I never know what to do with my daughter

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triplemoon18
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03 Jun 2014, 10:03 am

I am really at a loss in what to do with my 13 year old aspergers daughter whose coping skills are those of a 2 year old and she can quickly get violent. The only advice seems to be to figure out her triggers and to avoid her meltdowns, but that is impossible. I would almost have to ask permission to do anything and everything to try and keep her happy.

When she gets upset, which happens almost daily, my daughter will attack her sister and start hitting her or lying on top of her and her sister cannot get away because she will pick the lock on her door and keep going back in, no matter how often I remove her from her room.

I have tried hiding with my NT daughter in my room with the door locked and she will kick the door down until the frame has split and one time I had to wake up my boyfriend to come let me out because the lock got jammed and I was stuck in my room.

I have tried putting her in her room to calm down and play her video games, but this enrages her more and she does not want to be alone.

I have tried to get her to go downstairs and be on a different floor from her sister and she will think I am pushing her down the stairs and attack me.

Yesterday, my daughter had a long day with a school soccer meet all day with her twin and they won gold medals for coming in first place. Of course this was just too much for her and she couldn't cope any more, so I got home and made sure she got her dinner in 5 minutes and made her sandwich for the next day and went for a walk with my NT daughter. We figured she was overwhelmed and would be happier unwinding alone because she was moaning and shrieking and I knew she would be physically lashing out soon.

So we went for a 2 hour walk and got home at 8:20 pm and it was still light out and good weather and she was enraged that we had left for so long. I reminded her that it was still light out and there was no reason to worry etc. and went to put my purchases away. She started chasing and hitting her sister and then trying to get into her room to get at her when I separated them. I took her to my room and pushed her to the ground to prevent her from going back to attack her sister. Well she freaked and punched me hard in the arms and chest and kicked me so hard in the crotch. I can see why her sister screams cuz it really hurt. Somehow the meltdown fizzled out soon after and she was able to cry and tell me that she was just so hot and couldn't find anything good to drink. I got a fan and put it on her in the living room and got her cold milk to drink and frozen berries to eat and it was all over. On the one hand, I feel glad that the meltdown lasted about 10 minutes and she stayed away from her sister when I told her to, but on the other hand, I feel bad that I had to push her down and I am afraid one of us is going to get hurt during these meltdowns.

I just have no hope of it getting better and sometimes wonder if I should call the police or for help when she gets like this. Had she punched me in the face as hard as she kicked me, I would have had a shiner or split skin. I am on the waiting list for ABA treatment, but that will take a year, so what am I supposed to do until then?

I cannot avoid her meltdowns because that would mean never blowing my nose or sniffing or eating too loud or seeing my boyfriend at his place or mine or watching tv with both my girls etc. It is a never ending battle to please her and we have been having so many melt downs lately. I think the hot and humid weather is making her worse.



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03 Jun 2014, 10:12 am

I'm usually not one to advocate pharmaceutical solutions, but I think you should look into it if the alternative is living in fear and/or danger. Maybe her doctor could prescribe something for anxiety, which would help her stay calm?



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03 Jun 2014, 10:36 am

It sounds like your daughter starts from such an extreme point of stress and overload that she has nothing left. When there that many triggers the triggers are most likely not the actual problem.

I am also curious as to what her real (and, most likely, complicated) feelings are about her sister, since the sister seems to bear the brunt of her meltdowns. The sister could either be the person she feels most safe with, OR a trigger by herself (perhaps some form of jealously). What does she think when your other daughter and you go out and do things like taking a walk without her? I completely get your logic on it, but does SHE? And even if she does intellectually, does she EMOTIONALLY?

Does your daughter work with a therapist at all? I think getting ALL her feelings out might be a place to start on that needle in a haystack process of mitigating stress and avoiding triggers.

Is your daughter taking any medication? If she is, it is possible that what she is taking is not appropriate for her. If she is not, you have to consider if medication might be helpful. I know medication is tricky and I've successfully avoided it all these years, but sometimes a child (and their family!) needs it so that they have a little space to breathe and figure things out, instead of having to live life as if someone is constantly running their nails down a chalkboard (which is, seriously, how many Aspies experience the world).


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03 Jun 2014, 10:37 am

I would hate to suggest this but you should look into sending her away because your safety and your other daughter's is very important. She needs to learn how to control those meltdowns or else she will be facing prison in the future if she assaults someone.


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mikassyna
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03 Jun 2014, 10:37 am

It sounds like your daughter has serious auditory sensitivities. Can you by chance give her some earphones to help muffle the sounds?

Hitting may have become a way of communicating for your daughter. She may not have the words to express that she wants attention from her sibling. Give her the words and remind her to "use (her) words, not (her) hands."

I just went to a workshop/presentation on anxiety in ASD kids, and the most important thing they expressed was the need to stay CALM. To ground yourself and breathe out the stress that's in your body (deep breathing/meditation, even while a meltdown is going on!), because ASD kids are huge stress sponges and pick it up in their environment. It is a vicious cycle, and they will act out more because intuitively they feel that they are causing more stress or something negative and subsequently react to that through negative behaviors. They sense it through the tension in your voice, your posture, your facial expressions, even if they don't look at you the muscles can affect how you pronounce your words. So find a way to calm yourself and it may have a filter-down effect to your children. I am starting to do it even a little, and it has already had a very positive result.

Good luck!! !



mikassyna
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03 Jun 2014, 10:42 am

P.S. DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DAUGHTER!
Her behaviors CAN get better over time.
Stay calm and explain to her not what NOT to do, but give her choices of what TO do when she is triggered. Give her the exact words to say. She also needs to identify WHEN she is feeling overloaded and verbally express that to you so you can help before she melts down. Explain to her that no matter how much you love her, you cannot read her mind. That if she doesn't say it OUT LOUD, you have no way of knowing. Because her thoughts are silent and do not transmit from her brain directly to yours. You may have to repeat this for months every day before it starts to sink in and form the proper connection.
I hope this helps a little...



Last edited by mikassyna on 03 Jun 2014, 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

DW_a_mom
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03 Jun 2014, 10:42 am

League_Girl wrote:
I would hate to suggest this but you should look into sending her away because your safety and your other daughter's is very important. She needs to learn how to control those meltdowns or else she will be facing prison in the future if she assaults someone.


The problem with that is it will be an irreversible decision, and one that will make things much worse for the child. From all the reading I've done on these forums, I know that pretty much no one has ever felt they benefited from residential treatment. It rocks and destroys their world, and they never forgive. It is truly a last resort, and I realize that only the parent can know if they've reached that point where there truly is no other choice.


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03 Jun 2014, 10:52 am

My mom threatened to send me away if I hit her again so I was forced to stop being violent. She claims it was a hard decision for her. She said safety comes first. It's not to get rid of your child, it's so they can get help and you are safe. It just sounds like to me the OP has tried everything and the daughter refuses because she has AS she thinks everyone has to put up with everything and she isn't obligated to change. That is using her AS as an excuse. Maybe if the OP threatens to send her away, she might stop like I did. Also my son was not violent at age two when he would get upset and neither were my brothers at age two so I find it hard to believe her violence has something to do with her coping as a two year old because if they can learn to stop it when taught through consequences, so can she.


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03 Jun 2014, 11:20 am

I understand the temptation in getting out of Dodge before the meltdown hits, but I think in your daughter's case it is problematic b/c she is so clingy (I am remembering your stories, right, I hope) and based on what I remember your posts, she does not like being alone. (I am not saying you and your daughter need to be her punching bag---just that her being alone to calm does not relax her.) I am guessing a big part of the problem is that you haven't found anything that will calm her at that point. To me that would be my biggest priority. It is the thing that is almost the hardest to give advice about b/c it is individual. I am going to list somethings in case you haven't already tried them. (Also please don't interpret this as me thinking it is fair that you have to go through all these hoops --I know it is a lot b/c I have to go through hoops, too. It is a matter of pragmatics until you can get more things sorted out and she acquires more skills)

Light gentle contact
Firm snuggles
(Some kids like light contact, some firm, some like none)

Confirm that all sensory stimuli are at optimal settings.(You mentioned hunger and being too hot as contributing factors)


Experimenting with sensory toys, things to chew on, differently scented objects, fidgets, music, activities or exercises or anything else that may help equalize her.

An OT might be of use here to see what the appropriate things might be. There will probably be different solutions for when she is understimulated vs. overstimulated.

There also may be some activities she just has to avoid if they rile her up too much, and she will have to wait until she can handle the stimulation levels better. We had that issue with a few things like shopping and that kind of thing with our son. We never enrolled him in very much, as it gets too much for him pretty quickly.


What struck me about your post is you could tell she was about to meltdown. (Which is very good) The question is does she? I know that with my son, (he is 8 and maybe emotionally 4) If he can catch it, he can try to fight it, now. When he was emotionally 2, he had trouble with that, still, but at least he was still small. trying to wrangle a 13 yr old, safely is next to impossible, so I feel for you.



triplemoon18
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03 Jun 2014, 11:23 am

Yippy Skippy - I am beginning to think she needs meds too, but she hates taking pills of any kind, except for melatonin for sleep, so this should be fun. I would like to see if the end of the school year is what is getting to her and if she calms down at all this summer without school. I know last summer she was awful, but this was pre-diagnosis and we also had the internet that could both entertain and piss her off, we no longer have the internet at home, so maybe this will be a good thing.

DW a mom - Yes she is really very extremely stressed so much of the time and easily gets overloaded. I know school has been incredibly busy with soccer practices and a meet, her gymnastics team, a puppet show they did for the primary schoolers, a movie night to raise money last Friday and an overnight school trip they leave for tomorrow and come back the day after. So I can see why she is totally overwhelmed. Also, everyone is really proud how good she has been doing at school for months and she wants to keep it that way - so we get the worst of her behaviours at home because she is trying to be perfect all day.

I wonder why her twin pisses her off so much, probably because she competes with her all day at school and they are together 24/7. They share most of their friends too and the friends notice how hard my aspie daughter is on her NT sister, always telling her what to do and criticizing her all day long. The NT twin is getting straight "A"s and I don't think this pleases her aspie twin. She actually was mad at her this weekend for working too hard on her book report. The constant competition is probably awful for both of them. And I am so thankful they will be in separate high schools next year. I am also thrilled she got into the aspergers program at school. She really needs their help. She was looking at their rules and one was "you are responsible for your own behaviours." and she said no we're not, people make us act the way we do. So having teachers constantly telling her the rules of life will be great for her.

She doesn't have a therapist, but has been seeing a school social worker every week for months. I have no idea if she finds him helpful or not because she never talks about him, - so she must like him enough or I would hear about it.

I am likely going to have to try medication over the summer if things don't calm down after the school year. I am worried about it getting worse or the side effects, but I have to do something.

Leaguegirl - I work in child protection, so she knows about parents sending their kids away. Actually, her father who is bipolar was sent away as a teen. She told me once that she was so glad that I wouldn't send her away like they did her dad. I would never want to do this because I feel she is still happiest with us. I just want things calmer in our household and to enjoy life more together. I feel that I bend over backwards to make like better for her and she just wants more.

Mikassyna - I did give her headphones and they broke, but we are getting new ones for tomorrow's school trip. It is hard to get her to use them to block out sound though, even though she needs them. It is like she will chew anything, but the toy I specifically bought for chewing. I know I should be calmer myself, but I tell you as a single mom with my twins, I lose patience at times. It is so hard to achieve harmony in my household, but I do sure try. I have actually learned a lot of patience through all of this.

The meltdowns are too quick to stop in time, but I have learnt that if I keep asking her why she is behaving like this, is there any thing I can to do help her, she will finally burst into tears, want a hug and tell me what it is. Yesterday she did this quickly, so we are making some progress. I just wish I could do it before she gets physical because by then, she can hardly hear you. And I find it hard to say that I love her and want to help her, when she looks like she wants to kill her sister and/or me.

League Girl - I think since her diagnosis, she does feel she is priveleged and can get away with things because of having aspergers. She knows we all try to help and accomodate her and she expects it. I also know she was easier when her older brother lived with us because at 19, he was like a father to her.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to put her in a group home where the professionals could deal with her and I could visit her a couple times of week, but really I wouldn't do it. Both my parents lived in foster homes and I can see it was not a good experience for them. Abandoning her will not help her. I just hope I can get some help for us soon.



mikassyna
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03 Jun 2014, 11:34 am

triplemoon18 wrote:
I wonder why her twin pisses her off so much, probably because she competes with her all day at school and they are together 24/7.


It could be frustration due to compromised theory of mind. I mean this is her twin. They look alike? They share the same birthday? It probably is confusing and frustrating why someone who is her twin doesn't feel the same exact things or act the same exact way as she does! I mean, WTF! Here is the person she is supposed to be the MOST connected with, but the connection is not there! The twin cannot read her mind, doesn't like all the same things and doesn't behave the same way, so how maddening must that be! It must be like looking at yourself in the mirror but the reflection has a mind of its own and starts walking in the other direction. It simply doesn't make sense!

That would be my guess.

triplemoon18 wrote:
She was looking at their rules and one was "you are responsible for your own behaviours." and she said no we're not, people make us act the way we do. So having teachers constantly telling her the rules of life will be great for her.


What she says is true and I can understand her perspective. Other people's behaviors DO cause a reaction. However, the missing part is that SHE has to make the choice to how she responds to others' behaviors. She can CHOOSE to not be aggressive to their rudeness. She can get mad without using her hands. She can ask you or someone else for help if she doesn't know the right words to say at the moment. It may be hard for her to think of alternate choices when she's in the thick of the moment; I know I have trouble myself. Practice will help, and role-playing scenarios so she can have more tools at her fingertips until it becomes easier for her.

Good luck!



triplemoon18
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03 Jun 2014, 11:38 am

ASD mommy - Yes we do run away from her at times and this makes me feel bad for her, but helps us to talk about it and go through it another day. We try to find the humour in the situation and the exercise is good for us too, especially for trying to be patient and calm.

Those are great ideas and we have found things that help like a chew toy, head phones, lots of video games, having her own cable tv in her room to watch the shows she likes. I also bribe her with candy to get chores done efficiently and we do our laudry together to help each other out. I really do try to think at all times how she will react to things. It has been difficult lately because she is just so overwhelmed all day.

She isn't into much contact, unless she asks for it, whether gentle or firm. I try to keep the place filled with snacks that are easy to get like yogourt and fruit and veggies and I can recognize when she it too hungry to get it herself and I will promptly make something. The heat I will keep an eye on because she will not think to open a window, put on a fan or even change into lighter clothing. You have to remind her to put on shorts. I don't think they have OTs for us cuz she is 13. Basically the ABA program is it.

The activities we keep a watch on too. I try to not bring her shopping unless necessary. She would rather I pick than her have to go look and choose. She did enjoy picking her dress for grad last week though and happily tried on a few until she found the right one. I let her stay home a lot because she is happier there, but I like to be out a lot in the summer and so does her sister, but I can see why she would feel left out when we leave her. The problem is when she is like this, really shrieking and moaning, her sister will scream at her to stop and then the hitting will start. It's easier to run away and sometimes we come home to a very happy girl who had a chance to calm herself down.

I think she does know a bit of the clues when she is melting down because when I came home, she actually told me how hungry she was and how she wanted supper right away.

So really I know things could be better, but they have gotten better since diagnosis in November. It is just playing detective and trying to find all of the clues to fix things. Other times, to be honest, I really resent all the extra work. I always found single motherhood was hard and have being doing it alone for 13 years, but trying to help her aspergers seems a full time job. I am so glad to have WP because everyone here has an idea what I am going through and are so supportive and helpful in trying to come up with solutions.



triplemoon18
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03 Jun 2014, 11:46 am

Mikassyna - actually her twin looks nothing like her. They both have long blond hair and blue eyes, but that is where the similarities end. They can be incredibly close and loving towards each other, so the bond is there. But her twin is also her greatest source of anger. She got mad at her on the weekend because she ate 4 pieces of raisin toast and started freaking on her about how would it look if her sister was obese. They are both tall and thin, but she really worries about her sister's eating habits.

I think you are right about her not liking that they are so different. It really does seem maddening to her. It must be weird for both of them to realize just how different they actually are with one being aspie and one being NT.

I have been trying to teach her about having a choice on how to respond, but it really hasn't sunk in. Or it does on some days and not others. It depends on what age she is acting at that moment.



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03 Jun 2014, 12:03 pm

I think right now you are most likely in the midst of the worst of it. It will literally take years to get to where you feel you can breath again, but I do believe you WILL get there. I can tell that you are slowly finding the keys, and now you have to find the right locks to put them into.

Very crucial to getting through this stage will be keeping YOURSELF sane and centered. I am not going to lie, you have a LOT of HARD work to do, but remember that it WILL make a difference; it CAN be done. So much will feel like one step forward, two steps back, but it really is all progress. Stay focused and determined, and when you feel your resolve wearing down, give yourself a break, make time for yourself.

Nothing beats that day you realize you've actually made it to the other side. It isn't like you suddenly have a child who never has or creates problems, but you do realize that your work paid off and your child (and your family) really is going to be OK. There is a lot of satisfaction and reward in that. Things were so up again down again for so many years that I hesitated to ever think we could ever really be on the other side, but that day did come. Hang in there. It is soooo very much worth it, believe me. I feel for you right now, I really do, I remember how hard it can be (and I had a husband, so I know it is MUCH more difficult for you), but I also believe in you AND your daughter.

I would see if you can find a therapist your daughter is comfortable with. And I would also consider cutting back on her schedule and activities: ASD kids usually need a LOT more down time than NT kids, and hopefully she can recognize that enough to agree to some cuts. Honestly, BOTH my kids (one ASD, one NT) would freak out if they had as much going on as your daughter does right now. Sometimes it can't be avoided, but if such a high level has persisted for a while, it will drain all their internal resources.

You may not be able to get OT through the school, but it could probably be arranged privately, btw. That could be worth investigating.


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mikassyna
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03 Jun 2014, 12:36 pm

triplemoon18 wrote:
Mikassyna - actually her twin looks nothing like her. They both have long blond hair and blue eyes, but that is where the similarities end. They can be incredibly close and loving towards each other, so the bond is there. But her twin is also her greatest source of anger. She got mad at her on the weekend because she ate 4 pieces of raisin toast and started freaking on her about how would it look if her sister was obese. They are both tall and thin, but she really worries about her sister's eating habits.

I think you are right about her not liking that they are so different. It really does seem maddening to her. It must be weird for both of them to realize just how different they actually are with one being aspie and one being NT.

I have been trying to teach her about having a choice on how to respond, but it really hasn't sunk in. Or it does on some days and not others. It depends on what age she is acting at that moment.


It could be the raisin toast triggered the whole fear that her twin possibly gaining weight would further the divide between them, if their looks diverged even greater. How terrifying that must be for her :-(



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03 Jun 2014, 12:57 pm

I am lost here. I was never the violent type and I honestly have no advice.
but I would like to say I feel enraged by the health system. How is it they diagnose a girl with aspergers and don't give her any treatment?? where do you live?