Son overeating and violence tips? pointers? help?

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TheBean
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08 Jul 2012, 4:46 am

My 7yo son keeps sneaking food. When I've asked certain Autism helplines or organisations I don't get a lot of useful advice if any. I mostly get a mother on the other end of the phone who has the opposite problem in that their child is a picky eater.

I am at the point where I want to padlock the pantry to stop how much he eats. In the car on the way home from the shops he will pick at the bags of groceries in the back of the car. In one day he can eat a whole bag of fruit - I don't buy junk food - or drink milk from the carton. He bleats at me that he is hungry almost every 10 mins even after he has just had lunch or already pinched something from the pantry. He will lose it when I say "No". If I try to hide things he will search them out.

An ignorant nincompoop didn't believe that my son has been diagnosed with Autism (because people only believe what Hollywood tells them) and reported me to social services for my son being overweight and loud. It was only confirmed by the child psych, but gee whizz I wish people would keep their ignorant noses out of other people's business.

Also as my son gets older and I'm not getting any stronger, how do you handle violence outbursts? A friend of mine said she has to lie on her son, holding his arms and legs still. My son tries to bite me when I have to restrain him. My brother is on the spectrum so I already had my suspicions as my son showed similar traits. My brother was born in the days before useful information was available - in the "refrigerator mother" days. I haven't had a lot of information given to me even from the child psych on dealing with meltdowns or violence in someone with Autism. The child psych knew how to diagnose but not much more than that - oddly. We live in the country so we can't just go somewhere else. I am hoping to get some advice from others who have experience and perhaps share what has worked for them.

My other child has special needs too and I am doing this as a single mother, with no family support. Love my kids enormously, I'm just exhausted though. He is finally toilet trained and stopped playing with his poo at least. Still a few accidents though but we're getting there.



Aharon
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08 Jul 2012, 5:04 am

I used to have terrible food cravings all the time until I eliminated wheat from my diet. My mood is much more stable, my stress threshold is higher, and I've lost 10 pounds in 3 months without even trying; I dont stuff myself like I used to. Read, Wheat Belly. It's amazing what genetically modified wheat is doing to people. I can't imagine how much more it impacts people on the spectrum.


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SilkySifaka
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08 Jul 2012, 5:45 am

Can I just check that you have ruled out Prader Willi Syndrome?

If so then it might be that eating is a comfort mechanism for your son. If there is another activity that he finds comforting perhaps you could encourage him to do that when he says he is hungry. Putting the food you do not want him to eat out of reach seems like a reasonable thing to do.



DoniiMann
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08 Jul 2012, 7:11 am

I find that when my diet sways towards high carbs, especially if I've been eating bread, then I get hungry easier than usual, and I'll snack all day and especially at night. There might also be a comfort issue. Depression.

However, when I keep the carbs lower, protein a little higher, then the hunger loses it's sharpness.

:evil: Wheat :evil:


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thewhitrbbit
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08 Jul 2012, 12:41 pm

Protein does digest more slowly so it might help.

Also, using pectin might help.



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08 Jul 2012, 2:53 pm

My son overeats as a form of sensory seeking. It helps if I let him chew sugarless gum to his heart's content. Interestingly enough, it also helps him focus better on things like reading. If he is not chewing gum and I have him read a chapter and tell me about it, I get random, unimportant statements like "There was a cat crossing the road" when the book has nothing to do with cats. If he is chewing gum, he is able to tell the story, not just spit back random tidbits.



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08 Jul 2012, 2:55 pm

I'd like to add that I am also a single mother and my family lives over a thousand miles away. I feel for you.



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08 Jul 2012, 5:19 pm

Is your son on any meds? Some medications can seriously affect a person's appetite and cause weight gain. I know you said that you live in an area where there aren't many options for doctors but the eating behavior you describe sounds pretty extreme and may warrant a trip to a specialist. What does your regular pediatrician say about it? He or she might be able to recommend a specialist.

As far as violent outbursts, I think the first and foremost thing is to identify the triggers that lead to the outbursts and then learn to avoid those things if possible. It can take a fair amount of detective work to figure these things out but you have to start somewhere. Next time he has an outburst, or meltdown as we often refer to them, try to trace back what happened prior to the meltdown. It is also important for your son to learn how to identify his own emotions so he can learn how to regulate them. One program that many people use is called How Does Your Engine Run? It teaches kids to recognize how they feel inside, if their "engine" is running hot or cold or just right. I've seen several variations on this theme, we use a speedometer that goes from 1 to 5 with 1 being calm and 5 being very angry. After about a year of working with this, DS (6 yo ASD) can tell us what his number is if he is happy or angry which is progress. Once the child can identify how they are feeling, then you can work on steps they can take to get himself to "just right" or calm when he is running hot or is angry. We haven't really gotten to the point yet where DS can make a good choice about what to do to calm down. It takes time. Is there an Occupational Therapist anywhere near you? We have gotten a tremendous amount of help from our OT.

One of the members here wrote a book that is available for free download http://asdstuff.com/grats.html and there is a Parenting Index stickied at the top of this forum that has links to lots of good topical discussions.



OliveOilMom
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09 Jul 2012, 8:35 am

My kids are all NT's but I have AS. I never was like that about food, but my youngest NT daughter somewhat is. She's overweight and wants to diet, knows she has a problem with portion control and snacking yet still gets furious when I tell her she can't have something, or a "good snack" isn't here. She will steal and hide food also.

What I've done is just make sure to only have the foods we are going to eat for the meals that day in the house. If there are no snacks, a kid won't be able to get them.

If the child is overweight, then it's not abusive or neglectful to not have snacks around. You aren't starving them.

My daughter, back when she was about ten and we first started on the diet thing, did not like it. She was very vocal about it. We had also just gotten some new neighbors and she had been over playing with their daughter. The dad came to our door the next day with a box of food and some cash that he tried to hand my husband. DH was very confused and asked what this was about. The man said that DD had told them that we don't have any food in our house and she's hungry. WTH!! She went that far to try and get snacks. I mentioned it to my next door neighbor whose daughter she plays with also. Both that mother and daughter are overweight. She had tried it with them too. The mom there told her "I know that's a lie! Not only do I know your parents but anybody can look at you and tell you aren't missing meals, you are like me and <her daughters name>. I feel what you mean, but I'm not giving you snacks!" and she didn't try that with her again.

I would truly suggest buying only what will be eaten in the next 24 hours. If you have to get some things in bulk, like cereal, etc, put them in the trunk of your car, not your bedroom.


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McAnulty
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09 Jul 2012, 1:49 pm

There are trainings you can take for proper restraint techniques. Lying on someone can cause asphyxiation, people have died being restrained that way. Maybe you can ask around for a proper class or you might find something online.
I wouldn't know about the food, I'm like those people on the helpline, we're dealing with the opposite problem.



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11 Jul 2012, 5:32 pm

My 7 yr old Aspie does the same thing with food. Drives me insane in the summer time when he is constantly going to the refrigerator every 10 minutes. I just try to always give him fruit as snacks. Thank goodness he loves fruit---I try not to buy a lot of junk food, but my son still has a big appetite. He eats as much as I do or more. So far, he is not overweight, but he is starting to get a little belly, so I am definitely keeping my eye on it. Sometimes I wonder if he is doing it out of boredom since he does not seem to have a lot of interests and does not really play with toys or with other kids. I have noticed that if I give him a protein with a carb, it seems to help some.

One thing I have wondered too is that I am sort of like that myself. I have a high metabolism though, and I have just learned to try and eat small amounts of food all through out the day to help with that. I think I have hypoglycemia because my blood sugar will drop suddenly, and I start to feel shaky. So that is also something to consider.

Wish I could help more, but I am still trying to figure it out.



momsparky
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11 Jul 2012, 10:09 pm

There are many threads collected in a sticky at the top, labeled "Parenting Index" - it does have a section on violent behavior. In my own experience, I found that restraining my son made it worse - we either send him to his room for solitude, or leave the room ourselves.

As for the eating, I've heard other parents here say they have to lock cabinets. I think it is probably an impulse control issue, but it might be worthwhile having a doctor check him out to make sure there isn't something else like acid reflux or some other problem causing the behavior.



TheBean
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12 Jul 2012, 8:25 pm

Thanks everyone for your feedback. Much appreciated. :)



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13 Jul 2012, 11:50 pm

My son also eats to much...I do think its a regulation issue! It got much worse since he has been using SSRI's! He also got a little belly now!
I try and buy things that doesnt contain much sugar or wheat......If my son doesnt eat regular he becomes very irritable and tearfull.....See if you can find any connection between his eating and aggressive outbursts.
Restraining only made things worse for us!! !! !
What helped was to apply the ideas we got from Dr Greens book...How to handle the explosive child.....So when he starts overreacting and seeking negative reaction we lower our voices.....lessen or avoid eye contact, ignore any negative words and tell him we cant interact with him when he is screaming.....Then the meltdown must just come and go.....VERY difficult and exausting....Sometimes lasting more than a hour! But lately the OT and ST did start helping and also mental maturity kicking in....So the meltdowns is less frequent and lasts shorter.....Pitty the psych cant help with cognitive behaviour therapy!?
Hang in there.....this isnt easy!


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14 Jul 2012, 1:40 am

Any child with behavioral issues and constant hunger should be evaluated for Prader Willis Syndrome, as another poster had suggested. The disorder does not always manifest in a way that easy to spot on clinical examination.

As another poster suggested, I would also look at any medications he might be on. In many instances, the medications can cause as many problems as thy try to solve. They are not designed for the personality and behavioral nuances of those on the spectrum. They are designed for depression or psychosis, depending on the medication.



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14 Jul 2012, 1:47 am

Chronos wrote:
Any child with behavioral issues and constant hunger should be evaluated for Prader Willis Syndrome, as another poster had suggested. The disorder does not always manifest in a way that easy to spot on clinical examination.

As another poster suggested, I would also look at any medications he might be on. In many instances, the medications can cause as many problems as thy try to solve. They are not designed for the personality and behavioral nuances of those on the spectrum. They are designed for depression or psychosis, depending on the medication.


Seizure meds too, my brother who was skinny his whole life (37) had one seizure and now needs to take seizure meds to continue driving, he gained so much weight so quickly I almost don't recognize him.