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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   Depression and other mental health difficulties are common amongst people on the autistic spectrum and their carers.   People who are affected by general mental health difficulties are encouraged to receive and share information, support and advice with other forum members, though it is important to point out that this exchange of information is generally based on personal experience and opinions, and is not a substitute for professional medical help.   There is a list of sources of mental health support here: <a href="http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=18801" target="_blank">Mental Health Resources link</a>   People may experience a more serious crisis with their mental health and need urgent medical assistance and advice. However well intentioned, this is not an area of support that the forum can or should be attempting to offer and we would urge members who are feeling at risk of self-harm or suicide to contact either their own GP/health centre, or if out of hours contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or to call emergency services 999.   We want to reassure members that they have our full support in offering and seeking advice and information on general mental health issues. Members asking for information in order to help a person in their care are seeking to empower both themselves and those they represent, and we would naturally welcome any such dialogue on the forum.   However, any posts which are deemed to contain inference of personal intent to self-harm and/or suicide will be removed from the forum and that person will be contacted via the pm system with advice on where to seek appropriate help.   In addition to the post being removed, if a forum member is deemed to indicate an immediate risk to themselves, and are unable to be contacted via the pm system, the moderating team will take steps to ensure that person's safety. This may involve breaking previous confidentiality agreements and/or contacting the emergency services on that person's behalf.   Sometimes posts referring to self-harm do not indicate an immediate risk, but they may contain material which others find inappropriate or distressing. This type of post will also be removed from the public forum at the moderator's/administrator's discretion, considering the forum user base as a whole.   If any member receives a PM indicating an immediate risk and is not in a position (or does not want) to intervene, they should forward the PM to the moderating team, who will deal with the disclosure in accordance with the above guidelines.   We trust all members will appreciate the reasoning behind these guidelines, and our intention to urge any member struggling with suicidal feelings to seek and receive approproiate support from trained and experienced professional resources.   The forum guidelines have been updated to reflect the above.   Regards,   The mod/admin team
sunworld

Parent to a newly diagnosed 10 year old boy

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sunworld   

Hi everyone,

 

I've come here seeking a little advice as I feel that we are currently floundering around in the dark a bit!

 

My ten year old son was recently diagnosed with Aspergers, and although we always knew he was a little quirky, the diagnosis hit us hard. We felt an enormous amount of guilt for not realising sooner, especially as I had been on the look out for ASD "symptoms" since he was a baby and saw nothing that concerned me.

 

The whole family is struggling to come to terms with everything and with the summer holidays, things are reaching very stressful levels. We have an eight year old son, too, who is dreadfully irritated by his brother (not giving him personal space and constantly going into his room to seemingly annoy him). At the moment, we are sometimes unsure whether he is just behaving badly or is behaving in the way he is due to Aspergers - for example, he's just spent three days with his grandparents and they reported that he was the model child. However, as soon as he came back to us, there has been a lot of "in your face", irritating behaviour.

 

I have read that some Aspergers kids can have an almost Jekyll and Hyde persona - and my son is definitely a different person at school than he is here - but how are they able to behave so well in some circumstances, and not others? Doesn't that show an element of control?

 

My son is what I would consider very high functioning - he is pretty good in social situations with other children, although a little shyer in strange adult company, he also maintains brilliant eye contact, and on the surface, I am sure most people would consider him unimpaired. But then there are glaring differences - his inability to read body language or facial expressions, unable to express his feelings, sometimes sheer lack of empathy for other's feelings, and his flapping, which he does whether he is happy or stressed!

 

We love our son. He's just our boy, and we want to help him in the best way we can. Could anyone help me in any way? I feel so guilty for getting frustrated with him - I think it is because we've spent the first ten years of his life understanding he was a little different, but now he's had a diagnosis, we are having to re-think everything we thought we knew about him. I feel a little lost, to be honest :unsure:

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Shnoing   

Some autistics are able to maintain a "facade" during the day (at school, at work, among strangers) and totally let go at home. The higher the stress level when "out", the more disturbing the actions when in "sheltered" surrounding.

 

Of course, you have to protect your younger son.

 

You may want to read:

 

 

Freaks, Geeks & Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence
by Luke Jackson
and:
George & Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism
by Charlotte Moore

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Livelife   

Now you have the diagnosis you need to take time to reflect on the situation and except that things will change as situations do and as he gets older. There is no right way to deal with a situation only the best way your able it took me years to come to that conclusion.

He will react to his environment and some of the things that are effecting him you may not be aware of so you need to try not to blame yourself even though as a parent you will feel that way when things go wrong for him or your family.

There is a line that defines Aspergers in behaviour something will be traits sometimes it will be related to anxiety and meltdowns others pure bad behaviour and it is difficult to know how to react.

I would advise keeping a diary of behaviour situations at the time who hes around and see if a pattern shows itself then knowing how he reacts you can create situations more suitable to his needs.

Its a method ive used with a certain level of success its not perfect but a small improvement is worthwhile, while there is no cure you have control over his environment and making it less stressful can only help.

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dgeorgea   

Hi Sunworld,

 

I know how you are feeling at the moment as we went through this when Aspergers was first mentioned when my daughter was 10 though she was 12 before we got the diagnosis.

 

First of all drop the guilt trip, it saps your energies and a piece of self indulgence you don't need and your children don't need. Diagnosis has not changed your son, but it can help guide and identify ways you can help your son.

 

Regarding your son's Jekyll and Hyde behaviour, the best way I have found describing this is imagine the worst day at work when you want to lash out either physically or verbally but cannot. You look forward to getting home to wind down but when you get home for whatever reason you cannot. Away from the confines of work and in the safety of your own home you are more likely to be snappy and express how you feel in ways you wouldn't at work. Now imagine this happening everyday but without the skills most adults have to cope or the skills to express yourself.

 

While you don't want to end up walking on eggshells around your son as he gets older you may need to make some changes around the home to make things less stressful for you all.

 

For example as the boys have their own bedrooms a simple rule like they are not allowed into the others bedroom without being invited. With our daughter when she was 10 we agreed that we would not enter her room without knocking first getting her permission to enter. This was important in establishing a safe area in our home and where she felt some control in her life. It also meant as she got older we were able to help her recognise when she was getting stressed and to take some time to calm down. Her behaviour was often bad when getting home from school and by allowing her to go straight to her room and listen to her music until she was ready to join us calmed life down a great deal and made things a lot easier.

 

Understanding what was going on also helped us to be far more relaxed in dealing with it. If she started to kick off I would send her to her room. Later on when she was an adult we talked about this, as she always found it amusing that to punish her I would send her to the room she wanted to be in as it had everything she wanted in there. As I told her it was not about punishing her, but giving her space to calm down. She always chose when to come out.

 

Once our stress levels went down hers began to become more manageable for us and she began to be less stressful around us.

 

One of the hardest things was to find where some of her challenging behaviour was coming from and finding the right way to deal with them. For example when she started making friends there was a rough patch where she was hitting her female friends as hard as she could on their arms. They tolerated it initially but it quickly started to annoy them. Fortunately one of them mentioned it to me and when i asked her about it she said it was what friends do and the boys do it all the time she was just joining in and they didn't mind. At that stage I knew trying to explain the differences would not work so spoke to her friends and explained why she was doing it and asked them to tell her they didn't like or enjoy it and girls don't do that sort of thing. It worked out well. The reason for picking up this behaviour was because it was obvious and as it made the other boys laugh she thought it was normal and part of being a friend.

 

If it helps I often describe finding out she had aspergers as stop seeing a child and discovering the individual. She was still the same person, it was us who had to change.

 

Its not always easy but worth the effort. One thing I used to worry about was her future. At the age of 22 she came out of uni with a first and new friends and has a job she enjoys. I have a couple of weeks off coming soon and she is taking me lazer tagging as I've never been. Personally I think it is to fulfil some childhood dreams of 'killing' me off. But then it can be good to realise some childhood dreams.

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sunworld   

Thank you for your responses, guys!

 

You are right, Dgeorgea - wallowing in guilt doesn't help anyone! But, it is normal to feel twinges when you have lived with a child for ten years and failed to see what is now glaringly obvious for us! I was also warmed hearing about your daughter - every now and again I catch myself wondering what his adulthood will be like - will he find a job he loves and have good friends, so it is always good to hear people who have been through it, and come out the other end!

 

With regards to going into his brother's room - he knows he shouldn't, but it doesn't stop him. I think he wants to reach out to his brother, and doesn't really know how to, so annoys him instead. Alternatively, a counsellor we have been seeing suggested that perhaps Harley expects his brother to be cross, and when he is, it makes him feel safer and calmer. We also tried talking to our youngest, who is a hot-head, and explaining that he needs to stay calm - we can usually steer Harley away and divert him by just a soft hand on his shoulder, and we've suggested he tries that (which isn't really working, either!).

 

Livelife - yes, that's exactly it. We have no idea if it is Aspergers or him being deliberately provocative and irritating, which makes any kind of punishment difficult and often futile.

 

The last week has probably been the hardest for us and then all of a sudden today he has been so calm all day - no flapping, no irritating behaviour, nothing. He attributes it to drinking green tea! Anyone else noticed that green tea has a calming effect on Aspergers?

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trekster   

How do you know that he is aware of how his behaviour is upsetting his brother? A sign on the door saying "(name of asperger son) only enter if (name of other son) gives permission when this door is locked" may resolve the problem. If hes expecting his brother to be cross then it sounds like he has a very negative view about himself. When people are cross at least we asperger folk are aware why they are cross so a way of trying to take control of an unpredictable situation.

 

i would give him the benefit of the doubt regarding whether he's upsetting his brother on purpose. What is his reason for upsetting his brother when his brother wishes to have his own time in his room?

 

Green tea may help with anxiety which can calm your son. For me i find avoiding gluten and dairy in my lifestyle and diet helps me to learn and stay calm and focussed in social situations. i was unable to learn social conventions effectively until i made serious permanent changes to my diet and lifestyle.

 

Asperger folk can keep up this mask of being ok and able to cope for only so long and then things go to pot often in a safe environment such as home,

 

Flapping can be a sign of excitement or a sign of distress hard to tell.

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sunworld   

Hi Trekster and thank you so much for your response! :)

 

No, you are right, we don't know how intentional his behaviour is and we most certainly give him the benefit of the doubt (much to his brother's chagrin!). He has told us that he thinks his brother likes it - "but he's smiling" is something he often says. As I mentioned, it is hard to switch from the mind-set of the last ten years that any behaviour is intentional, but we are working on it!

 

I wouldn't say he has a negative view about himself, but he gives very little away and certainly can't express his feelings without help. However, he is a happy boy and doesn't really go out of his way to upset people. I don't think Harley wants his brother to be cross, but feels calm when he reacts in a way Harley is expecting him to, does that make any sense? The sign sounds like a really good idea - one thing we are quickly finding out is that the things we take for granted often need literally spelling out for Harley. We started to write out a daily rota for him (get up at 8, have breakfast, have a shower, take the dog for a walk) and we were amazed at how much he referred to it - again, it is hard to switch from thinking "well, he should know to do those things" and understanding that he simply doesn't!

 

His flapping is both when he is happy and nervous, but seems predominantly when he is content. He has a "singing" that goes with it. When he is more nervous, the flapping is a little more agitated, but you are right, it is hard to differentiate.

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Shnoing   

... Her behaviour was often bad when getting home from school and by allowing her to go straight to her room and listen to her music until she was ready to join us calmed life down a great deal and made things a lot easier ...

That's exactly what my parents allowed me, luckily, to do some 33 years ago.

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sunworld   

We also do that with Harley - his room seems very comforting to him and seems able to relax and switch off there. He likes to surf the net and we are than happy to let him have that space!

 

Just wanted to give an update to Trekster: we implemented your sign idea and can't thank you enough! It's worked like a dream bar one occasion when Harley was very unsettled and went in anyway. However, when both is brother and I pointed out that he had gone in without permission, he was visibly regretful and hasn't done it since! This is where we struggle - understanding his mind-set rather reaching for our own - and why forums like this are invaluable!

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dgeorgea   

That's exactly what my parents allowed me, luckily, to do some 33 years ago.

 

It was probably the best thing we did, as she got older she would begin to recognise the signs for herself and take herself to her room.

 

There were times I was concerned she was spending too much time there, but most days she would choose to spend some time with us. I've separated from her mum now, but still spend a lot of time with her, and stay sometimes when her mum is away. Usually she spends a lot of time in her room, but there are times when she chooses to spend time with me talking about things, having a laugh, or just watching tv together and making comments about what we are watching. I love those times with her not least because I know she has chosen and wanted to spend that time with me. It is difficult to explain how much that means to me.

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sunworld   

Yes, at the moment, he definitely needs re-direction when he starts to become unsettled but an hour in his room can really settle him. There are times though when it is very hard to re-direct him because he is too distracted, but usually holding him close is often enough to calm him (thankfully he has always responded really well to a hug from mum!).

 

Yes, it is lovely to spend time with Harley - he likes to be close to me and he also loves it when we have a running commentary on what we are watching!

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