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Please - need help with my son

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ocmf1702

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Joined
May 7, 2019
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Utah, USA
Hi - please, I am looking for advice for my 11 year old son & others with experience with similar issues

My son has been formally diagnosed with autism, lower IQ (67) and ADD. Not sure if there is anything else we may be missing. He has been seen by 2+ psychologists (including on a regular basis), occupational therapy, math and reading tutors, pediatricians etc.

I am his dad - 38 yr old with bipolar 2 and likely some more mild depression and anxiety; on lamictal, citalopram. My maternal grandpa was diagnosed with bipolar 1.

My son is getting more challenging - not easier. 80% of his time awake he is a good kind boy.

The biggest problem we have is he absolutely 100% locks up with an inability to perform maybe 70% of days while getting dressed in the morning. We have tried to-do routine checklists, traditional punishments (taking away pokemon cards, etc), time outs, some mild spanking, etc.

This is taking a significant toll on our family and truthfully; breaking our hearts and driving a wedge in our lives, etc. This is also creating an inability for us to get him to tutors, school, church, etc. There is definitely some correlation between him not wanting to do an activity and this problem (for example; if he needs to get ready to go play, do something fun, go to grandma's etc; there is usually not a problem - but if it is for school, church then more likely that there is a problem). I am really hoping not to have to take him out of our home and place him in some type of a treatment live in center.

It is interesting because sometime he will have been dressed for hours, and when it is nearing time to go - everything becomes a problem. I am sure he has some clothing sensory issues - this is normally part of the problem (everything "feels weird" - pants too tight even though they are 2 sizes too big, shirts or collars too tight). He generally has developed a few favorites (even though for example with underwear a pack comes with 6 pairs - he will only wear one or 2) - he also does better with smooth clothing (Under Armor shirts, exercise pants - will not touch jeans). We have tried some specialty tight seamless autism shirts - really I don't notice a major difference with those.

He becomes wildly frantic and emotionally/mentally paralyzed; unable to take any action. He will sit there (I assume in an autistic meltdown); saying "I just don't know what to wear"; "I need help"; "Will you help me", etc. We attempt to help and 100% of the time everything gets refused - "I don't want to wear that" and so on after cycling through every piece of clothing (many times with annoyance, irritation, "you're dumb" for proposing it attitude; sometimes does things to escalate the issue to demonstrate his discontent with us; sometimes very mildly violent with us). If we try to force clothing on him; the panic increases; physical resistance - and immediately the clothing comes off.

Sometimes the only way out of the house is to grab some clothing and literally carry him out of the house and let him dress in the car - of course with sheer emotional panic and anger on his part.

I feel threatening with losing a toy, etc only really makes it worse; but me and my wife are only human and don't know what to do even after many hours of psychologist visits and such. For example today; after missing his reading tutor appointment and 30+ minutes of meltdown; I set a timer for 4 minutes; and told him to get dressed within the timer or he would lose his opportunity to go see the new Pokemon movie. Nothing happened (meltdown, "I don't know what to wear", etc). I finally had to leave to work (mom will take him to school) - he was in sheer panic - chasing me down our apartment stairs in his underwear - "don't take away the pokemon movie" - just waiting for the police to be called on us. Always looking back - I feel like the threats make it worse; but we don't know what to do. I feel he must have some significant anxiety issues; but they are not formally treated. 100% of the time; he sees himself as the victim, sees no fault in himself - we cause the issue; we are mean; bad parents, etc.

Please help or share any advice possible. Would love to know if you or someone you know has this problem and how to help.

Thanks
 
calypso

calypso

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WOW that is quite a mega problem. I presume being ultra calm with him doesn't work either. I would not spank him at all if I were you, that just makes matters worse, if they could get any worse. What does the psychologist say? He/she doesn't sound very good if they can't come up with something. Your son can't be the only one with this problem, have you tried Autism sites to ask them what they do? There must be self help groups within range of you or on the internet.

I'm afraid I know little of autism. You are the expert with your son. Would a sticker chart help? IF you get dressed in such and such a time you get a red sticker. Get 3,5,7 stickers you get a gold one and a big treat. You say you have checked for sensory overload or discomfort. Would there be any chance of taking him out shopping for clothes with you and let him touch them and tell you if he likes them? Just a thought.

I hope others will be along soon with more help than I can provide.
 
Confusedandanxious

Confusedandanxious

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May 5, 2019
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Uk
Have you tried setting out a couple of outfits that you know he has had no issue with previously, and then telling him to choose between them.

"I've set some clothes on your bed that I know you like. I think you're old enough to pick out your own clothes so go and pick which ones you would like to wear for today. I bet I've brushed my teeth and washed my face before you're ready ha ha"

My autistic son liked to have choices even though choosing was difficult for him. When I took away a huge selection and let him choose from just two it worked a lot better for him. Setting challenges and keeping it lighthearted seemed to take a lot of pressure off as well for both of us.
 
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ocmf1702

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May 7, 2019
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Utah, USA
Thanks Confusedandanxious - at this point it is certainly worth a try
 
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ocmf1702

New member
Joined
May 7, 2019
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Location
Utah, USA
Thanks Calypso - I'm going to post it over there and see if anyone has a magic solution :)
 
write

write

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Hi, I'm not an expert, only a little experience with autism and also a friend who has a child with similar issues with not being able to wear clothes or go to school.
From what you describe here, your son, and you as his family, aren't getting specialist support to help and understand your son? I think you need to push for this and for more resources to help you all to learn to manage these situations. Imo your child isn't misbehaving, so punishment won't work, (is like punishing you to stop you having bipolar or me because I have ptsd, it won't work or help). He will likely have HUGE anxiety issues due to the autism. He's asking for help as he hasn't yet learnt how to manage, you are asking for help here. He and you need help with this. I feel you are both, all, being let down by your health provider. Can you ask for a referral and more resources for autism specialist services? I wish you all well x
 
OCDguy

OCDguy

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I'm no doctor and I know very little about autism etc. What I will say though is if the tried hasn't worked, it's surely got to be time to try something different... All relationships in my opinion boil down to communication and understanding one another. An example could include asking your son what the issue is with finding the right clothes to wear. Encouragement rather than scolding. Compromising, communicating and mutual understanding rather than demanding. Respect and patience can go a long way. As others have said there must be many who have gone through similar. Sharing and building on what is known to have positive results has got to be the correct way forward for all involved :)
 
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