Hey guys, I've made a few posts here in the past but not much recently. I am the aunt (pseudo mom) of a 9 yo boy who was diagnosed with Aspergers. I am here now because I am completely at a loss and am at the end of my rope. Bugga used to be the sweetest, happiest kid, but lately he has gotten so angry and defiant. We worked with a local group of trained therapists last year and they taught him coping skills and social interactions and everything. He seemed to be doing okay and they decided he was ready to "graduate" from the program.
He has been seriously back sliding. His current obsession is with video games, particularly Plants vs. Zombies and anything Mario. Given the choice, he would spend every minute of every day playing video games. That's why we regulate his time. He gets one hour a day (2 on weekends) but he has the opportunity to gain or lose minutes based on behaviour. It worked at first but it doesn't seem to anymore. Right now he has locked himself in the bathroom. He threw his homework and everything (place mats, newspapers, nothing breakable or damaging) all over the dining room, slammed his door, hit the wall repeatedly even after I warned him not to, and kept yelling that I was "trying to ruin his life" and that he didn't want to live here anymore.
This all came about because I told him he had to do his chores before he would be allowed to play video games (a rule that we always have and that he has agreed to). I am at a loss. I've tried being patient, I've tried reasoning with him, I've tried consequencing, I've even tried yelling and cursing and threatening, He won't listen. He is incredibly defiant and angry and I have no idea what to do with him. I'm even getting to the point where I'm considering spanking him (even though I usually am against that) but he's too big and I'm afraid it would turn into a struggle and someone might get hurt and that would absolutely kill me.
Is anyone else dealing with this? Is it a symptom of aspergers? Or is it something more like oppositional defiance disorder? I'm seriously sitting here crying because I feel so helpless and impotent.
I have a 9 year old Aspie. The majority of the time, when he acts angry and defiant, it is because something else is upsetting him. This year we have had two episodes like this and both times within a day or two I found out that someone was teasing him at school. Maybe try taking him back to therapy. Maybe he needs that as an outlet.
I used to teach middle school, and while I didn't have much contact with the 4th graders, but I can tell you that in 5th and 6th grade some of the children who didn't live with their biological parents seemed to suddenly feel angry about it. I always tried to encourage their caregivers to enroll them in some counciling to deal with the sense of loss (of their mother) and their anger at her for not being there and possibly (the worst ones I saw) where she went on to have more children who did live with her. I learned quickly to tread very lightly on that subject, so I'm sorry if it is a sore subject.
That is pretty much our situation. Both of his parents are drug addicts and spend more time in jail than they do free. Bugga can probably count on one hand the number of times he's even seen his mother. The real kicker though is that he was raised by his maternal grandma until he was three years old. She became ill and my family took him to live with us while she recuperated. When she finally did, she decided that he was better off here (he was in an excellent preschool and had therapies for his special needs). He loves her as a mother and I think he feels her "loss" even more than the absence of his biological mother. When he's really upset he'll lash out at me and my parents by saying that he wants to move back in with her, that she treats him better than we do, yadda yadda. I know he doesn't mean it but it still hurts.
I finally got him calmed down, thank goodness. He tried to explain it to me just before bed. First he heartbreakingly counted off all the people in his class who "hate him." (he listed 10 for me but said there were still more). He said they were mean to him but he always seemed to have to "let it go" at school so he wouldn't get in trouble. He said "you know when you have to spit, when it has to come out, but you have to wait until you're somewhere that you can do it and not get in trouble? It's like that." I'm glad he feels safe enough around me to "spit" but at the same time it really isn't healthy.
Sounds like he's got alot of emtional things going on. I would take him back to group therapy, but I would also get him some one-on-one therapy to deal with his feelings of abandonment. On some level he probably feels very badly about himself. Mom didn't want me. Grandma didn't want me. I am defective. How long before Auntie doesn't want me either? He's scared and that thought is in the back of his mind all the time. For a 'normal' kid that would be hard, but for an Aspie, who probably have a very real sense that he's different than other kids....I just can't imagine how hard and scary it is for him. I think he definatly needs professional help.
Also, wanted to say that I am so glad that he came to you. He's a special boy who needs a special person to understand and love him.
Thank you so much! I have started the process of getting him back into the behavioral therapy but I'm still looking for a good child therapist who can work with him on his emotional issues. You're right, he has a lot to work through. And add in the fact that a lot of his classmates avoid him and it's really no wonder he's acting out. It's just so hard to deal with.
One thing that really helped with my son was just telling him that I accept that acting-out is a way the he communicates with me. We set ground rules. He doesn't hurt anyone and he doesn't damage property. He does things like lay all the dinning room chairs on their sides (instead of shoving them over), or take books off the book case and stack them (instead of throwing them). Different people have different styles, and what works for me and what *I* think is accpetable might not work for you, but I feel like it gives him a safe, controled way of expressing himself. I also think that it helps him with his self-control. Other people have argued, well, if he can control it that much, he can not do it at all. That may or may not be true, but I rather let him work it out than make him bottle it up. I also do make him pick up whatever he 'messed-up' when he was angry. I normally help him, but I mostly want to show him that there are consequences for actions.
Good luck! I hope you are able to get him the help that he needs.
My son's dr advised me to help him find a 'nerdy' hobby, the 'nerdier' the better--his exact words. He said that nerdy kids are generally more tolerant of differences. The dr suggested "Magic the Gathering" (which is a card game), which he said many of his Aspies play and helps them find a 'place to fit in'.
My son takes playing cards, a football or a travel game to school for recess. I also pack him a snack, something like a ziplock bag or cookies with enough to share with whoever he is playing with at school. It really helps him deal with recess better.
Another thing that may help is developing his "ownership" of his schedule so that he also plans when it's time to do his chores and then rewards himself by setting the time he gets to play his video games. What I mean is that self-determination builds tremendous self-esteem - a feeling of control. It's very important that children who are passed from family to family gain some degree of control over their lives.
That being said, a simple way to do this is using a form of personal scheduling / personal organizing that can also prompt and remind them when they've selected times to do things.
Children who learn how to schedule or help schedule their activities have greater degrees of success throughout their academic times and adulthood.
Sadly, this skill is most often overlooked until transition time from school to adulthood... then the focus is on individual skills not personal management...
Feel free to ask me any questions...
A nerdy hobby! That's great! I'll have to look into Magic (I admit, I did my share of D&D in my nerdy youth). Unfortunately Bugga doesn't seem to get along with the other nerds in his class (mostly because they are all nerdy about different things). Plants vs. Zombies is one of the only things he and the other kids at school can talk about. That's pretty nerdy but I think as he gets older he's going to need something else. We tried to get him trumpet lessons so he'd be able to join the marching band in high school, but he really despises it since it takes time away from his video games.
I do think that letting him control his schedule a bit more would be good. He always wants to negotiate and make a deal (of course if I don't agree with his terms he gets really upset), but maybe if I gave him some basic guidelines he could take more control in rearranging what task to do first.
Thanks for all the advice, I really do appreciate it. :)