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ck2d
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27 Jun 2012, 10:10 am

It has been ages since I've been on here, so let me give a quick update.

I am a single parent of a 10 year old boy with autism spectrum disorder. He's about half way between Asperger's and autism. He has just been approved for Section 28 work, and will get 25 hours of one-on-one therapy starting next month, which is mind boggling. Even more so, after bringing in a lawyer from Disability Rights, the school district has finally realized that he is not just a discipline case and that their autism program is severely lacking, so they are hiring a teacher for autistic kids. Starting next year (he's the first one that's been identified, so there could be more kids added) he will be in his own classroom with a designated teacher and an ed tech. For the past few years he's been kicked out of class daily and has been taught by his ed tech, so this is a huge step up.

Here's the thing. On top of all these changes to his therapy and education, we just moved. And, smart kid that he is, he learns quickly how to push buttons when he is uncomfortable or doesn't get what he wants. His new thing is to be unbelieveably loud, because we're getting complaints. I mean, screaming, slamming doors, throwing things. It's awful. We're going to get thrown out. I'm at my wit's end.

I use the techniques in The Explosive Child. I just can't seem to catch him before he explodes lately. If you have any advice or words of encouragement, I would so appreciate it, you have no idea.

Thanks for listening!
Corrina



Valkyrie2012
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27 Jun 2012, 10:59 am

Hi Corrina -

Sometimes being loud doesn't even enter my head. Just last night I got shushed by my boss because I guess my volume was way too loud when speaking. I get shushed A LOT. I am almost 38 years old.

As for slamming doors and such - sometimes, I drop things incessantly because I don't apply enough pressure to hold it. Other times, I apply too much and I break it or knock it over etc... or slam it.. It is not intentional and can make me batty at times.

When I enter meltdown territory I am way loud, angry, not reasonable to talk to and until my 20's would throw things. But SOMETHING triggers a meltdown. My meltdowns usually come from unexpected change in my plans. Or when "trying" to adjust to a change in my schedule, rearrangement of furniture etc. So was your son fully on board with your recent move? If he wasn't (even though he may have thought he was, or even on one level excited about it) then he will be in meltdown territory until he adjusts... which can be awhile I am thinking.

My other issue is sensory. When I get overloaded be it too much information being tossed at me at once, lights, sounds, touch etc... I become a bear. Inflexible, aggressive and snappy.

A weighted blanket has been heaven to break me out of a meltdown. Maybe you should look into them?

http://www.weightedblanket.net/

I wish you the best.



Bombaloo
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27 Jun 2012, 11:26 am

Ideally, the Explosive Child methods should be employed when he is completely calm and a long enough time period after an episode has elapsed that he is willing to talk about it. I find that I have to wait several hours or sometimes a day after a particularly bad situation before I can approach DS and say something like, "I noticed that you got really angry at your brother yesterday afternoon, what's up with that?". A lot of times we don't get past this first step, however, his responses often provide me with more info about what his triggers are. From your brief description it sounds like you are in the same position I find myself in a lot where you need more info about what is setting him off. Dr. Greene would say that you need to keep trying to gather information (doing the Empathy Step) until you have an AH-HA moment. I would say that 9 out of 10 times I have tried this with DS, he has said something to me that has made a lightbulb go on! :) If your son has been treated as a discipline case by the school for a long time, he may have trouble trusting that adults really want to know and understand his feelings, i.e. that you aren't just going to do Plan A on him so making progress with the Empathy step may take a while. I hope this doesn't sound too harsh but if you have the mindset that he is purposefully trying to push your buttons when he doesn't get his way, you have kind of missed the point of Dr Greene's whole strategy. He says that Kids do well if they can. If they aren't doing well its because the skills they need to do well are lagging. In addition to his books, I have learned a lot from his website:
http://www.livesinthebalance.org



momsparky
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27 Jun 2012, 12:10 pm

We find that our son will get screamy if we push him beyond his capacity. Sounds like your lives just went in a direction that would be difficult for any autistic child: changed routine, changed environment, etc. It will take time for him to become accustomed to all the changes.

When we have reached this point with my son, I go out of my way to do two things: one, keep things as predictable as possible - find a routine, stick to it, make sure to clearly communicate every instance where things won't go as planned. The degree of screaminess dictates the degree of detail (for instance, in really stressful times, I might make a weekly menu plan and share it.) and two, limit verbal interactions as much as possible, especially for directions. I use text messages, email, whiteboards, signs, posters, whatever visual way to communicate that I can.

THEN we make up a family contract. I point out what we're doing to help, and then ask for his help with the specific behaviors - and providing a reasonable replacement behavior for every behavior that's causing problems.

For instance, this week, DS just got frustrated by the lack of structure during the summer and was responding to any request with yelling. We wrote him a letter with a "summer schedule," and after listing the routine plus all the ways he could earn game time, one point about behavior was:

Yelling, name calling, flat refusal takes 5 minutes off earned game time. You may respectfully disagree, or respectfully ask us to hear your point of view. (DS is able to understand what respectful disagreement is, otherwise we would spell this out further by providing scripts.)



ck2d
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27 Jun 2012, 12:17 pm

Okay, I guess I should clarify - my son knows how to push people's buttons when he wants to communicate something but just can't do it verbally. I'm just not picking it up quick enough to head off his meltdown.

I'm pretty sure his messed up schedule is a lot of the problem. Everything's new, and it's driving him crazy. I might try writing out a written schedule for him. At home, I literally haven't done that since he was in kindergarten, but it works at school.

Also in kindergarten, we tried the weighted blanket, but it didn't work so we stopped it. Hmm, maybe it's time to go back to the basics and cycle through them again, see if something works...



momsparky
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27 Jun 2012, 12:30 pm

ck2d wrote:
Hmm, maybe it's time to go back to the basics and cycle through them again, see if something works...


I find that when we suddenly lose ground, that is an excellent strategy, at least until we all get our bearings and can untangle the actual problem.

Just the other day, our therapist pointed out that we were verbally telling our son to go to his room when he was headed for a meltdown and handed us a "Cool it" card. We'd just spent time in an IEP meeting where we were directing the school staff to give written directions when he's stressed. D'oh!



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27 Jun 2012, 1:52 pm

Why does the cool it card help over telling him to go to his room? I'm new to this but my 5yo daughter is having very similar issues.



ck2d
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27 Jun 2012, 2:55 pm

For my son, if I give him direction when he's getting ramped up, he thinks I'm ordering him around, and it's like pouring gas on a fire. He hears telling him to do something (ordering him, in his mind) as a very aggressive act.

If I let him discover something on his own, he's usually okay with doing whatever needs to be done. For example, I never tell him to go wash his face. Instead, I'll say, look in the mirror, and then he'll wash it on his own.

My son uses hand signals, sign language actually, at school. I'll ask him if we could try it at home.



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27 Jun 2012, 3:24 pm

My son just doesn't process verbal language well, and when he's angry it makes him more frustrated and angrier - not uncommon in kids on the spectrum. We sometimes describe my son as having language as his second language. This is exacerbated by the fact that he's hyperverbal - he can TALK up a storm, but he isn't always taking in information (nor is he always offering the correct information verbally, but he sure seems like he knows what he's saying.)

Imagine it this way: you are a tourist with a phrasebook in a foreign country. You need to go to the bathroom. You ask for the bathroom, using your phrase book, and the person offers a barrage of the foreign language with no gestures. Frustrating? Yes.

In the same situation, somebody points at a door that has a toilet sign on it. Are you frustrated or grateful?