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Jenbo

Need advice re sons behaviour - wanting to be first all the time

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Jenbo   

This is my first post on here so apologies if this is in the wrong place.

My son is 6.5 yeas old and was diagnosed with ASD aged 4.5 years old.

He's high functioning but since his little sister is getting older (she is now 3) some of his issues, namely being first, are getting worse. She copies his behaviour which adding to the problem. We have constant arguments about who is going first in and out of the front door. He cannot cope with not being in front walking to school so constantly runs off ahead. My daughter is also copying this behaviour which adds to his frustration. I feel like I am having to shout after him like some kind of fishwife as he runs off, with his head soley focused on being first ignoring my instructions. Making him hold my hand results in a meltdown and him trying to control how and where his sister is walking.

 

I've tried a social story with no effect, he flatly refuses to use any sort of reward chart for this. Most issues he is semi of flexible on but not this.

 

Does anyone else have any suggestions on how to deal with this behaviour?

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justine1   

Hi

 

Stick to the reward charts. I used to feel the same that "nothing works" but if you stick to it and maintain the same type of chart and same reward it does work. Example would be if you are going out you simply lay down the law before you leave, say to hi he can walk slightly ahead but must stop when you say so if he does not listen he will get time out when you get home and he won't be able to watch telly/play on console OR you could say when you are out he can chose a sweet, however he needs to walk there safely and if you walking back he has to do the same only when arriving home he can have the sweet/prize.

 

It is easy when tired and stressed just to give in and let him be, I know I been there,but the minute you re-lapse is the minute the inconsistency comes and takes over,everything will go out the window. I would emphasise the need to impliment a daily structure,visual timetable "now and next",explain where you going and how long he will be out(get a watch if he does not have one already) also explain what is expected of him when out.

 

Both my ASD boys run ahead/off, it is not really a problem as long as they do not bump into anyone or go into roads,they will stop when I say so. I would also say invest in a wrist strap,they have for older kids online. Take it with you and let him know before you leave that you will use it if he does not listen.

 

Another thing is to have same rules for him and his sister again it makes things more consistent and won't make him feel he is different or the naughty one. Hope it helps.

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chris54   

Reward charts never worked for us. For own son the idea that if he is "good" today he will get a reword at the end of the week or whatever, just didn't work. What did, does work to some extent is the taking away of something immediately, "Do your home work now or you will not be going on the computer tonight". If I said if you do you home work all week with no fuss you will get a reward at the weekend the homework would not get done. The reward is to distant a concept to work.

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justine1   

Thats what I meant to..the reward has to be immediate. But I think something visual is important to enforce it,like my son has the "good strip" which works as a reward chart in that he gets thumbs up for positive behaviour and thumbs down for negative behaviour. He will then get time i.e 5-10min doing what he likes or a sweet/sticker when he is good and he gets time taken away for the negative things. This was what was suggested and given to me by the ASD unit he attends and so it is something constant used at home and school.

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Jenbo   

I suggested in the social story a sticker for each time he does it (he's happily accepted these before) but he rejects the idea and says he doesn't want a sticker. I suggested a reward chart with him picking the reward, no go (this was successfully used for him not making a fuss and crying etc about going into school). Perhaps I will work on offering time on the iPad as his reard to see if that is enough of a motivation. Not holding my breath TBH.

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justine1   

I know what you saying but it should also be that he is sanctioned for the behaviour. So he can get a reward IF he is good and loses his time on the ipad or if he likes a certain telly programme he won't get to watch it, If he is not listening. Let him know first what is expected of him. He will eventually start doing as he is told when he loses his ipad time over and over again.

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justine1   

Also to add it does not always work and your son is still young. I started being more strict with sanctions and rewards when Sam was dx'd and that was 2 years ago,he is now starting to see that for every negative behaviour there will be a consequence,he is 8.5 yrs old. It is about being consistent and things "click" into place as they grow and mature.

Edited by justine1

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chris54   

Thats what I meant to..the reward has to be immediate. But I think something visual is important to enforce it,like my son has the "good strip" which works as a reward chart in that he gets thumbs up for positive behaviour and thumbs down for negative behaviour. He will then get time i.e 5-10min doing what he likes or a sweet/sticker when he is good and he gets time taken away for the negative things. This was what was suggested and given to me by the ASD unit he attends and so it is something constant used at home and school.

 

Right, that is not what I know as a reward chart. A reward chart as I know them is were you build up "Point"(Sticker or whatever) that lead to a reward at the end.

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justine1   

It is the same principle just on a shorter time span. So my son's are for each day not weekly,each day is a new day so we start again/fresh start. He is still aiming for a target,same as the chart,to get thumbs up for every activity/event/time slot through the day. The day is split into five sections which will coincide with his visual timetable,usually the "reward" time will be at the end of the day(at school this will be his golden time) so he will have maths,literacy etc with thumbs up/down for each and then get his golden time or lose some or all depending on how many thumbs down he has had.

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chris54   

So we are talking about the same thing.

When I say that they don't work for my son, I mean any reward/punishment has to be imitate, like literally at same time, later that same day don't work.

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justine1   

I know it may not work for everyone but this is what I use and its been used by my son's ASD unit for other children,on the whole its very effective. I would say in my case it works more because the school and I are using the same methods,I believe if its one thing at home and another at school its less effective.

 

I also think when a child is young as in the OP's case it can be beneficial to stick to one system rather than swapping/changing.

 

I just know from experience it is easy to say it does'nt work,I had already had a son before Sam and so I did the whole reward chart thing for a good 5 years before I needed to use one for Sam,however I was never consistent. If you sanction a child they will of course get angry either verbally or physically,then for peace or because you get stressed or tired you would give in to the child,even if you give in just one time out of many in a 7 day period you have just wasted your time.

 

As I say its just my own opinion and what works for me. My son's(all four of them) do kick off,don't always listen and are far from perfect, but the rules are always there and always consistent. It needs to be balanced and children need to know and understand the rules,no point in just putting up a chart saying "there you go" and then sanctioning/rewarding without any explanation. Having clear expectations when going out makes a big difference to. Previously going out was near impossible for us but now I tell them we are going to "X and Y and then Z we will be back at...., when we get home you can help me bake(or whatever they enjoy.)" It is not easy but it can work.

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chris54   

I'm not saying that reward charts don't work. They do. What I am saying is that my son put very little weight on some future event, compared to the now. We do not have any particular problems with his behavior, so not realy a problem. But the reward system they use at his school for good behavior, work, etc mean very little to him so it dose not generate any incentive..

Edited by chris54

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Sally44   

I think you need to do alot of repetitive work with your son about losing, about how other people lose, about pointing out when you are second or last.

 

Could you ask him what happens in his head [how does he feel - but this can be hard for them to verbalise] when he loses. If he can tell you, that will give you some insight into how it does affect him. Because often they get totally overwhelmed with emotions that they cannot always get under control quickly.

 

And although star charts and reward systems must be used, I think you also have to bear in mind that his difficulties are typical of his diagnosis. This is something neurologically based that is not going to disappear or be cured. You may get him to use more appropriate language, but his underlying feelings may remain the same.

 

That also brings onto the other behaviour you have used a reward chart for ie. crying and not wanting to go into school.

 

Again I would be very careful about behaviours we just try to instill into our children via reward systems when the underlying problem is not being addressed or dealt with. What you are teaching him is to keep a lid on his emotions, and he may achieve that for some time, but it will all come out some way or other now or later on.

 

Surely if your child is so unhappy that he is crying at the thought of going to school both the school and you need to be trying to work out what it is that is making him so unhappy.

 

The reason I say that is because my own son used to do the same thing. He became ill due to anxiety and refused school. He was out of school for nearly a year. He also developed OCD.

 

We had an educational tribunal last October, and we won a placement for him at an ASD specific independent school for children that are around average cognitive ability, but who are not coping in mainstream education.

 

Many of the behaviours he had then have now lessened. He does not refuse to go to school anymore. He is nearly attending full time now.

 

Two years ago I would never have thought my son would get so ill and refuse school, and likewise I would never have thought that having been out of school for a year, that a different placement could make such a difference to my son.

 

So, as useful as these strategies are for getting our children to comply and show appropriate behaviour I would advise that appropriate professionals are involved to give advice to school and to the home. This may fall under the remit of the Educational Psychologist or you may need to involve Clinical Psychology and/or CAHMS if things deteriorate or if he is having real problems with certain concepts etc.

 

And I think we need to start from a stand point that being on the spectrum does mean neurological differences. I am not saying let the child off the hook, or allow inacceptable behaviour. I think we need to try to get an understanding of what our children are thinking or experiencing as best we can. If a child can talk or explain then try to get that information out of them. Remember that they may have no concept that other people think or feel differently to them. They may already recognise that how they respond is different and that other kids treat them differently.

 

Your other child is also very young. But with my daughter I did talk to her about certain things my son found difficult and simply asked her not to do certain things that we knew would wind him up and he would not cope with. It is hard for siblings. You do have to make time for your daughter because she will pick up on the fact that you dedicate alot of your time and energy to your son - which you have to do. But make sure you also have some 1:1 time with her to do things she likes and to praise her and let her be the centre of attention. Otherwise you could get your daughter using behaviours that she sees gets your attention.

 

Which again brings you back to how you react to his behaviours.

 

Try to have a kind of plan, that you have talked through with your son about what will happen if he does x, y or z.

 

For example if my son came home from school in a grumpy or bad mood I would firstly acknowledge that to him [because he may not even know he is being grumpy]. I might mirror his expression and voice and say "I can see you are in a very bad mood - I think you need some time alone in your bedroom to calm down." That worked for us because he was getting taught what a grumpy face and voice sounded like. He could then connect his behaviour to a named feeling. He was told the way to deal with it was to have some time alone.

 

Later I would try to talk to him about it. Sometimes I would find out, other times I had no idea. And sending him to his room was being taught as a coping strategy, not a punishment. Because these overwhelmed and overloaded feelings are going to happen to him practically every day, and to be continually punished for feeling this way [which is typically autistic] is punishing him for being autistic, which he cannot help. And that continual punishment can cause low self esteem and low self confidence.

 

As your child grows up you will see that there are many many things he has not automatically picked up regarding language and social communication. You will find yourself having to teach very basic concepts over and over.

 

Only last night my 11 year old son was trying to tell his sister something. She is a typical 13 year old, and can be very hurtful and grumpy herself. She told him that she was not interested in what he was saying and that it was boring. I told her that that was a very rude thing to say. My son immediately picked up on that and asked "Is it rude not to listen to someone when they are talking to you?" I said "Yes it is rude."

 

He then turned to his sister and told her "that was very rude what you did". And being able to identify and say that makes him feel confident about himself. Imagine how it feels to be continually ignored or told you are boring or weird - and you have no idea if that is okay, or rude for other people to say that to you. My son does not know what behaviour other people show to him is acceptable - that puts him in an anxious place. He has told me that he cannot tell if other children [or adults] are his friends or enemies. That is a scary place to be in. It also means that he cannot judge or respond appropriately to how others behave towards him. He may think he is being teased or bullied when he isn't, or he may things people say or do to him that is unacceptable - simply because he does not get social interaction, facial expression, language [especially sarcastic] etc.

 

I pointed out to my daughter that we never talk to her like that, and that it was not acceptable. I know that my son can be boring, by talking too long on something of interest to him. But that is something to be worked in the future, which I know his new school will do.

 

That was a very black and white answer I gave to him. But I have made a mental note that in the future I need to point out to him when "he" does not listen to people when they are talking to him because he generally only acknowledges or engages in subjects of interest to him.

 

So there has to be alot of learning and repetitive learning for our children.

Edited by Sally44

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Sally44   

I also agree that rewards need to be in the "here and now", unless the child has a concept of working towards a goal.

 

My son is 11 and is only just starting to get this concept. But it is still hard for him to have to wait.

 

What we have found works for him is to buy him Yugioh cards. He is allowed the "immediate" satisfaction of being able to choose a card and place it in the shopping basket on-line. But I only pay for the basket contents once a week. So he is learning that he does have to wait.

 

I found with my son that IF there was a reward element to things that he obsessed over it and when it would happen to the extent that he never did anything other than keep asking when he was getting the reward! Using this on-line shopping basket allows him to update the contents, and even change a card if he decides he would rather have a different one [choosing is also a bit problem for him]. Sometimes the act of choosing the reward becomes a real difficulty in itself, and he needs to leave it and go upstairs to calm down and think about it later. So we do have to really think alot about what we are using as strategies and whether they can even become barriers in themselves.

 

But I also wanted to add that skills do come as they grow up. Sometimes we just have to wait for our children to mature a little more before we can even begin to try to teach a skill. Remember that emotionally, socially and from a speech and language point of view he is probably delayed [possibly by years] and disordered.

 

My son had a big problem with losing. This is better than it was some years ago, but still a major issue. But he is coping remarkably well with losing at Yugioh games, simply because the motivation to play the games is greater than the upset he experiences when he loses. However, in school, they have arranged that once a day a member of staff plays Yugioh with him and he gets the opportunity to win. His current class mate that he plays against has been a Yugioh fan for years and has thousands of cards!

Edited by Sally44

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