finds it calming. It just seems so different than the times when he is stimming with his hands or making me repeat phrases, where the behaviour seems soothing or fun.
That being said, I’m taking the advice I’ve gotten here and other places to heart and will proceed very carefully when thinking about CBT. A psychiatrist I asked about it seemed to think it might not be appropriate as he is young and autistic. The last thing I want him to do is make him feel even more stressed!



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12 Jan 2019, 10:21 am

Arganger wrote:
I'd mostly ignore aspie1 on this.
It can be helpful, but find a therapist with experience working with kids on the spectrum. Find someone who can use a flexible approach to it, and knows better than use a one size fits all formula.
You have no idea how fortunate you are not to have fallen into the hands of an emotional butcher! So be quiet! If I weren't childfree, and had a kid, I would never let him/her come within a mile of a therapist. Even if my kid has a problem with me, like I did with my parents, the therapist won't do jack! They'd just tilt their head, stare at the kid, and say "aww, you feel sad", which is basically rubbing the misfortune in the kid's face. I can do that myself for free.

BronwynG wrote:
That being said, I’m taking the advice I’ve gotten here and other places to heart and will proceed very carefully when thinking about CBT. A psychiatrist I asked about it seemed to think it might not be appropriate as he is young and autistic. The last thing I want him to do is make him feel even more stressed!
Good thinking. Stay away from therapists altogether, especially family therapists. Family therapists who say they like helping kids are like taxidermists who say they like working with animals. Another thing: "family" really means "parents". So their job is to help you raise your son, not help him feel less anxious; BIG difference. Take him to a medical doctor, pediatric or regular, and get him a prescription for anxiety. Because if you don't, he find will find his own when he gets older, if you know what I mean. I already said I used to sneak alcohol. I also used to make myself sick on purpose, so my parents would give me cough syrup and antihistamines. (Today's medications were reformulated, and no longer give an anxiety-blocking buzz they once gave.)

Pediatricians have their own flaws. They're outwardly kind and helpful, but they often try too hard, and come off as fake. Your son might either fail to notice it or not care in the first place, so don't worry too much about that part. Just wanted to give you a heads up, because aspie kids are incredibly more perceptive than NT adults give them credit for. Maybe warn your son that his doctor might act like a clown, and instruct him to react to it nonchalantly, like he'd react to, say, a person on crutches.



cubedemon6073
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12 Jan 2019, 3:04 pm

Aspie1, b4 my mom died she was on 6-8 psychiatric drugs. I really think they contributed to her death.



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12 Jan 2019, 3:53 pm

cubedemon6073 wrote:
Aspie1, b4 my mom died she was on 6-8 psychiatric drugs. I really think they contributed to her death.
I'm sorry for your loss. You have my sympathy.

Still, don't forget that I was never on 6--8 psychiatric drugs. I wanted just one drug, a little something for my sadness/depression. I tried asking my therapist for it, but she only blithely deflected my request. So I found my own "antidepressant". Which is ironic, because alcohol is technically a depressant. And making myself sick on purpose in order to get cold medications that had a low-level mind-altering effect (in the 90's, that is) was ingenious on my part.

My situation was also such that my family, both immediate and extended, was the main source of my sadness. Also my school, to a lesser extent. So anything short of "rehoming" me into a different family would be a paltry band-aid. (I picked up the word "rehome" from Animal Planet, after seeing a documentary on shelter pets.) However, I was being realistic. I knew beyond all doubt that my therapist would never consider it. My family's treatment of me didn't meet the legal definition of abuse. And she was working for my parents, not me, so she'd never do anything they wouldn't like, which includes "rehoming" me. Any appearance of her actually helping me was a false front for helping my parents raise me. So taking up alcohol was the best I could come up with for dealing with sadness.

Today's therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral or otherwise, does more harm than good. We do a passable job at adults' therapy, but kids' therapy isn't much different than "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and that goes tenfold for aspie kids. Until we come up with a radically new therapy method for actually helping kids, aspie or NT, any therapist who "helps kids" will continue to be equivalent to a taxidermist who "works with animals".



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14 Jan 2019, 3:16 am

I've removed everything from the point of it not being helpful any more.

eikonabridge, please stop with the condescending attitude towards the other parents.



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14 Jan 2019, 7:32 am

BronwynG wrote:
Thanks for your input, everyone. His absolute favourite thing to do is sit and stim with his books and he’s so clearly happy when he’s doing that. It’s really sweet to see and we let him do that for as long as he wants to in his free time. The repetitive behaviours that I described above seem more anxious, I just haven’t quite figured out if they are compulsive or if he finds it calming. It just seems so different than the times when he is stimming with his hands or making me repeat phrases, where the behaviour seems soothing or fun.
That being said, I’m taking the advice I’ve gotten here and other places to heart and will proceed very carefully when thinking about CBT. A psychiatrist I asked about it seemed to think it might not be appropriate as he is young and autistic. The last thing I want him to do is make him feel even more stressed!

You seem a good, considerate parent. I doubt any kind of behavioral therapy would really help an auxious autistic child. It may mask the symptoms but not solve the problems.
How is your communication? Can he open up to anybody?


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