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Problems with humor and mood


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#1 Innisfree

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 06:27 PM

Not really looking for suggestions here, though I'll be happy to take any; just wondering if anyone else sees this pattern of behavior.

Dd12 (ASD) has a really strong sense of humor, and very often it's perfectly appropriate. But we have a persistent pattern where she gets kind of punchy and over-the-top in a way that no one else in the family is acting. She often begins to act out physically, like picking her older sister up and carrying her around (the kid is strong) or swatting at her, all while laughing uproariously. She clearly is not being malicious, she clearly thinks everyone is having fun like she is. Her sister sometimes indulges her a while, sometimes not. I always end up having to intervene, and when I do, dd12 gets offended and angry. She seems hurt that others don't want to play, even if we try to explain that we want to spend time with her, just not in that way.

She does this with other family members too, though not generally as physically. If we aren't in the mood for rollicking humor because we're trying to fix dinner or whatever, she gets upset and goes off in a huff.

I know I've seen in something Michelle Garcia Winner wrote a reference to kids having a hard time adjusting their mood to the moods of people around them, and I'm assuming that's a big part of what's going on here. There's probably a bit of black-and-white "if you aren't with me, you're against me." We are trying to work on perspective-taking. That's a slow process.

Anyway, just wondering if anyone else sees this sort of thing, and if so, how you handle it.

Edited by Innisfree, 08 October 2017 - 07:26 PM.


#2 Lecka

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:22 PM

I have seen it. When I have seen it, people (I see it with other people's kids, I see parents or teachers respond) respond like you do and intervene -- intervening more quickly if the other kid doesn't like it.

I think for the kids being huffy, sometimes they are still getting the message and are just huffy about it -- but hey, sometimes kids are huffy. If they are huffy in an appropriate way that is actually good for a lot of kids! If they don't go over into being huffy with inappropriate behavior.

There is "what is acceptable when you feel huffy" and some kids have to be taught that, and I think if her huffy behavior is actually acceptable you just brush it off. If it isn't you address it separately I think.

But there are "social autopsies" (I think) where they go over things later when the kid will be more receptive. It may not be a teachable moment at the time if she is a little hyper or huffy. So they would try to bring it up neutrally later and try to have that be when the explanation might stick more.

I see a low tolerance for this because I see it with non-siblings and then it is different than with a sibling. It is easier to have rules of "that's not allowed at school" or "that's not allowed with friends" and not easy with siblings.

Just for size and appropriateness reasons -- other than with siblings I thing there are some hard and fast rules for horseplay and hanging on people, that can be rules.

Maybe there are some other people where she could horseplay, but if there are people she just shouldn't horseplay with, I have seen a chart where they have circles and talk about different groups of people and when (if ever) horseplay could be appropriate.

If there is an activity the sibling could re-direct to if the sibling does want to play -- that is something you could brainstorm with the sibling. It can be easier to change like that, instead of just stop.

We have a dog and a lot of times my kids can re-direct to playing with the dog, getting the dog a treat, or taking the dog outside. Those are my go-to redirects. Siblings can suggest a game sometimes if they actually want to play and don't want to be left alone.

I am stricter than a lot of parents bc I have a daughter who doesn't need to be pestered, and so there is a different situation of him pestering a smaller child.

But he doesn't really do it like I see some kids who are just happy go-lucky and exuberant and it gets into horseplay. My son would be a little more aggressive and so I was more strict with "she said no that means no" and I don't think that is the best way to be for every situation. But that is how I tend to be bc it really frustrates the siblings and my daughter is not as strong as he is, so he has got to play nicely with her. (I mean I think being overly strict doesn't necessarily teach the right way to act or the right way to compromise to play in a way that the sibling doesn't mind, and it can just seem mean -- so it's not helpful sometimes -- I don't mean I'm not in favor of "stop means stop.")

Edit: I think it makes a big difference what the genders are.

A boy acting like this to a girl is really not acceptable. A boy acting like this to a boy is different. I have dealt with this (not really the same thing, I think, though) with boy-with-girl and that is just not okay. Boy-with-boy is a lot more okay, but there is a lot of need for compromise and noticing what the other person wants to do, so it is hard, but it's not the same as a boy bothering a girl, touching a girl who has signaled she wants him to stop, etc.

Edited by Lecka, 08 October 2017 - 08:33 PM.

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#3 OrganicJen

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:38 PM

My son has some similar issues but without the rough housing. He gets in hyper moods where he starts repeating a phrase he picked up somewhere that he finds funny. He giggles and keeps repeating it nonstop and it is highly disruptive. What has worked best for him is that we explained that when he acts that way it is something he needs to go do in his room in private until he can get control again and then he's welcome to come back out and join us. So we now just have to ask him to go do that in his room and he does and he comes out when ready. I'm not sure this would be applicable to your situation, but I just wanted to share that you aren't alone in dealing with these humor related issues.
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#4 Lecka

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:42 PM

For kids I see -- what I see a lot is there are non-verbal signs the child doesn't pick up on. A lot of times kids may turn around or be still to signal they don't want to play. Well -- if kids don't pick up on this then it can escalate a lot to get to the point the child verbally says stop or leave me alone, bc they have been being more and more with their non-verbal cues.

So what I see is the kid is mad already when saying "stop" or "leave me alone," but the kid who didn't pick up on any non-verbal cues doesn't know why all of a sudden the child is mad.

That is honestly what I tend to see.

My son for whatever reason does better with non-verbal cues than a lot of kids but has a harder time with language than a lot of kids, so that's not what I see with him. But I see it with other kids a lot.
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#5 OhElizabeth

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 10:44 PM

My first thought was to look at Zones of Reg and whether she's really as calm and green zone as you think she is. Like you're saying she's having fun, but when she's confronted she snaps. When my ds does that, it means he was actually yellow or even into red zone. You can be HAPPY and be in RED zone. Red is about losing control, not whether you're happy or sad or angry or whatever. It's how controlled you are and how much reserve you have to stay in control. When you go yellow, you're inching that way, and when you go red zone you're losing control, even if it's happy and flapping and whatever. So punchy, overmuch kind of behavior, that's going into red zone around here. And it's actually a common thing to happen with my ds, so I'm always watching for it.

 

Yes, you could get some social thinking materials and work on her noticing how other people are feeling, etc. That would help too. The concepts are complementary, fitting together. You realize other people are going to have feelings about your actions and you realize that you're losing control of you're actions. It all goes together.

 

Mighteor has been really helpful to us. It might be a straightforward way to get some of this awareness going so that she could realize how she feels and start to notice. 

 

I try to have pre-emptive calming breaks with my ds. If I see him going yellow or red zone, I'm going to direct him to take a break and use a calming strategy, pronto. Even better is when I pre-warn him. Like if I know he's only good for 30 minutes of playing with a cousin, I tell him that ahead so he knows the plan. We take the break pre-emptively to keep him calm.


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#6 Innisfree

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 07:00 AM

Oh, yes, I know the giddiness is red zone. We have talked about that. She does not respond well, even when we talk when she's genuinely calm at another time.

Yes, you are right, trying to interrupt and redirect before things get to the red zone is the best solution, but sometimes it happens so fast.

What you wrote just crystallized for me why her reaction to my interrupting her horseplay is so strong, though. She IS already in the red zone, and red-zone play is closer to red-zone anger than it is to the green or blue zones.

I wish I had one of the cheerful, relatively compliant spectrum kids I hear about who are happy to take advice in order to improve their functioning [kidding, kind of]. Her reaction to any mention of, say, Zones of Regulation is to shut down. In essence, she goes to the yellow or red zone just because I bring the subject up. She feels under attack, no matter how gentle or non-confrontational I am. It makes it hard to accomplish much.

Mighteor is in our plans, and I need to do that soon. As in, today. Thanks for the reminder. ;-)

#7 Lecka

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 07:37 AM

We did a ratings scale when we moved here, and my son scored in the average range with supports, on self-regulation.

It is just what his profile is right now.

He has other areas that are very low, and that is usually where a problem comes from.

Think about what your daughter's strengths are.

Her strengths are what will be easier for her to use.

Also -- can you bring up Zones wrt people other than her? Can you bring things up about a tv show, movie, book, other kids? Can you talk about things like that when it's not Zones?

For some kids they can start that way.

I think also, a lot of approaches are going to work best with kids where they are just the kind of kid where that approach will make sense to them and be easier to implement.

There are a lot of approaches that just flat out aren't geared towards my son. He isn't the right fit for them right now. He is in the recommended age range and they are cool programs -- but if it isn't going to be good for him it is better to wait on it.

So I think consider looking at materials or ideas for kids younger than her, in her weaker areas. For littler kids they do more with introducing things with storybooks or pointing things out in cartoons, they aren't asking kids to apply it to themselves (unless they are ready for that -- but a lot of kids aren't).

Another thing to keep in mind is some things like this are really tied to how much kids interact with others and how much they initiate interacting with others. Kids who do interact more and initiate more also have more issues like this. But they may be having a lot of really positive interactions and successful initiations, too. So that can be a bright side.
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#8 OhElizabeth

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 08:29 AM

Oh, yes, I know the giddiness is red zone. We have talked about that. She does not respond well, even when we talk when she's genuinely calm at another time.

Yes, you are right, trying to interrupt and redirect before things get to the red zone is the best solution, but sometimes it happens so fast.

What you wrote just crystallized for me why her reaction to my interrupting her horseplay is so strong, though. She IS already in the red zone, and red-zone play is closer to red-zone anger than it is to the green or blue zones.

I wish I had one of the cheerful, relatively compliant spectrum kids I hear about who are happy to take advice in order to improve their functioning [kidding, kind of]. Her reaction to any mention of, say, Zones of Regulation is to shut down. In essence, she goes to the yellow or red zone just because I bring the subject up. She feels under attack, no matter how gentle or non-confrontational I am. It makes it hard to accomplish much.

Mighteor is in our plans, and I need to do that soon. As in, today. Thanks for the reminder. ;-)

 

I think it's definitely a misimpression if you think other spectrum kids are like oh, thank you for working with me on the Zones but your kid goes red when you try. You definitely can't confront in the moment and I think it's extremely common for kids to be stressed and have behaviors when you try to work on this stuff even when they're calm. It's a reason to consider using an outside person, a behaviorist. The person would have more experience in how to do it and provide supports to keep them calm. The person would have a really consistent routine, which in and of itself can be very calming. The person would have access to more materials to shake things up, so it's not just one thing (boring) but a variety.

 

With my ds, the behaviorist spends time playing, getting him settled, and when she actually works on the social thinking components and really has him thinking she's going to have him doing OTHER things as well that help him stay calm. Like she might put him in a swing or have him playing with toys or feed him a popsicle or... They're noticing what helps keep him calm and they're bringing in lots of supports to keep him there. 

 

She's really getting kind of old for this. It might be time to prioritize here. Like if on your concern list there's math, writing, self-regulation... well self-regulation is going to turn out to be THE most important thing. She's 12. She's going to hit a point pretty soon where she's just gonna shut people out and be done with therapies and things.

 

I like Mighteor a LOT, yes. If you haven't ordered it, sure, get it done. It would be amazing for her. I would also look for a behaviorist, just me. It sounds like they could help you in a lot of ways, if you can make it happen with funding.


Edited by OhElizabeth, 09 October 2017 - 08:31 AM.

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#9 OhElizabeth

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 08:35 AM

Yes, the seemingly happy but losing control red zone is our most dangerous thing around here. I'm constantly watching for it. 

 

The other thing you end up needing is common language about breaks. What does she do when she goes red zone? What is her calming strategy? You can PLAN breaks and use those strategies pre-emptively. You can just say hey when so and so comes over, we're going to take 5 minute breaks every hour and during that time you can have a cookie and go play your apps a bit, kwim? Like you have to think way ahead of them.

 

Until a dc is able to articulate their strategies for themselves, in reality WE are the ones providing the supports. The trick there is to provide support in a way the dc is used to. Like if you only practice calming breaks there, then it will be so out of the blue. But if the dc is used to seeing ok, I take calming breaks all day long, then it's kind of natural. Like what if she's frustrated with her math or writing? What does she do? If she's going yellow zone then, what is her calming strategy? 

 

You might be doing things and not see the pattern. Once you figure it out, then you can make it more intentional. You can make a list of strategies together and actively practice them when she's GREEN zone.

 

Total aside, but my ds has compensatory calming strategies. Like if I inadvertently screw up access to his preferred calming strategy, then he's going to start doing other odd things. And he's not going to really TELL us what's going on. So it takes a bit of detective work to realize what his calming strategy was, what went wrong with it, and how we get it back to usable so he doesn't have to be doing the other funky things. 


Edited by OhElizabeth, 09 October 2017 - 08:38 AM.


#10 OhElizabeth

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 08:42 AM

Just to back up a bit, you mentioned that ASD kids might have a hard time adjusting to the people around them. However some of the kids are VERY chamelon. Like if others are stressed, their stress goes up. But yeah, to realize ok everybody else is at this tempo and I'm like 30mph faster, well that they miss, sure. 

 

In our house, some of those uptempo behaviors are stress. Like if people have been busy with other stuff and he's bored and stressed and not feeling supported, you're going to get this really disconnected, frenetic behavior as he tries to solve his dysregulation in really odd ways. It's why we go back to things like worksheets, because they're predictable, interactive, calming. I was doing worksheets with my ds last night, and he calmed right down. It's crazy. 

 

So it's another, totally different way to calm things down, to do some school work. If it's something she's used to and it's predictable, then it can be a familiar structure and calming. It gives her a way to reconnect and down tempo. It could be puzzles, coloring books, paired writing, anything. It could be school disguised as fun stuff, like hey lets work on poetry writing or fan fiction for that contest. 


Edited by OhElizabeth, 09 October 2017 - 08:44 AM.


#11 Innisfree

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 08:58 AM

OhE and Lecka, thanks for all that. I'm going to have to spend some time reading and absorbing.

I just ordered Mighteor and it ships tomorrow. Hurray! But she's already decided she hates the whole idea, and I didn't even mention anything like emotional regulation. She just says she only likes Minecraft. Sigh.

Yes, she is getting older, and emotional regulation and social skills need to be at the top of the list.

#12 OhElizabeth

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 11:42 AM

Pay her. Like don't pretend it's supposed to be fun and all. Just say something true about why you're doing it, say it's only 10 minutes of play (not set up but actual play) a day, and pay her. Pay extra for extra time and deduct for days skipped if you want.

It's probably going to be hard work for her.
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