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Jordan08
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28 Mar 2012, 1:12 pm

Hello,
My son is 3 years old and has been diagnosed PDD-NOS. He is very bright, knows his alphabets, numbers 1-20, colors, shapes and speaks in 3-4 word sentences. The major problem I am having with him is his need to control everything. This is causing him to stress out and have meltdowns and it is also causing me a lot of stress. I'm not sure if this is an autism problem, or if this is just a toddler problem, but I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can help him with his controlling issues. Example - If i'm driving in the car with him, he tries to direct me to go the way he wants me to go. If I don't go the way he wants me to go, he will have a tantrum and it's not like he always knows where he is going. Sometimes I can figure out where he wants to go and then other times it's just random. If we are playing with his toys, he has to be the leader and I must do everything the way he wants me to do it. That's just a couple of examples, but there are many more. It's like he thinks the world revolves around him and I don't think he is doing it intentionally. I just think it's something he can't control. I feel so bad for him because I know if he would stop being so controlling, he would be less stressed. I just want to make his life less stressed, but how do you do it when they are so controlling and rigid. I don't like giving in to him, but sometimes I find myself doing what he wants just so he doesn't have a meltdown or tantrum. I just feel so bad for him. Is it a phase and for those of you who are on the spectrum, do you remember being like this when you were younger, if so, what did it feel like to you? Was it just something out of your control? What could someone have done for you to make it less stressful.



mntn13
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28 Mar 2012, 1:57 pm

"... he tries to direct me to go the way he wants me to go. If I don't go the way he wants me to go, he will have a tantrum and it's not like he always knows where he is going."
I may be wrong, but think all toddlers go through this kind of thing more or less.
- wow, anyway, I went through this. I can suggest what worked for me. Eventually the kiddo did have tantrums that got worse and worse. I would calmly pull over and stop. When she stopped freaking out, then we could go again. Worked like a charm. I have a hard enough time concentrating in traffic, and adding a screamer to it was not a do-able situation.
That toddler is now 19 and quite nice. :)

The 'leader' behavior as well: I clearly told her that I would play like that with her until the timer went ding!, (and it'd be set for 10 minutes), then mama got to go back to her painting, chores, whatever. That leader thing was, I must say one of the most patience-requiring play time activities ever.



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28 Mar 2012, 3:27 pm

Hi Jordan8! I agree with Mntn13. Pulling over until the tantrum is over is a great idea, because driving takes a lot of concentration. It's hard to drive safely if someone else in the car is freaking out. Using a timer for "leadership" time is really good too, as it lets the kid have his way for a while without really "giving in" to him. It turns it into a training and play activity instead. And when times up you each go on to something else. It's important for him to not be allowed to be the "boss" at this age, but letting him practice in a timed format is okay. It gives him an outlet for those assertive feelings.

Do pull over when he acts up during a drive. We will all be safer if you do. I was driving with our old rottie mix in the back seat once. I stopped at a light, and a man crossed the street in front of the car. It was like an explosion went off in the back seat when the dog saw the man and started barking. I actually screamed in startlement and in pain because I wasn't expecting the noise, and it was painfully loud in that confined space. I was really rattled. I am so glad we were stopped at a light at the time. On the plus side, I didn't have to worry about anyone trying to car jack the car with the dog along for the ride. :lol:


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Jordan08
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28 Mar 2012, 3:41 pm

Thank you both for your suggestions. It's funny because I never thought of pulling over when he has a tantrum. I usually just keep driving and the timer is a great idea. Sometimes it's best to hear ideas from different people because when your in it, you tend to not think of the obvious.



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28 Mar 2012, 3:45 pm

My suggestions are based on my memories of when I was his age (i was pretty controlling too)
and on the recent experience of babysitting my little cousin.

I would try involving him more in what you're doing : )
For example, when driving, explaining him where you're going, what are you going to do (with him) when you'll arrive. You said he tries to direct you to go where he wants to go, if he's able to remember routes/itineraries you can teach him (while driving) itineraries of places you often usually go to with him and then let him "direct" you later (of course correcting him if the route he chooses is wrong, explaining what was the right one).
When playing you can try asking him for explanations ("what is (insert name of toy) going to do now? Why did he do that? Does he(it ) want to eat/sleep/play with (name of another toy)?") so that he can still control the play but rather then ordering you what to do he is collaborating with you to play together; then you can also give him suggestions ("I think (name of the toy) would like to (...)." "Maybe (name of the toy) wants to go outside"), always asking for his opinion on the matter : )



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02 Apr 2012, 6:40 pm

Jordan08 wrote:
Hello,
My son is 3 years old and has been diagnosed PDD-NOS. He is very bright, knows his alphabets, numbers 1-20, colors, shapes and speaks in 3-4 word sentences. The major problem I am having with him is his need to control everything. This is causing him to stress out and have meltdowns and it is also causing me a lot of stress. I'm not sure if this is an autism problem, or if this is just a toddler problem, but I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can help him with his controlling issues. Example - If i'm driving in the car with him, he tries to direct me to go the way he wants me to go. If I don't go the way he wants me to go, he will have a tantrum and it's not like he always knows where he is going. Sometimes I can figure out where he wants to go and then other times it's just random. If we are playing with his toys, he has to be the leader and I must do everything the way he wants me to do it. That's just a couple of examples, but there are many more. It's like he thinks the world revolves around him and I don't think he is doing it intentionally. I just think it's something he can't control. I feel so bad for him because I know if he would stop being so controlling, he would be less stressed. I just want to make his life less stressed, but how do you do it when they are so controlling and rigid. I don't like giving in to him, but sometimes I find myself doing what he wants just so he doesn't have a meltdown or tantrum. I just feel so bad for him. Is it a phase and for those of you who are on the spectrum, do you remember being like this when you were younger, if so, what did it feel like to you? Was it just something out of your control? What could someone have done for you to make it less stressful.


If he is having a bunch of meltdowns, he probably has anxiety issues. This sounds a lot like my four-year-old son with Aspergers/OCD. Like his older brother with high-functioning classic autism, he takes 24 mg/day of Prozac and he takes Clonidine at night. Severe anxiety, perhaps manifesting as OCD symptoms [my younger son] or selective mutism [like my older son with social anxiety so fear that he was unable to talk at all in public], is often unable to be managed without medication, from what I have read. It will get better if stress levels are down and then it will get worse. Sometimes, the child with severe anxiety trains the parent to accommodate him and does not reach maximum functionality and independence.

An ABA therapist can also help with the behavior issues.

Here are some links that you might find useful:

http://www.freevideosforautistickids.co ... tions.html
http://www.freevideosforautistickids.co ... ation.html
http://www.freevideosforautistickids.co ... avior.html

Child psychiatrists and pediatric neurologists are good at diagnosing and treating anxiety issues in kids on the spectrum.


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JsDad183
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03 Apr 2012, 8:19 am

Wow, this subject really reminds me of what my little girl does (almost 3). I remeber somewhere around her second birthday we were driving in the car (wife, daughter, and I), and I put my hand on the back of my wifes seat. From the back seat I hear "Daddy, don't put your hand on mommas seat". I was shocked by what I heard, which happens way to often from what comes out of this little girls mouth. When I asked why it bothered her, she just repeated it and got angry until I removed my hand. I actually pulled the car over once, because I was now angered by this, which caused an argument between wife and I. My wife says I shouldn't do it, if I know it pisses her off. I disagree and say that the child should A; not be so concerned, and B; not be aloud to run the roost. This is just one of many instances which made me suspect that something was amiss in my little girls head. She has not been diagnosed or tested, because I am getting no support from anyone in my family. I just want a happy child, not for me, but for her. At 38 I know how tough life is, and noone needs anymore challenges than what we already face dailey. Good luck.



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03 Apr 2012, 9:15 am

Rigidity is a common problem with kids on the spectrum, although there are lots of toddlers who are very rigid (it's a developmental issue, so part of what happens is kids on the spectrum don't "grow out" of certain developmental stages.)

One of the techniques many of us use to help our kids orient themselves is a visual schedule: http://www.preschoolplaybook.com/2008/1 ... edule.html If your child understands things well, explain what you're going to do before you do it and what the steps will be, and if there's going to be a change, tell him so.

I liked this article a lot: http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/ ... utism.html



Jordan08
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03 Apr 2012, 11:06 am

momsparky- I think the visual schedule is a good idea. I was hesitant on doing this because my son has such a photogenic memory and sometimes telling him beforehand when something is going to happen gives him anxiety. I normally don't tell him when things are going to happen or change. I usually tell him at the last minute. This actually works better for him. I am going to start with a schedule for getting up in the mornings and getting on the school bus. This is one of our main problems and causes him a lot of stress in the mornings, which sometimes turn into meltdowns. I never say the word school bus in the mornings. This gives him anxiety. I only tell him the day of the week and he pretty much knows depending on the day that he has school. I am going to put the schedule in his bedroom for Monday through Saturday mornings and see if this helps him.
blondeambition - He doesn't have a lot of meltdowns, but I do believe he has anxiety issues. The last meltdown he had was on Saturday. I was going to make him french fries and he didn't want them. He wanted me take the fries out of the hot oil with my hands and put them back in the bag. Of course that wasn't possible, so he had a trantrum until the oil cooled down and I could remove them from the pan and put them back in the bag. So it's not a constant thing, but he does have a lot of control issues, or should I say rigidity issues i e the french fry episode.
ReBarbar - I am also going to try and involve him more in what I am doing when it comes to playing games. I not so sure about the car because he remembers routes/itineraries and that is the problem. If I turn in a direction that he thinks we shouldn't go, then he gets upset. I don't know if I can have him control me in that aspect and certainly my husband is dead set against it.
JsDad183 - Your daughter is so cute. This is something my son would say and we can laugh about it now, but once it is happening, it's not funny. I sometimes fall in the middle of these type of situations depending on the mood I am in. Sometimes I will be like your wife because I just don't want to hear the tantrum and sometimes I will be like yourself and don't care if he cries he needs to learn he can't control everything. Kids are funny.

Thanks everyone.



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03 Apr 2012, 12:33 pm

Jordan08 wrote:
momsparky- I think the visual schedule is a good idea. I was hesitant on doing this because my son has such a photogenic memory and sometimes telling him beforehand when something is going to happen gives him anxiety. I normally don't tell him when things are going to happen or change. I usually tell him at the last minute. This actually works better for him. I am going to start with a schedule for getting up in the mornings and getting on the school bus. This is one of our main problems and causes him a lot of stress in the mornings, which sometimes turn into meltdowns. I never say the word school bus in the mornings. This gives him anxiety. I only tell him the day of the week and he pretty much knows depending on the day that he has school. I am going to put the schedule in his bedroom for Monday through Saturday mornings and see if this helps him.
blondeambition - He doesn't have a lot of meltdowns, but I do believe he has anxiety issues. The last meltdown he had was on Saturday. I was going to make him french fries and he didn't want them. He wanted me take the fries out of the hot oil with my hands and put them back in the bag. Of course that wasn't possible, so he had a trantrum until the oil cooled down and I could remove them from the pan and put them back in the bag. So it's not a constant thing, but he does have a lot of control issues, or should I say rigidity issues i e the french fry episode.
ReBarbar - I am also going to try and involve him more in what I am doing when it comes to playing games. I not so sure about the car because he remembers routes/itineraries and that is the problem. If I turn in a direction that he thinks we shouldn't go, then he gets upset. I don't know if I can have him control me in that aspect and certainly my husband is dead set against it.
JsDad183 - Your daughter is so cute. This is something my son would say and we can laugh about it now, but once it is happening, it's not funny. I sometimes fall in the middle of these type of situations depending on the mood I am in. Sometimes I will be like your wife because I just don't want to hear the tantrum and sometimes I will be like yourself and don't care if he cries he needs to learn he can't control everything. Kids are funny.

Thanks everyone.


By the way, I totally agree with the visual schedule suggestion.

Some other helpful suggestions:

1. Plan ahead based upon known triggers of the child. For example, if you want to go out to eat at a certain restaurant, but crowds, noise, or having to wait sets the child off, go at a non-busy time and request a booth in a corner instead of a table right in front of the kitchen entrance.

2. Leave plenty of time to get places and to get things done. Rushing the child causes unneeded stress.

3. Know where you are going to go, how to get there, and what you will do before leaving the house and stick to the plan. Excessive time in the car can be stressful, either if the child wants to do the activity or fear it (eg. a doctor's appointment).

4. Don't tell your kids about an outing until you are finished getting ready and checked all of the details. If you tell them that you are going to the park, the child will want to do it immediately, expecially if you are not relying on a visual schedule and the child has no concept of time. You also don't want to tell the child that you are going to a certain place before you know the location, hours of operation, and price.

5. Bring stuff for the kids to do everywhere--picture books, Android pad with eBooks, coloring book and crayons, etc.

6. Bring earplugs everywhere if the child is sensitive to noise.

7. Don't let the child get overly tired, hungry, thirsty, or have to wait too long for a potty break.

8. Don't make outings too long and leave if the child starts showing signs of anxiety.

9. Don't yell at the child or try to reason with the child during the meltdown. Simply remove the child from the stressor and redirect to a more calming activity.

10. Teach the child about proper behavior using social stories and video modeling.

11. Try ABA (applied behavioral analysis) if it is available to you, particularly if social stories and video modeling have educated the child on correct behavior but not resulted in desired improvement.

12. Try to help your child without placing blame on the child for having anxiety issues. Having a chemical imbalance is not his or her fault.

13. Don't drag your child on unneccessary errands--shop online, have a spouse run errands, get stuff delivered, etc. I had a fun day shopping for women's clothing for the first time in years on Saturday--completely on-line. Normally, I have to go straight to the store where I want to buy something, take 5-10 minutes picking out items in my size, purchase them without trying them on, and leave.

14. Push your child to make gradual improvement and progress in behavior and everything else, but avoid unreasonable expectations.

15. Plan outings for early in the day when the child is well-rested, and don't have more than one big outing a day if transitions, noise, crowds, etc., are stressors.

16. Remember that all children's activities are not appropriate for your child. I keep having to tell my parents that my kids are not ready for a trip to Sea World.

17. Recognize signs that your child is getting stressed--tensing up, biting on clothing or his/her hand, looking around a lot, rocking, etc. When you see these things, it is time to go home or to give the child a break if he/she is already at home.

18. Children's DVDs and children's computer programs can be great anxiety busters and educational, too.

19. Make sure that your child knows that he/she is very loved. Say, "I love you," frequently and demonstrate it with your actions.

20. Never get into a verbal battle with your child and start trading names and insults. You must remain calm and act like the parent.

21. Try to move smoothly from one activity to the next at home and schedule plenty of breaks. For example, set up the art supplies before the children's video is over so that the child will not have to wait for you to find things and set them up. Don't call the child to dinner before the food is on the plate.

22. Do things with your child that you both enjoy.

23. Reward and praise good behavior. Perhaps promise a reward if the child finishes a task.

24. Make sure that your child has plenty to do that does not require the help of a parent. Both of my kids are very visual and hyperlexic, so we have a huge picture book library, including fiction, non-fiction, and picture dictionaries. Drawing supplies are also always available. We have bunches of toys, too. However, they are much better at using the books and drawing materials without the assistance of an adult.

25. Make sure that your child has plenty of buiding toys--Legos, Lincoln Logs, blocks, Tinker Toys, etc. Girls on the spectrum sometimes like making clothes for their dolls instead of playing pretend with them.

26. Toy horses with springs, rocking horses, swings, trampolenes, and jump-o-lenes (small inflatable bouncing toys) can help with sensory needs.

Anyway, trying to avoid anxiety has become second nature around here. There are probably many other things that I am not able to think of right now because I am sick today (and was yesterday, too, when I responded earlier).

There is also a lot of good information on my free website, www.freevideosforautistickids.com.


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www.freevideosforautistickids.com is my website with hundreds of links and thousands of educational videos for kids, parents and educators. Son with high-functioning classic autism, aged 7, and son with OCD/Aspergers, aged 4. I love my boys!


Last edited by blondeambition on 03 Apr 2012, 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jordan08
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03 Apr 2012, 12:42 pm

blondeambition- This is awesome.

Thank you.



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03 Apr 2012, 1:34 pm

Also, I find it is good to let my son son know that a given plan is subject to change if there is some sort of emergency. We naturally also attempt to manage uncertainty and change the best we can, but a child will have less stress if he knows he can handle some change if he has to.

My husband's cousin, whom my son adores, has a work schedule very subject to change and so sometimes has to cancel on us. My son used to cry and meltdown when he was your son's age, when this would happen. So we have gotten into a habit of saying what our plans are, but letting him know in advance that it is not 100% guaranteed. Repetition of this has helped, so he can handle surprises better.