completely Stuck and not sure what to do

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ellemenope
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31 Jan 2018, 2:04 am

I haven't visited these forums in a long while. HI
My son is 7, we live abroad and I'm homeschooling him. Over the years he has had limited social opportunities, I do what I can to try to get him involved in programs for autistic kids, extracurricular and activities and we get him out on the playground often etc. He has done some therapies and is now working with an educational therapist for "school readiness" and emotional/social skills.

He and I are miserable homeschooling together at this point. His younger sister (4 yo) started KG this year and he sees her making friends and doing the school stuff and he wants to go to school, so we are doing our best to work toward that goal but I just don't see it happening. Schools are not very inclusive here and if you can't keep up to a certain standard (not academically, but in terms of behaviour and social ability), you just can't go. This whole year we have been working on the things that he needs to achieve in order to meet the bare minimums for school and he is aware of what he needs to do. I think right now his self esteem is so low that he's basically given up and so he is just refusing to try in any way- at his sessions with the therapist for the past few weeks he has been throwing emotional fits (we see the same at home) about wanting to grow up and have his next birthday and be an adult, or saying that he's never going to grow up, lamenting that all he wants to do/can do is talk about science and a movie he loves (Ice Age). At home, he refuses to do his schoolwork and gives up at the slightest hint of difficult to the point that we are getting nothing done. At his outside activities, he is also an emotional wreck and give up on participating, is obstinate and emotional and ends up having us take him home.
His repetitive activities (drawing planets and the solar system, drawing and making models of anatomical systems, drawing specific marine animals, watching videos about all these topics and only speaking about these topics) have come more frequent to the point that he really doesn't do anything else.
It is clear to me that he is feeling stress and anxiety about taking the next steps, going to school, getting older and being left behind by the other kids, having difficulty making more effort to participate in outside activities etc. He wants to do these things so badly and he fully understands that he can't get to where he wants to be with his current MO. He is lonely, he wants to be around other kids, he is tired of being an outsider and wants to be a part of things. But now instead, he is moving backwards and retreating more into his own little world, just when we need him to start moving forward, and we are doing everything possible to help but it's all backfiring.
I just don't know what to do at this point. I can't make him choose to do things he needs to do. We try to encourage him and pump his self esteem, but the way things have deteriorated in his schoolwork, his outside activities and his behaviour makes that hard as he is also constantly getting negative feedback.
Maybe he is not ready to go to school, but he is miserable being at home and falling behind what the other kids are doing. I feel like if he doesn't take some steps now, he is going to give up completely. Yes he's only 7, I know, but the years go by quickly and we have been at a standstill for quite a while. It's not just that we want these things for him- I'm okay with homeschooling and doing my best to get him out in the world as much as possible for however long he needs that, but HE wants more.
Right now our days consist of- me trying to encourage him to keep at his schools work, my husband and I bringing him to his extracurricular activities and therapy and him giving up at every step and refusing then retreating into his repetitive hobbies/activities in which he is alone all the time.
I'm totally lost and feel close to giving up myself. :(
Any advice?



ASDMommyASDKid
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31 Jan 2018, 9:04 am

Hi, Ellemenope. I am glad you are back. I am sorry things are not going well.

The first thing I would do is scale back or re approach anything he is getting negative feedback on. If that means not grading things or scaling back what is done, that is where i would start. I know that theoretically will slow down his school readiness, but if he is not making any progress at the moment, then it should not have too much impact, in practice. I might even look into unschooling (child led learning), on a temporary basis, assuming he is not so depressed to do anything productive.

Normally, this is something I would handle in a very rational way, but I think he is so sad, it is going to be hard to have the reasoning come through. Here are the obvious points:

1) Not every place is designed for every person.
2) Every person is different.
3) School can handle sibling OK but cannot currently treat you with the appropriate amount of skill and respect and keep you safe.
4) They refuse to adapt and I cannot make them.
5) There are trade offs to everything sand yes, sibling gets to do fun things, but we do x, y, z that she cannot do at school.

If the main thing is that he wants friends, at some point you may have to be blunt and tell him it has nothing to do with age -- It has to do with reciprocity which he needs to work on etc.

I don't know if it will help, but what are the things the school requires of him, specifically, and would these things be enough to make him happy there. Just b/c he is allowed in school, does not mean he will be socially successful, which means that he could still be unhappy, there, too.



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31 Jan 2018, 12:11 pm

Sounds like you are spinning your wheels and not making forward progress with homeschooling. My advice is to put him in public school and spend your efforts in deprogramming the indoctrination. Most rural areas have more conservative teachers. Better yet, put him in in private school if you can. You need to study and make an action plan you can manage.


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DW_a_mom
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31 Jan 2018, 7:34 pm

I think more about your location might be helpful.

I have to say, I remember all too well the pattern you are describing, the one of an ASD child slowly shutting down and giving up. Gosh it will break one's heart watching that. For us, the diagnosis and IEP allowed it to reverse course, but I'm not sure what to recommend that might do the same for you.

I will say something major has to happen. You can't keep on the same pattern and expect it to change. Something in what you are doing and saying is not working for him. But ... what? What can be his lifeline, the thing to which he clings and finds his ability to soldier on when things get rough?

Does he know his diagnosis?


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AspieSingleDad
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31 Jan 2018, 10:49 pm

I think the main issue is that your daughter is going to regular school while your son feels left behind at home. Your daughter gets to socialize and play, etc. while your son can't participate. Not only is there the feeling of being left behind, he's being left behind by his little sister. I can see where his self esteem would suffer. My heart is breaking just reading your post, I feel bad for the kid.

Maybe you should try public school out for him but explain that if he behaves the same way he is at home, he'll be pulled from the school. Like you said, he's given up, and he needs a boost in his confidence. He needs to feel included. He needs hope.



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01 Feb 2018, 12:37 pm

Other thoughts:

I know your choices where you are are extremely limited. What if you immersed him in his special interests for a month or two? His sister won't get to do that, and if you make it seem like big boy project it might make him feel special in a big kid way, which he may need.



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01 Feb 2018, 3:16 pm

Ellemenope,

We raised three Asperger kids and found that they begin to turn the corner around 16-17 years old.

We homeschooled and found that state testing standards are so low that we did not have to do much in the way of seat work to meet all the standards.

We really encouraged reading. If your son is into space, he might enjoy science fiction. Some has adult content and be quite sleezy, but there is a fair amount of juvenile fiction. I would recommend;

Heinlein - Door into summer, Starman Jones, Have spacesuit will travel, and Citizen of the galaxy.

Niven and Gerold - Flying sorcerers.

Goodreads might be able to suggest more.

You might find his math skills can improve with something like the Kerbal space program (approx $25-30) they also have a free demo.

Your son has an internal mental processing structure he mostly constructed on his own. Like what a child would do, it is imperfect and can seem quite a hindrance. In 10 years he will be more able to repair and rebuild these mental constructs more for function and utility than for comfort and selfishness as children are inclined to do.

“Normality” is not something that you will be able to put him in. It is something he will be able to more closely approximate if he desires to do so when he has the ability. His resistance to your best intentions and resulting frustration for you both is not malicious, but the natural result of how he thinks and sees the world now. This will change and as it does, he will be more able to take intentional control of his life from a perspective that begins to extend past the selfishness of childhood.



jimmy m
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02 Jul 2018, 11:53 am

One of the ways that I helped my daughters was that my wife and I gave our children real life skills. Many Aspies prefer hands on experiences.

Every time an individual learns a new life task successfully, the individual becomes more confident, feels greater self worth and value, is better able to withstand non-constructive criticism and psychological abuse. Essentially, the individual is expanding their box.

Life tasks are normal tasks that individuals (such as parents) use in their normal life. Life skills can be almost anything. They can be making a scrambled egg, or making a sunny side up egg, or driving a nail into a board, changing a flat tire, washing the dishes, balancing a checkbook, using a cookbook, making cherry jubilee, ironing their clothes, fixing a broken dishwasher, answering the phone, unclogging a toilet, changing a light bulb, making a cup of coffee or grinding coffee beans by hand, coloring Easter eggs the old fashion way or finding Easter eggs buried inside or at the end of a movie, grinding grains of wheat to make flour and then using the flour to make a loaf of bread, creating a spreadsheet or sweeping a floor. These life skills can be a mundane or very intricate task. There are millions of life skills that can be learned. They can be outdoor survival skills taught in boy scouts or girl scouts. Every skill makes their armor a little bit stronger against psychological abuse. When my daughters stepped into the classroom for the first time; they had a thousand real life skills under their belt.


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