Feeling like DS controls me and a ? — The Bump
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Feeling like DS controls me and a ?

 I always feel like DS is controling me. He gets upset in the car when we don't go the way he wants, sometimes I just go the way he wants me to, to avoid a tantrum/screaming. In stores, same thing. He also has a photographic memory, so whenever we drive by a place that was enjoyable for him he points and wants to go there. Gets upset when we can't/don't go. He points out every.single.park we drive by, even in the dark. Yet, he doesn't really like playing at the park-mostly just walks the perimeter of them.

I guess my question is, Is this normal behavior for a child with autism? He doesn't act this way with DH as much. Am I just being a push over? He also doesn't have tantrums as much for DH (or maybe DH just ignores it better than I do?). Is this because I expect more from him? How can I get him to be more flexible with these things?

Re: Feeling like DS controls me and a ?

  • I don't have an answer but I can sympathize.  My DS does the same things and yesterday my mom (who lives out of state and sees him maybe once a month) told me he was manipulating me and that I needed to "put a stop to it".  :/
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  • Sometimes my ds will fuss if we drive past a place he wants to go or he will fuss when we turn onto our street to go home because he loves the car. I just stick with the route as planned and ignore the fussing.
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  • I am sooo happy you posted this because I am going through almost the exact same thing with my son right now! He is getting very controlling about where we go in the car, and he does the same thing when we drive by a certain playground and don't stop. He screams and screams and throws anything he is holding. This after me telling him exactly where we are going and what we are doing, he still gets mad :(Same thing when I change the radio station. I also know he does this more with me than DH.  I feel like even when we are home and just playing he is fussier with me. Dh thinks its because I am with him the most and he is most comfortable with me, he kind of lets out all his frustrations when I am around.
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  • Like the PP said - you are his preferred person. You are safe enough for him to behave like this. And he probably isn't controlling you - he doesn't think that way. He thrives on repetition and consistency. And yes, it's normal. Pick your battles. Figure out what things can be bent and what things you want to remain firm on and then adjust your expectations to match. You are not being a push-over. He will not try to manipulate you. It's backwards parenting in many ways and it does feel like your giving in a lot, but if you figure their lives are so filled with chaos and uncertainty and anxiety - the least we can do is to make things a little easier for them, even if it means lowering our expectations of what they 'should' do.
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  • Ditto auntie re: deliberate sabotage. That (along with picking my battles) has become a bit of a parenting mantra for me. DD has some behaviors that I have admittedly indulged/enabled in large part because I'm not sure how to address them and I'm spent from putting out so many other fires... when one of her therapists introduced me to the concept of deliberate sabotage, it really crystallized a "strategy" for me. When she had trouble walking in the rain (which man, did she ever), I made a point of taking her for a walk when the ground was wet, knowing full well she'd freak out. We didn't have to be anywhere, I wasn't busy tending to anything else, I just focused on helping her cope with walking on wet ground. A few quick walks and now walking in the rain is a piece of cake. I never would've thought to try that angle and would've probably continued carrying her into the car on rainy days 'til she was 18 had her therapist not explained the concept.

    All that said, I'm very mindful to only institute deliberate sabotage on those matters that can be potentially debilitating. Not walking in the rain wasn't a huge deal right now, but years from now, it could be major. It would also likely alienate her from her peers if she's freaking out in the presence of a puddle. Do I institute deliberate sabotage on something minor, like a preferred seat at the dinner table? Nah... I have to let her have her victories throughout the day to balance out all the chaos she has to deal with. In the end, though, that's the trick- finding the balance.

     

    When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? ~Pam Brown
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  • Spockles, your post describes my DS so well, too. I'm getting better at "actively ignoring," as my parent trainer calls it. Damn, I'm counting the minutes until the winter break is over. As are millions of parents of typical kids, too, I imagine. ;)
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  • image -auntie-:
    image Glendi428:

    All that said, I'm very mindful to only institute deliberate sabotage on those matters that can be potentially debilitating. Not walking in the rain wasn't a huge deal right now, but years from now, it could be major. It would also likely alienate her from her peers if she's freaking out in the presence of a puddle. Do I institute deliberate sabotage on something minor, like a preferred seat at the dinner table? Nah... I have to let her have her victories throughout the day to balance out all the chaos she has to deal with. In the end, though, that's the trick- finding the balance.

    My thoughts on deliberate sabotage is that these "needs" are driven by anxiety and that getting past them reduces the anxiety and the emotional effort required of the child to be vigilant in maintaining preferred outcomes. It's basic CBT- learning to be OK. It's the inability to be OK that limits kids as much as the social communications glitches.

    Because every opportunity to mix things up for a kid on spectrum is a chance to make them less anxious and more resilient, I wouldn't consider any tweak too minor to address. Overcoming a low stakes "needs", like the route to the mall or his spot at dinner, helped DS do the heavier lifting around stuff where his anxiety was greater. Little steps make the bigger ones doable.

    Inneresting... I'm finding that by her finding success in these "big deal" situations (like the rain), she's suddenly becoming a bit more amenable in other less intense situations... that said, she's still a hyena about where she sits at the table, so maybe I should start exploring a little DS with that... 

    When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? ~Pam Brown
    Big Girl 2.7.06 ~ Baby Girl 9.2.07
    image7_0002
  • image Glendi428:
    image -auntie-:
    image Glendi428:

    All that said, I'm very mindful to only institute deliberate sabotage on those matters that can be potentially debilitating. Not walking in the rain wasn't a huge deal right now, but years from now, it could be major. It would also likely alienate her from her peers if she's freaking out in the presence of a puddle. Do I institute deliberate sabotage on something minor, like a preferred seat at the dinner table? Nah... I have to let her have her victories throughout the day to balance out all the chaos she has to deal with. In the end, though, that's the trick- finding the balance.

    My thoughts on deliberate sabotage is that these "needs" are driven by anxiety and that getting past them reduces the anxiety and the emotional effort required of the child to be vigilant in maintaining preferred outcomes. It's basic CBT- learning to be OK. It's the inability to be OK that limits kids as much as the social communications glitches.

    Because every opportunity to mix things up for a kid on spectrum is a chance to make them less anxious and more resilient, I wouldn't consider any tweak too minor to address. Overcoming a low stakes "needs", like the route to the mall or his spot at dinner, helped DS do the heavier lifting around stuff where his anxiety was greater. Little steps make the bigger ones doable.

    Inneresting... I'm finding that by her finding success in these "big deal" situations (like the rain), she's suddenly becoming a bit more amenable in other less intense situations... that said, she's still a hyena about where she sits at the table, so maybe I should start exploring a little DS with that... 

    I just have to say that your daughters are so unbelievably cute!! And your younger one looks so beautiful with her glasses on. Such cute kids!

  • image -auntie-:

    Inneresting... I'm finding that by her finding success in these "big deal" situations (like the rain), she's suddenly becoming a bit more amenable in other less intense situations... that said, she's still a hyena about where she sits at the table, so maybe I should start exploring a little DS with that... 

    LOL, a hyena. I have found, over time, that the things I sometimes thought were low stakes anxiety producers were, in fact, a bigger deal than things I assumed were huge.

    We all hear so much about change being hard for kids on spectrum, especially the bright ones who have the phenomenal rote memories. Pre-dx, six days into full day kindie at a new school we lost our house in a flood. I mean DS got on the bus and one morning and never saw it again (3' of water on the 2nd floor) the kid lost nearly everything he owned and yet he rolled with it.

    I feel the same way about change as Auntie.  We've moved cities/countries/houses so many times and it was never really a big deal.  Don't let the kid have the purple dino on his left side for a nap on Tues (not Wed) and screaming ensues.  Sigh.  They are capable of so much but sometimes its hard to remember when they are struggling.

    I make changes anytime either one of my guys freaks out over something being the same.  Routines, friends, order, clothes, etc.  However, I never do it at a time when I can't maintain calm (i.e. we are already running late) and never unplanned.  I like to give them warning and I need time to mentally prepare myself for the tantrum.  At 5, my DS#1 is cool with just about anything most of the time.  He even tells his brother is OK when he freaks out.  Of course he's also on anti-anxiety meds, so that helps as well I'm sure. He's so proud of himself when he overcomes something hard, so its become a self esteem booster. 

    I also remind myself its better to try to work on this young.  Can you imagine when they are in school and the teacher decides to take a different hallway or mix up the lunch line?  Very stigmatizing and would happen around all their peers.

  • DS has really surprised me as he's gotten older- we've found that tough transitions only take a couple days. For example, we decided to nix all TV during the week because he was getting a little too interested in it. He has some good old fashioned throw down tantrums about it, but after a couple days he was happily repeating the rule, No TV until the weekend! The standard response his teachers use is "Sometimes we do this, and sometimes we do that!" Like when he all he wants to drink is juice I just casually say sometimes it's juice, sometimes it's water. Would you like juice or milk? Would you like it in this cup or that cup? His teachers stress making choices where there are none. He feels more in control (it's for this reason we have a ton of cool straw cups!).

    I agree, if it's something you just don't allow, he will get over it. I thought I'd never be able to get through a shopping trip without a sucker for DS. Until the day I just forgot to bring one. And he totally got over it! I let him look through my purse and said, woops- no sucker.

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