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Ok, my dd has never had a diagnosis for anything but I’ve often wondered about aspergers/autism/adhd at low levels. I won’t go in to signs and symptoms now as even if we pushed for a diagnosis we wouldn’t get one as she only displays any of it at home with only us there.

Anyway, tonight, she repeatedly punched her 9yr old brother because he pushed her out the way. Ok, he shouldn’t have pushed her but it was a gentle shove and she flipped and punched him in the chest 3 times. After lots of upset/shouting/crying we all calmed down and chatted about it and she said that it was an automatic reaction and she did it before she had time to think about it.

This is something that doesn’t happen regularly but does happen and the older she’s getting (she’s 11), the more difficult we’re finding it to deal with. She cannot physically cope with punishments such as taking privileges away. It just doesn’t work. She doesn’t “get” it and it will result in total trauma on her part. (If you’ve ever read Highly Sensitive Child I think it says in there that HSCs don’t cope well with punishments and need something more gentle which is what we try and do… ) but its getting hard. She’s almost 12. She KNOWS it’s NOT ok to be violent. But if she actually thought about it she wouldn’t do it! It’s because its an automatic reaction that she can’t control.

My poor little boy (middle one - 9) gets it all the time. It’s ONLY him that gets it from her (we have our theories on that one - but that’s another post).

The main thing we need help with is how on earth do we deal with her behaviour - mainly her violence towards her younger brother.

I don’t really think that I have much to say that will help but didn’t want to read and run. My DS who is 9 has Asperger’s and ADHD and sensory issues and we have had a LOT of trouble with him lashing out when something pushes his buttons. He doesn’t do it so much these days, in fact very rarely, but it has taken literally years of constant consistent vigilance and response on my part to get across to him firstly that this is NOT acceptable. That was the first hurdle, he used to genuinely think that if someone annoyed him then he was fully justified in hitting them. After we got him to realise that it wasn’t right, we emphasised that we were trying to help him by stopping him doing this as people would not like him if he was violent and he wouldn’t be welcome places and we wouldn’t be able to take him places and therefore he would miss out. Not as punishment, just as natural consequences. Then we explained that once he was 10, if he hit someone he could be arrested for assault and explained all around that. Then we spent literally hours trying to find alterantive ways of dealing with his feelings and teaching him to be able to stop for just those vital seconds to be able to rethink his behaviour. Nowadays, he can usually walk away and take himself off somewhere alone to regain control, he has some coping strategies in place, such as using his DS for a bit. But, despite entirely understanding what you say about gentle methods as harsh punishments can destroy a HSC and be counterproductive, I would say from my experience that you do have to come down hard (but not necessarily harshly) on an ASD boy (don’t know about giurls), as they can interpret gentle response as ambiguous or they just don’t notice it, or think it can’t be very imprtant. I ahve found that very very definite boundaries, removing him from the situation and really underlining that what he did was not acceptable, and being quite heavy handed about it, has finally got through to him after a very long haul.

That probably won’t be much help as it is very personal to our experience and our particular child, but just thought I’d give you my story! Also, books have been useful to us. My DS will take notice of books where he won’t take notice of me, so books like ‘Take The Grr Out of Anger’ and ‘The Survival Guide for Kids with ASD’ have helped him to realise that it’s not just me nagging at him, the things he does really are cpnsidered unacceptable.

Hope you find something to help! xx

Liz grin x

Druid, boat-dwelling, home educating mum of DD1 (11), Aspie DS (9) and baby DD2 (2), & part-time step-mum to 2 stepdaughters, 9 and 7.

No ‘conditions’ here, but oh I know what it is like- 9yo DS1 recently has taken to immediately thumping/kicking/slapping younger brother whenever he is annoying him. We get explanations like ‘he deserved it’ and ‘he was asking for it’ etc.
It is snap reaction, but becoming a habit. DH had a strong but quiet word this weekend and actually he has been better last couple of days. Again, he would never do this to any other child, it is just here at home to his brother.
We had years of violent tantrums at home towards DH and me from him when he was younger, but that is now a phase he seems to be out of (we also did the ‘you are old enough for this to be assault/police’ etc route and that helps, talking about involving outside people made him realise we are not going to hide at home and put up with it- even though we didn’t have any real plans to get external help.).

There is a book I have not read properly called Non-Violent Resistance or something like that, which also uses the technique of bringing in outside people/person which can work it seems- they are probably not proud of what they are doing and making them face up to what they are doing to an external person can break the cycle. Can be a friend/neighbour/relative etc- just someone outside the home, brings a different perspective to the situation and highlights it is not ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ to behave that way.

Thank you both. I slowly typed out a big reply on my phone and then it all disappeared!! Grrr!! So I’ll try again!

Books could help providing they’re not aimed at ASD kids as she would be mortified to find out I suspected she was ASD/ADHD. Bringing in an outside person I think would possibly do more harm than good as she isn’t great with other adults hence why we didn’t pursue outside help from the school nurse when she was getting over her huge anxiety period a couple of years ago.

We do have boundaries and we do have consequences but you have to pick them carefully we dd as if you take away, say, her screen time or her pocket money she has a total meltdown and cowers in the corner sobbing uncontrollably/hysterically as if someone has just died or someone is trying to kill her (has also been known to scream “help”, “Don’t touch me!” when we’re nowhere near here and have just sent her up to her room!) and is so traumatised for hours (literally, hours) and once its over and she’s finally calmed down (will only calm down if I - and only I - sit and talk with her about nice things) she will then have no idea what you’re talking about when you ask her about why she totally flipped out. She has no recollection when she gets to that “Losing control” point - which she will get to (without fail - has never NOT lost control) when she has what she sees as an unfair punishment…even when its not actually a punishment (once she missed out on a trip out to the skate park because she messed around so much we missed the time slot that we had booked…out of our control but was due to her actions of not getting ready in time)... it took hours to calm her down and then she didn’t really remember the totally freaking out. It’s like she shuts off into her own little world. Because of this, we try and be more gentle with out approach - but, like I said, it’s getting more difficult the older shes getting because she KNOWS not to punch her brother. She absolutely cannot be doing it as her punches are getting harder. We have spoken about her being in trouble with the police and also it could make social services think its us who is hurting him and not her and she totally agrees and is sorry and says she can’t help it but she’ll try and not do it next time….but then it happens again.

It happens probably every couple of weeks - possibly more often out of our sight although ds doesn’t say and he normally tells on her TOO much (she just looked at me in a funny way!! Type of moans!) so I don’t think it happens any more often. And sometimes its not that hard - but that’s not really the point. The point is DON’T DO IT!

I just don’t know what to do immediately after/during her attacks which gets the message across without her going into full blown trauma which lasts for hours and exhausts all of us!!

This is really familiar - although my dd1 was being violent with dh and I - her siblings are much younger than her so she’s more gentle with them. I would really recommend CAMHs - We’ve been seeing a fantastic therapist for a couple of months now, after an initial meeting last year to discuss how they could help us, and it’s been absolutely fantastic. One of the things that really helped was her hearing someone else, unrelated and uninvolved in the situation, telling her that violence was totally unacceptable and telling us that we must call the police if it happened rather than attempt to deal with it ourselves. Obviously that sounds horrific, and we all felt a bit shocked by it, but it hit home somehow and she has only had one violent episode in ten months now - they used to be every night. I put off contacting anyone about it for such a long time as I wanted us to sort it out ourselves, but actually it’s been brilliant to show our dd1 how much we care about putting time and effort into helping her to feel better about herself and make things right for her - she does get very jealous of our younger ones so it’s been very important for her to see a visible investment of our time etc.

Anyway, I’d really recommend speaking to CAMHS, a gp, a counsellor, just anyone outside of the situation, really xx

tried the camhs route when she was having severe anxiety and depression as well as violence. saw numerous doctors, most of whom told us she was putting it on. finally got a gp who referred her but got refused on grounds that her problems didn’t warrent their services. so doubt they’d bother with beating up a sibling! sadly i have no faith in our local childrens services due to various reasons including that.

That’s terrible - how can services vary so widely across different areas?! I did flag up our concerns re: ADHD and OCD and mention that I felt dd1 was at risk of hurting herself, so I guess that may have made them take us more seriously at first - dd1 doesn’t come across as having any issues at all so I think they did wonder what we were doing there initially! But you can self refer in our area so I guess it’s just a different system. Sorry I can’t remember if she’s in school - if so, is there a school nurse?

Hi again,  yes she is at school. We did finally get a referral to a school nurse but we had to fight for that one too. She was ill between August til January with regular gp appointments trying to get us some help. She was barely in school due to severe general anxiety - I could barely get her out the front door - she was crying from morning til night. It was truly awful. School were fine that she was barely there but did virtually nothing to help us. Kept telling us to keep on at the GP (later found out school could have referred us to the school nurse and we could have self referred but no one told us - not even the lady in the school nurse office I spoke to querying if they’d got our referral.). Finally got to speak to the actual school nurse in January but by then she had improved drastically (since I’d stopped taking her to the GP!) so I was reluctant to involve outside people again as she was finally improving. The school nurse agreed but did stress I could contact her at any time now she had been referred. But I wouldn’t want to put that stress on her again - not after what she went through last time. They all just made her feel so cr*p about herself that it made her a million times worse.

In the end we adapted her diet and broke her back in gently to school and it seemed to work. She still has anxiety but she is a totally different person to the one she was then. I couldn’t get her into school whereas now I can’t get her out!! She does so many afterschool clubs - sometimes she’s there from 8.45 til 6pm through choice. So she has come a HUGE way.

Tonight she’s been delightful - perfect child. But then she’s not had any dodgey food (she had a slush puppy yesterday when out with her friend) and she’s not worried about anything (last night she was worrying about going swimming with the school today - although she had a great time so hopefully next week she won’t be so anxious).

Last week we were on holiday and she was SO relaxed. Not one issue or banging of knuckles (typical anxious action of hers), no chewing nails, no beating her brother - nothing. Just chillled out happiness.

I know you say the long days/afterschool clubs are her choice, but for an HSC it could be over stimulating? Especially as you say she was so chilled on holiday? I think it is so easy to live this fast paced life, which some kids seem to want, but point is can they cope with it? Could her violent outbursts be a result of this, do you think? Just a thought. My DD is a funny combination of what I would call both highly sensitive but also a ‘sensation seeker’. She actively seeks high energy stuff, thrills, adventures, lots of socialising etc but she cannot deal with it, she becomes easily overwhelmed, which results in meltdowns and yes aggression.

To dare is to lose ones footing temporarily, to not dare is to lose oneself.

LETS number 137

PicnicInTheWoods - 21 June 2014 10:56 PM

I know you say the long days/afterschool clubs are her choice, but for an HSC it could be over stimulating? Especially as you say she was so chilled on holiday? I think it is so easy to live this fast paced life, which some kids seem to want, but point is can they cope with it? Could her violent outbursts be a result of this, do you think? Just a thought. My DD is a funny combination of what I would call both highly sensitive but also a ‘sensation seeker’. She actively seeks high energy stuff, thrills, adventures, lots of socialising etc but she cannot deal with it, she becomes easily overwhelmed, which results in meltdowns and yes aggression.

Hmmm… you could be right there. Mmm…not sure she’d happily give up any of her clubs though - she’s heavily into sport so it’s fast paced energetic stuff too. On top of that she’s often chosen to do other sport related things with the younger years.  But she’s in year six and leaves her primary school in a month’s time so she’ll have to stop then anyway. Her new secondary school finishes at 2.30 and although they do have after school clubs these only run til 3.30 so a much shorter day. At the moment she goes to normal after school club as well as Elite ones on two days a week so she’s there from 8.30-6 two days a week and 8.30-4.30 two days so even though the academic work may be harder, I think she’ll find the whole school day less hectic.

She’s a bit like me in that she can’t do “nothing”. Even if she’s watching tv she’s got to be reading or drawing or playing a game at the same time. I’m exactly the same. I can’t bear to just sit still. Even when I do yoga (which I’m ok with) I can’t do the meditating bit very well as my mind is off somewhere else trying to plan tomorrow’s meals or something or other. Find it really hard to switch off.

I might dig out my HSC book again and refresh myself. Thanks! x x x

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