Got an answer wrong on his HW, so he hit himself?

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MomtoJoeJoe
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05 May 2012, 10:18 am

Hello all,

It has been so long since I have been on but something different happened the other day and I wanted some advice/help.

My son is in Kindergarten in a mainstream class. He is Dx Aspergers/Adhd. He usually does not make mistakes and is very bright.

Well, he got ONE answer wrong on ONE homework sheet the other day and when I picked him up from school his teacher told me that he got VERY upset that he had a note on his homework, the note just said you were supposed to circle the large crayon and x the small one, He circled and x'd the small one. His teacher is the sweetest woman and I know she was very comforting to him. But she said that he got so upset that he got it wrong that he started to cry a bit and ball his fist up. He then started hitting himself in the leg with a closed fist and hitting the paper.

He is normally very NON violent so this just surprised me. When I picked him up and his teacher started to tell me he got really upset again. He did the hit the leg thing in front of me and I told him that he doens't need to do that because everyone makes mistakes and you don't need to hit yourself! He was so mad that he told me "My teacher wants me to suck at school!"

Any advice? is this an aspie thing? Thanks everyone!! !! !! !!



momsparky
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05 May 2012, 12:07 pm

My son does this (he does have a history of violent behavior, since he was 3 years old.) He's a perfectionist - part of the rigidity of Aspergers, and also part of him feeling ashamed when his difference causes him to make mistakes (for instance, not understanding directions.)

Our house rules about violence apply to him, too. I don't really have a good answer in the moment (other than that I physically try to stop him and tell him he can't do that.) Afterwards, when he's calm, we try to deconstruct the situation and carefully go over that it's OK to make mistakes, mistakes are part of learning, etc. We are still working on getting this message through: DS kind of believes that you should be born with all the knowledge in your head.



bicentennialman
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05 May 2012, 12:13 pm

I'm sorry you and your son are going through that. :cry:

I used to get very angry and sometimes hit myself when I got something wrong in school, though for me it did not begin until I was an adolescent. To be honest, I am still very bad at dealing with my own mistakes; fear of failure is an ongoing struggle.

I didn't have trouble dealing with the idea that "everyone makes mistakes" and that I should be understanding and forgiving of others. What was upsetting to me was the fact that "I make mistakes," and it's always my choice first to decide how to respond when I realize I've made one.

I naturally look to others for cues as to when something is a mistake and when something is more serious-- a case of wrong done-- because the task of categorization can be confusing to my aspie mindset. (How can it be OK to put the wrong answer? It's wrong. If I'd studied harder/paid more attention....)

Developing the ability to tell oneself, "I made a mistake, and that's OK" is really difficult because I'm looking for someone else to reassure me that it really, truly is OK.

You can be that reassuring voice for your son, and help him build the confidence to be able to tell himself that it's OK to make a mistake.

(Please feel free to add to this, as I think this is only part of the answer.)



lostonearth35
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05 May 2012, 2:23 pm

I really hate to make stupid mistakes in front of other people, especially if it's at something I'm really good at. In fact I seem to make tons of mistakes when people are watching and naturally do everything perfectly when alone. I didn't used to do it as a kid but sometimes when I get EXTREMELY angry and frustrated I punch and hit myself until I get bruises all over my arms and legs. I very seldom do it now, but around the time of my diagnosis and was still living in a home I had so many bruises on my arms other people started to notice and I didn't want them to think I was a victim of abuse but I didn't want them to know I did it to myself on purpose, either. They would think I needed to be locked up in the hospital (again). You hear a lot about "self-cutting", but never "self-bruising". I have no desire to cut myself and bleed!



cubedemon6073
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07 May 2012, 5:36 pm

momsparky wrote:
My son does this (he does have a history of violent behavior, since he was 3 years old.) He's a perfectionist - part of the rigidity of Aspergers, and also part of him feeling ashamed when his difference causes him to make mistakes (for instance, not understanding directions.)

Our house rules about violence apply to him, too. I don't really have a good answer in the moment (other than that I physically try to stop him and tell him he can't do that.) Afterwards, when he's calm, we try to deconstruct the situation and carefully go over that it's OK to make mistakes, mistakes are part of learning, etc. We are still working on getting this message through: DS kind of believes that you should be born with all the knowledge in your head.


Sometimes it seems like some people are born with knowledge in their head but when you probe further and ask questions they don't know as much as you think and as they think they do as well. I believe what happens is people pretend to know a lot more than they really and put on an act. Sometimes I can feel ashamed as well so I understand but it is ok not to know everything. It is ok to make mistakes because none of us knows everything.

I would ask your DS if you truly could know everything would we have knowledge about knowledge that we did not know?



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15 May 2012, 3:54 pm

I think the differentiation between acceptable and unacceptable amounts of mistakes, as well as between minor and major mistakes, is so difficult for people on the autism spectrum that they take the "safe" course of action and blow up over one mistake.

If you get one answer wrong on a test, you will still get an A on the test, and if that's the only mistake you make all semester you will have an A, or even an A+ in the class still!

However, if you're getting half the answers wrong all the time, you will likely fail the class, which could mean anything from being held back a grade (high school and earlier) to having to retake the class (college) to having your GPA significantly damaged (middle school onwards.)

Likewise, yelling at someone is a minor mistake. Killing someone is such a huge mistake that (a) the life of an innocent person is ended, and (b) you will likely go to prison for the rest of your life.

And don't even get me started on medium-size or medium-frequency mistakes... I still struggle to deal with those.


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thancock760
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15 May 2012, 6:51 pm

My son has a long history of hitting himself. I am new to this whole site today, your post is the first I have read. My son is 10, diagnosed with ADHD in 2nd grade, and then this past week we recieved the formal Apserger diagnosis. While I am not educated in enough in anything at the moment, I can say I have dealt with this behavior many many times. My son will hit himself in the face. This happens when he is upset, doesn't want to do something, makes a mistake, is overly excited. As we normally do, when he becomes overly emotional, we will intercede to defuse the situation before the behavior occurs. We see several doctors on a regular basis now, and this is for sure on the top of the list of behaviors where we need help. While I know this doesn't offer any help, you are not alone.



noequation
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21 May 2012, 11:52 pm

My son, age 11, diagnosed with Aspergers in '09, started hitting himself in the past few months. When confronted about why he'd shown negligence in some skill he'd already mastered (laundry, dishes, etc.), he would pound himself on the forehead repeatedly, and yell, "Because I'm stupid, I'm stupid, I'm stupid...". It came up once or twice at school, too, to the point where his teachers had to restrain him.

We talked with him about what "child abuse" was, and-- trusting soul that he is-- the concept horrified him. Then we talked about the idea that allowing him to hurt himself was the same as child abuse. It really bothered him. It's cut down on the behavior, but not completely eliminated it. He'll still hit himself in moments of high stress. It's a scary show of violence, from somebody who has normally been non-violent.

We've always been a pacifist household, but-- in his words-- he wants "to punish himself". I'd appreciate any help from people have been through this...



momsparky
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22 May 2012, 9:05 am

We have had a very similar situation with my son (and we still haven't conquered it) but our way of handling it is rules-based: the house rule is "no angry touching" and it extends to my son, too. I usually intervene and put my own hand between his and his head. It's pretty scary, but I've found that he typically does not do himself actual harm, so I try to be calm about it.

I think this is a slow learning curve, but my guess about the mechanics in my own child are this: DS has difficulty labeling and expressing his emotions, particularly when they are complex negative emotions involving, say, anger and shame or frustration and disappointment. He doesn't have a way to express them appropriately. In these situations, he tends to catastrophize whatever it is that's going wrong (so, the dog yelping because he accidentally stepped on its paw in his mind equals he is a horrible human being unworthy of having pets. It's crushing to watch.) He also defaults to very rigid black-and-white thinking, especially when stressed out - and in that mode, "stupid" or "bad" equals punishment.

I think this behavior is born out of not knowing what else to do...and it's difficult to build social stories about situations that happen rarely and suddenly, but I suppose that's what we'll try next.



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22 May 2012, 12:48 pm

I used to do the same sorts of things.

Smack myself for wrong answers, for mistakes, for making a fool of myself.

I knew if I failed the driver's test once, I'd never take it again. Learning to parallel park, I punched myself in the face every time I hit a barrel. I gave myself multiple black eyes, but I bet I can parallel park a box truck :roll:.

Claw chunks out of my arms for social mistakes, or for crying in public.

Punch myself in the legs and stomach for getting in fights with my husband.

Hit myself in the head with pots for burning food.

Used to?? It's gotten much better over the years, but I still do it. I really can't tell you why. Some of it's an anxiety thing, I guess. Some of it is loss of temper and lack of the ability to self-soothe. Some of it's self-hate, but that's learned and I'd have a hard time believing a kindergartener could have already learned to hate themselves.

About all I have to offer you is *hugs*.

Because I'm going to s**t myself the first time I see one of my kids duplicate my behavior.


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MomtoJoeJoe
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25 May 2012, 5:37 pm

Thank you so much for ALL of your answers. He has not done it again but I am always keeping an eye out. Everyday is something new.

Lots of love to everyone!



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25 May 2012, 9:26 pm

Maybe they should say sorry.
And your swearing.
Bully maybe also.


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