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When is normal behavior not normal anymore?


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I am at my wits end with my 3 year old son. He throws massive fits daily. Bedtime is the only trigger I can count on, otherwise, I live my life waiting for the next thing to set him off. We have eliminated all tv because that seemed to increase the fits. I make sure to have snacks available all the time because hunger makes him uncontrollable. 

 

The pediatrician, although surprised at the intensity that I explained, blew me off and said it's extreme but still "normal" and that he'll out grow it by 4. She was surprised that I explained that the behaviors are far from new - in fact he's probably been demonstrating these extreme behaviors from the time he could crawl, starting with massive fights that required full body restraint to change a diaper, leading to breath-holding spells (which would actually be my chance to get the diaper changed because he would stop fighting just long enough).

 

I've been told on the learning challenges board that it's a flag for autism, and he did have delayed speech (which has caught back up with the help of an amazing private SLP). The initial screening at age 2 did not bring up an autism flag. My husband is adamant that it's not autism because he doesn't have other "classic signs".

 

He's Jekyll and Hyde. One minute the nicest sweetest thing ever created and the next he's either crying on the floor or shutting down. He's lately taken to more shutting down behaviors (head and eyes down, no response, will not obey, look at me, or respond in any way) If I try to push obedience, I get a fight and crying fit, so I tend to leave him alone to his behavior (which is what the pediatrician advised I do). But this means that I'm constantly trying to walk the line between fighting him and getting him to obey a simple command. Good days are care-free and responsibility free where he can play all day without any direction from me, so I keep our daily calendar as open as possible.

 

For example, this morning before church he wouldn't let me put his pants on. I tricked him into them only to turn around and see him stripping them back off. He refused his shoes altogether. He refuses to go into his class at church... sits quietly with us in ours instead. Then, when he's hungry and tired of sitting through both the sermon and the first half of Sunday school, he starts to melt down and I remove him before he's disruptive. He sits in the hall unresponsive unless I try to pick him up to take him to his class, at which point he will scream and fight. So I let him sit. My husband got some crackers to feed him and asked him to help open the door, etc, finally got him out of the funk and able to respond again. By now it is time to go home. Now he and dad are at the store together and I guarantee he'll return with the report of having been an angel of obedience and helpfulness. 

 

I have been advised to try a gluten free diet because I have an intolerance to gluten so it's in the family and a possible trigger. But my husband does not agree that the behavior is abnormal. "Lots of parents have kids who melt down" "I see behaviors so much worse than this at my school" etc. (he teaches at an inner city school in an area that probably wouldn't be safe to walk alone after dark).

 

So is it normal? Is this just what a "challenging" head-strong boy looks like? I feel helpless and weary from the battles.

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:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

I don't know, but there may very well be things that are triggering his issues and his age is compounding the problem, perhaps.  3 can be tougher than 2.  If there is more than one issue, it could be tricky to tweak out what the issues are, especially with a 3 year old.  Neither of my kids really went through "the terrible two's".  They had the "thrice cursed threes" :).  It was really more developmental and personality stuff, though.  This sounds like more than just developmental, but I am not a doctor.  Have you looked into sensory issues?  Maybe he gets overwhelmed at sensory changes?  

 

Although this is entirely anecdotal I have had others experience something similar and in those instances it was because of sensory issues coupled with hearing issues.  The kids in question were both boys and both had unusual hearing loss that did not show up in a standard ped screening.  Not hearing well coupled with sensory issues made them frustrated and confused and defensive.  

 

I hope you find answers and a less stressful path.  Huge hugs OP.  

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It's so tough being a parent. Hugs to you going through this. It's good that you've brought this to the attention of your pediatrician for advice and support, and to try and rule out medical reasons for the behaviours. I'd keep tracking the behaviour patterns and write them down. You may be able to find some connections to things that bring on the fits, and hopefully come up with some solutions. 

 

My oldest son had really challenging and explosive screaming fits up to his 3rd birthday. They'd happen suddenly during the day and even in the middle of the night. We couldn't figure out what was the common factor triggering them. They stopped happening right after his birthday, and never returned. It's still a mystery to me what they were. He is almost 14 now, super bright and pleasant, with no screaming fits to be seen at all, or any medical conditions whatsoever.

 

My youngest son had another behaviour that my dh and I thought was intentional, and turned out to be a medical condition beyond ds's control. It's still an ongoing challenge for us all to keep on top of it, but at least we know it's not ds's choice to do what might be considered misbehaving.

Edited by wintermom
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Wintermom's suggestion is a good one.  Start a journal.  Create a form that is easy to fill in, maybe, so it won't be so time consuming.  Time, Date, Foods eaten/what was drunk, surrounding circumstances/location/weather, specific behavior, severity (maybe create a ranking chart), length of duration, etc.  It would give your pediatrician more solid info and if the behavior continues and you decide to seek a specialist it would definitely help them, too.  

 

ETA:  It will also help with seeing if this is as concerning as it seems or if maybe he is just a tired, cranky 3 year old.

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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Is there a pattern to his good days?

 

How is he with your husband for long hours?

 

My headstrong challenging firstborn used to react to food dyes almost immediately. He also thrives on structure and clear rules. He also had sensory triggers since newborn that he can accomodate now but he couldn't at 3.

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Back in the late 80's as a dirt-poor mom barely out of my teens, I birthed me a 2E kid on spectrum before anyone knew there was a spectrum.

 

I knew what Autism was, and knew my kid was displaying similar but milder behaviors. Bringing this up with his pediatrician resulted in mocking, disbelief, and threats. I shut up quickly.

 

I gradually began to see similar behaviors in family members. The men in my husband's family mostly tried to throw me off track, but one took pity on me and my kid and let me know what was going on just enough for DS and I to survive.

 

In my family everyone on the spectrum is 2E, and in most cases intelligence and spectrum behaviors intensify together. I don't see it as a disability, just different.

 

DS took me for a ride. :lol: I wouldn't be who I am without having reared him. He is part of the reason I am so radical. He forced me to examine everything beyond mainstream shallowness.

 

What is "normal"? In 2016 normal isn't even normal anymore. 100% of children are supposed to function at the 1% competitive level or they are failures. I can't wrap my brain around that, but that is a thread in itself.

 

I believe spectrum traits are essential for our species to survive. I believe they are normal. I believe current mainstream ideas about them are erroneous.

 

I reared my kid as if he were normal, but different than the majority. He was lucky that so many successful men in the family were just like him, and sometimes singled him out from the other children with a wink, when he was fighting being assimilated into what was being done with the other children.

 

After some significant brain damage a few years ago, I see some intensification of some mild spectrum behaviors in myself.

 

Women with PTSD have a higher incident of spectrum disorders than those without it. Are spectrum women more likely to be abused? Or does PTSD cause spectrum behaviors? No one really knows. This stuff runs in families. My kid didn't pop out of nowhere.

 

It isn't preY2K anymore. Maybe whether it is normal or not is more important, now. It WAS possible to rear a kid back then without labeling and focusing on labels. Yes, I had to yank his scrawny little butt out of PS in the 5th grade before anyone really did that. But for the most part, he was just himself. Teaching us all so many things. Forcing us to see deeper. And making us laugh as he graduated from the temper-tantrums to polite and passive aggressive ways not to be assimilated into what he thought was illogical and stupid.

Edited by Hunter
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Is not wanting to wear pants common for him, or was that just a one-off and other times he picks other things to be stubborn about?

Not wanting to wear pants was common for my kid. Every time I turned around he was stripped down to a pair of whitey tighties with a pair of socks on his hands. :lol:

Edited by Hunter
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Wintermom's suggestion is a good one.  Start a journal.  Create a form that is easy to fill in, maybe, so it won't be so time consuming.  Time, Date, Foods eaten/what was drunk, surrounding circumstances/location/weather, specific behavior, severity (maybe create a ranking chart), length of duration, etc.  It would give your pediatrician more solid info and if the behavior continues and you decide to seek a specialist it would definitely help them, too.  

 

I love this suggestion - at the very least it will help me look at the behaviors more rationally and I won't feel so out of control anymore. If I can find a pattern, I won't be blindsided by the behavior anymore. I think I will be doing a gluten-free trial starting this week, too, and a chart like this will help me see whether the food trial helps.

 

Is there a pattern to his good days?

 

How is he with your husband for long hours?

 

My headstrong challenging firstborn used to react to food dyes almost immediately. He also thrives on structure and clear rules. He also had sensory triggers since newborn that he can accomodate now but he couldn't at 3.

one-on-one he's usually better for longer. My eldest daughter has been through OT for sensory issues and we saw huge success (she was diagnosed with ADHD but the sensory work has basically solved that). We don't have the money to do it again, but maybe I can explore the sensory side of things from all I learned with her.

 

 

Is not wanting to wear pants common for him, or was that just a one-off and other times he picks other things to be stubborn about?

It's pretty normal. He does pick other things to be stubborn about, but clothes is one of his big sticking points - he has to wear his train shirt and green underwear. There has to be a pretty big motivator to get him in something different (like getting to "go" somewhere... he likes going). Sometimes he wants the pants with pockets, sometimes he doesn't want the pants because they have pockets. Sometimes he is particular about the pants, but if given the option, he'd go without pants 24/7. Which sounds like a sensory thing, I realize as I type it. He's particular about his PJs too, but I always thought it was the patterns (he has a thing for the dinosaurs). 

Edited by mamashark
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I would think about it in terms of functional vs. functional. Normal, who needs normal? Who even cares?

 

BUT--you need to be able to live as a family. Your son need to learn to respect other's requests when they are reasonable. He needs to be able to find pants he can wear for any occasion. He will likely outgrow the tantrums, I would agree (I had a kid like that) but he might still put up a fight in other ways and he needs to learn when being compliant is the right thing to do.

 

The idea of looking at a trigger diary is a great one. But I would add a column: what did your family need to do, or what would be at least really nice  to do, that you weren't able to do, because of the behavior?

 

I.e. "We couldn't get to church on time because he wouldn't wear the bare minimum of clothing required for a child his age." Provided the minimum is reasonable (it sounds like they just want pants and shoes on, which is reasonable), then you might look at how to solve that. Were the pants uncomfortable? Can he wear sweatpants everywhere? What about more cozy shoes? Can you start earlier? Can he sleep in his comfy clothes? Or is this something that, no matter what, when getting out the door, he will fight over something, including, but not limited to, "But I don't have the toy I lost last week!" or "You touched my hand wrong! That hurt!" or "But I don't want to walk or be carried, I refuse to go to the car unless it is on a jet pack!" (If so, welcome to my life--my kids just enjoyed crying at that age, literally Mickey Mouse could offer to bring them to Disneyland Party and they would collapse in a heap because he wasn't wearing the right white gloves.)

 

That might help problem solve in the near term as well. I also think that expressing it in terms of what you need to happen vs. what you want your son to act like could help you and your DH problem solve together. You also might find that letting his tantrums be his problem when you don't need to go anywhere / do something, could help, but I'm the worst at ignoring tantrums (I just want to solve it so I can focus) so I have no advice for you there.

 

My kids were like yours at three, especially the older one. It was a nightmare. I feel like crying just thinking of that year, with the baby and the three-year-old. But we did a lot of cool stuff too. Three was, for us, the absolute worst age.

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 Three was, for us, the absolute worst age.

 

While I appreciated everything you said, this struck a chord - this is what the pediatrician said. And it makes me want to curl into a ball, hide in the corner behind a chair with a blanket over my head and never come out. I've been dealing with this behavior for AT LEAST a full year, if not longer. If it is supposed to get WORSE this year, I think it might very well drive me insane.  :crying:  :(

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While I appreciated everything you said, this struck a chord - this is what the pediatrician said. And it makes me want to curl into a ball, hide in the corner behind a chair with a blanket over my head and never come out. I've been dealing with this behavior for AT LEAST a full year, if not longer. If it is supposed to get WORSE this year, I think it might very well drive me insane.  :crying:  :(

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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While I appreciated everything you said, this struck a chord - this is what the pediatrician said. And it makes me want to curl into a ball, hide in the corner behind a chair with a blanket over my head and never come out. I've been dealing with this behavior for AT LEAST a full year, if not longer. If it is supposed to get WORSE this year, I think it might very well drive me insane.  :crying:  :(

 

I know. It really sucked. Everyone talked about the terrible twos. I don't get that. Maybe kids today are asked to do less at two? Or more at three?

 

Two tantrums just kind of blended into a whirlwind of serious intentional tantrums at three. Four was argumentative, five started to settle down, and seven was more or less normal but she's still not a ton of fun when she's hungry. :(

 

One thing that helped me was hanging out with a lot more moms. Not the moms of perfect kids who told me "I just asked nicely and she did it. I never yelled so I never had to yell." But like, moms with real kids who did not act like they sprang straight from a parenting book example. Kids who also melted down.

 

Because I found a lot of my pain and angst was from worrying that "this isn't okay" or "this isn't normal" and nobody could convince me otherwise. I had to see it for myself.

 

Maybe my kids and I have something in common, LOL!

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OP, do you get any respite?  Can you take a breather every day, where you get to go do something while your DH watches your child?  Something just for you?  This may very well be developmental and will improve with time but right now you sound exhausted and demoralized.  That will make dealing with challenges even harder.  

 

Maybe, besides starting the behavior journal, you could also make a list right now of your goals for the day for you and your child.  Keep those goals very simple, very short.  Work each day on a simple goal and don't stress about lots of expectations right now.  Also, maybe keep a list of things that went well.  Keep in mind the things that you enjoyed or he seemed happy doing.  Keep your focus really simple right now.

 

For instance, maybe your goal is to just have him wear relatively clean clothes this year.  Focus on that.  Find 3 outfits he is willing to wear, even if they are identical, and rotate those three outfits.  Keep him wearing something reasonably clean that protects him from the elements and don't stress about any other wardrobe issues.  

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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See if you can get a copy of the book Living with Intensity. My youngest was sort of like that at 3, except he has severe ADHD so he was never calm and quiet.

 

My intense child is now 8, and currently in the middle of a regression (very frustrating!). Fits aren't something he does willingly. It's not manipulation. It is the result of having a sensitive temperament and poor coping skills. I work on the temperament with lots of positive affirmations to recognize his good moments and nurture that positive self-image. I work on the coping skills when he is not upset. He has an indoor trampoline he can use to burn off frustration, and taking a shower is a great re-set if I can get him in there. I absolutely do not force anything, and even talking much when he is upset just escalates the situation. I only do what is needed to get him out of crisis mode (sitting down and speaking quietly and calmly) and then we have a good talk when he has a clear head again.

 

As your son gets older, he will improve as long as he has a good self-esteem and hasn't been over-punished or shamed. Separate out what he does from who he is (it is sooooo easy for these kids to internalize criticism and believe that they are just bad). I would not make him stay in situations he cannot handle. For my kid, that was group sports, daycare, camp, and a short stint in kindergarten. I limited my son's activities to those he could do successfully and he has gradually been able to handle more.

 

Intense kids are often brilliant, so there's a little silver lining for you.

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Could it be food dyes?  One of my DS's threw terrible tantrums after eating anything with red dyes (which are in quite a few things).  

 

This was one of my girls.  Red #40 was her trigger.  I thought that we were going to have to put her in a mental facility.  Truly.  I was afraid to take her to the doctor because I thought she would be taken away from me.

 

She used to slam doors, bite, hit, yell.  And then at other times she was a sweet little girl.  Jekyll and Hyde, indeed.

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I'm jumping to the end and I'm being blunt.  Your ped is an idiot.  Get a full eval at a private clinic.  Those screening tools are only effective if you notice the behaviors.  We "passed" several, and my ds now has an ASD diagnosis.  That intensity is not normal.

 

Btw, one of the words we use to describe my ds is fragile.  Any thing can overwhelm his ability to cope.  So he can seem good as gold, and something maxes out his ability to cope and BAM we're in meltdown mode, with oppositional behavior, escape behaviors, etc.  To me that's some of what you're describing. 

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Look into Feingold.org and do it fast. Your son sounds like my 10yo son at that age. We walked on eggshells constantly. Bedtime was such a huge stressor I started having eye twitches. Cutting out all artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives, as well as scents and salycilates, has changed our lives.

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I don't think my kid escalated from 2-3, but I think *I* changed what I was asking and expecting and THAT brought some new challenges.

 

Once DS started screaming, he couldn't stop and would steady progress towards self-harm. Over the course of age 3 we both learned how to better interrupt that pattern.

 

Age 3 was busier, but not worse. My young self was a bit of a machine. I was very very very consistent. To the point of being on the spectrum myself. :lol:

 

Age 3 was a lot of progress. We mopped up at 4. Age 5 was a lot quieter and less snot.

 

Then he used his superior mental prowess to outsmart me and we entered a new phase. :lol:

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:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:  We had a super-tough one, too. Didn't even START to turn the corner until about 4-5yo, and it wasn't until he was about 9yo that I actually felt like the worst was behind us. Getting regular breaks for YOU is going to be crucial; you just can't "do" parenting of an intense child 24-7. :(

 

I did find some helpful tips in the book The Difficult Child. Just realizing that it wasn't ME -- that it was my child who was having struggles -- helped a lot to keep coping. There's a list of 10 traits, which you rate your child as how little or how intensely the child has that trait. (activity level, self-control, concentration, intensity, regularity, negative persistence, sensory threshold, initial response, adaptability, predominant mood). When I tallied it up for both DSs, one was extreme in 7 traits, and the other DS was extreme in 2 of the remaining 3 traits and medium in that last trait -- we were hitting the top of the scale in 9 of 10 areas of difficulty for the first 6 years of having children!!   :eek: (DSs are only 20 months apart)

 

Not personally familiar with it, but Amazon also links The Explosive Child as a frequent go-along book for The Difficult Child.

 

TOTALLY AGREE with Ondreeuh's post on teaching coping skills as your child matures -- that really helped our DS. Also lots of good ideas from other previous posters!

 

Areas that were super difficult for our one DS were self-control/impulsivity, and a very low sensory-overload threshold. Super-soft used clothing (second hand store, items that had been washed repeatedly to softness), cutting out the tags in shirts, sweat pants, socks with no toe seams (at the time, all I could find were girls' bobby sox! so I just donated the pink pair and DS wore the blue, red, black, or white pairs in the pack), shoes with velcro rather than ties that he could adjust till it felt okay for him helped for getting him to wear clothes. We also compromised and let him go barefoot most of the time at home.

 

A lot of prep to help DS transition was very helpful -- letting him know what was coming next, and that he would have buffer time between things to help him transition: "When this TV show is over, we'll turn off the TV and take 5 minutes to transition, and then we'll start to pick up toys." 

 

Giving DS "safe" ways of getting out physical build up (we had a biter!) -- punch a pillow, pound clay, use a "chewie fidget" -- but also keeping a close eye to gently remove from a situation that was becoming too overwhelming for him before he had to reach the "blow his stack" moment.

 

Church, birthday parties, and other outings with a lot of people, a lot of commotion (sound, motion, confusion), or that are not the routine -- coupled with NOT being at home where everything is familiar really ups the potential for  overload, so it can help to come up in advance with some strategies you can use to help bring DOWN the overload can help. If sitting quietly in the hall at church works for DS, rather than being in the sanctuary or the classroom -- do it! Work DS SLOWLY towards being able to handle longer periods of time in the sanctuary, or eventually make it in the classroom. Sit for 10 minutes in church with him, and then just make it your routine to spend the rest of the service quietly in the hall together. Maybe read together from DS's children's bible. Slowly, incrementally extend the time in service. I probably wouldn't try Sunday School classroom for awhile -- that's too much chaos (noise and confusion), on top of too much switching around (leaving his home, sitting in the sanctuary, then moving to a classroom, and possibly even moving again to a play area in the Sunday School).

 

 

Just to encourage you: our DS who struggled so much as a little guy has grown up to be a great young man (just turned 22yo!) :). It was just a longer, rougher road at the beginning for all us, esp. for him, until his brain could mature/develop some of the skills he needed for coping with transitions, developing self-control, and getting to the point of being able to deal with extreme sensory issues and sensory overload.

 

But getting some professional input, some testing, and working on some dietary changes might help speed that up for you. Wishing you and your family all the BEST! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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We had to go with organic food b/c mine reacted to a lot of things, not just dyes, but also flavorings and MSG and its many variants--organic avoids most (though even then not  all) of them. Mine also has issues with low blood sugar and thus needs proper frequent feeding/snacks. And also reacts to plastics, chemical cleaners, and a variety of other stuff. And sugar--he can manage some if well balanced by protein, but too much is not a good thing.  And all of this is still true as a teen.  He has had different reactions to different things.

 

I think gluten and maybe casein would also both be worth consideration and trying to be free of them for a while...if he is gluten sensitive avoidance may at first provoke worse seeming symptoms during withdrawal (actually that can be true for anything you try to avoid, that there can be a worse withdrawal phase).

 

"normal" and "common" are not necessarily the same thing

 

your son's good days seem almost as unusual for that age as his bad ones

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I am at my wits end with my 3 year old son. He throws massive fits daily. Bedtime is the only trigger I can count on, otherwise, I live my life waiting for the next thing to set him off. We have eliminated all tv because that seemed to increase the fits. I make sure to have snacks available all the time because hunger makes him uncontrollable. ...

For example, this morning ..... Then, when he's hungry and tired of sitting through both the sermon and the first half of Sunday school, he starts to melt down and I remove him before he's disruptive. He sits in the hall unresponsive unless I try to pick him up to take him to his class, at which point he will scream and fight. So I let him sit. My husband got some crackers to feed him and asked him to help open the door, etc, finally got him out of the funk and able to respond again. ...

...

 

So is it normal? Is this just what a "challenging" head-strong boy looks like? I feel helpless and weary from the battles.

I agree with the person who suggested to keep records to look for patterns.

 

I can't speak to everything you wrote, but I do believe that most normal 3 year olds can and do melt down when hungry and tired. So, I'd look for a pattern to the melt downs.

 

As to wearing pants...there are varying comfort level of the clothing and materials. Sweat pants generally are comfortable while some dress-up pants can be made from itchy/scratchy fabrics with uncomfortable seams. There's something called "sensory processing disorder" which checks off some of the behaviors found on the autism spectrum without having all of them. But at age three, many children have more sensitive skin and may find certain clothing uncomfortable.

 

Bottom line: I don't know. Some of this sounds like it could just be a three year old who's hungry, tired and wearing uncomfortable clothes, (and perhaps coming down with a cold.) That's how three years olds act sometimes. You say he acts like this often, but I can't tell from what you wrote if this is he's just frequently hungry and tired or if he also acts like this during normal daily routines when he's well-rested, well-fed, and wearing comfortable clothes.

Edited by merry gardens
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I didn't read all of the other replies but this sounds very much like my youngest and my daughter when she was younger. My daughter was like this from about 2 until a month or two before she turned 5. They both have celiac disease. They did not get diagnosed until they were 3 and 1 but within about a week the difference was dramatic. It wasn't a magic bullet but it's clear they were probably miserable all the time and that was a major contributor. When they have accidentally been "glutened" I get the behavior you described. Also when they are sick or getting sick, sometimes their body reacts as if they have had gluten. There have been occasions where they are unusually out of control, meltdowns etc. and I can't figure out what is going on then the next day someone has a runny nose or fever. 3 is really the worst but there could be other things magnifying it. I would recommend doing a food and behavior journal for a while so you can see if there are any patterns and then you can move from there. 

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I'm jumping to the end and I'm being blunt.  Your ped is an idiot.  Get a full eval at a private clinic.  Those screening tools are only effective if you notice the behaviors.  We "passed" several, and my ds now has an ASD diagnosis.  That intensity is not normal.

 

Btw, one of the words we use to describe my ds is fragile.  Any thing can overwhelm his ability to cope.  So he can seem good as gold, and something maxes out his ability to cope and BAM we're in meltdown mode, with oppositional behavior, escape behaviors, etc.  To me that's some of what you're describing. 

 

Fragile is a great way to describe it. Also, whoever said about egg shells is a great way to describe my life. I tiptoe around certain transitions and take the strange looks from other parents when I don't ask him to do certain things when I know he'll meltdown (like getting in the group picture after a field trip recently).

How is his sleep? Is he able to fall asleep on his own at a reasonable hour? Does he stay in bed at night? Does he nap or rest during the day?

 

His sleep is hard. He is able to fall asleep on his own but it's a struggle to get him into bed and to stay there. He has the option of sleeping in a bed in his sisters' room, in his bed in the boys room with his brother, or in our room in our bed, which is where he tends towards probably 80% of the time. I am trying to make bedtime feel safer for him - he has nightlight stars that shine on the ceiling, a light on in the hall, open door, frequent checks on him.

 

He doesn't always stay in bed, I'd say a good 50% of the time he ends up back in our bed sometime overnight. He doesn't nap anymore during the day - we used to figure out a way to get him to sleep even if it meant laying down with him for as long as an hour until he fell asleep, but then he'd be up fighting bedtime until late. So he doesn't nap anymore. We have quiet time in the afternoon whenever possible, during the baby's nap. Sometimes this means books, other times it means quiet play on the floor. But it always means no loud/fast/busy play. 

Edited by mamashark
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It's pretty normal. He does pick other things to be stubborn about, but clothes is one of his big sticking points - he has to wear his train shirt and green underwear. There has to be a pretty big motivator to get him in something different (like getting to "go" somewhere... he likes going). Sometimes he wants the pants with pockets, sometimes he doesn't want the pants because they have pockets. Sometimes he is particular about the pants, but if given the option, he'd go without pants 24/7. Which sounds like a sensory thing, I realize as I type it. He's particular about his PJs too, but I always thought it was the patterns (he has a thing for the dinosaurs). 

 

Can he verbalize what he doesn't like about wearing pants? Are they tight around his tummy, or is he too hot with them on, or something else? What senses exactly are bothering him?  As a parent, I'll often make an assumption about why my young child likes or dislikes something, but when I ask what specificially is the issue, it's often completely different than I assumed. And that's when I get a lot closer to to understanding what is going on in their mind and body. 

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Just so you know, you have TONS of red flags here.  Issues with pictures, struggling with transitions.  These SCREAM the need for full, proper evals.  I just don't see how you're going to get a diet problem to explain them, and these are CLASSIC, textbook expressions of the problem.  PLEASE get evals.  

 

 

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While I appreciated everything you said, this struck a chord - this is what the pediatrician said. And it makes me want to curl into a ball, hide in the corner behind a chair with a blanket over my head and never come out. I've been dealing with this behavior for AT LEAST a full year, if not longer. If it is supposed to get WORSE this year, I think it might very well drive me insane. :crying: :(

All kids are different. My kids were intense kids who had meltdowns but it got better as the years went by not worse. They still can be intense but some things have gotten better. It does sound like he has sensory issues and is an intense child. If the issues interfere with daily life which they do then you can get help for it. My kids did not cross the line into autism and we did not have insurance but if we did I would have looked into OT. I watch the preschoolers at church and there have been 3 year olds who really cry and meltdown when they first join the class and even older kids who do not like to go to class. I really like the book the explosive child but he might be just a little young for that.

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If he does better one to one, maybe he gets sensory overload from human interactions too.

My oldest would only wear cotton clothes that were made in Egypt or made in Jordan when under 2, then he was willing to add made in Vietnam to the lists. My mom was amused looking at all the tags on Carter's baby bodysuits/jumpers.

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I am at my wits end with my 3 year old son. He throws massive fits daily. Bedtime is the only trigger I can count on, otherwise, I live my life waiting for the next thing to set him off. We have eliminated all tv because that seemed to increase the fits. I make sure to have snacks available all the time because hunger makes him uncontrollable.

 

The pediatrician, although surprised at the intensity that I explained, blew me off and said it's extreme but still "normal" and that he'll out grow it by 4. She was surprised that I explained that the behaviors are far from new - in fact he's probably been demonstrating these extreme behaviors from the time he could crawl, starting with massive fights that required full body restraint to change a diaper, leading to breath-holding spells (which would actually be my chance to get the diaper changed because he would stop fighting just long enough).

 

I've been told on the learning challenges board that it's a flag for autism, and he did have delayed speech (which has caught back up with the help of an amazing private SLP). The initial screening at age 2 did not bring up an autism flag. My husband is adamant that it's not autism because he doesn't have other "classic signs".

 

He's Jekyll and Hyde. One minute the nicest sweetest thing ever created and the next he's either crying on the floor or shutting down. He's lately taken to more shutting down behaviors (head and eyes down, no response, will not obey, look at me, or respond in any way) If I try to push obedience, I get a fight and crying fit, so I tend to leave him alone to his behavior (which is what the pediatrician advised I do). But this means that I'm constantly trying to walk the line between fighting him and getting him to obey a simple command. Good days are care-free and responsibility free where he can play all day without any direction from me, so I keep our daily calendar as open as possible.

 

For example, this morning before church he wouldn't let me put his pants on. I tricked him into them only to turn around and see him stripping them back off. He refused his shoes altogether. He refuses to go into his class at church... sits quietly with us in ours instead. Then, when he's hungry and tired of sitting through both the sermon and the first half of Sunday school, he starts to melt down and I remove him before he's disruptive. He sits in the hall unresponsive unless I try to pick him up to take him to his class, at which point he will scream and fight. So I let him sit. My husband got some crackers to feed him and asked him to help open the door, etc, finally got him out of the funk and able to respond again. By now it is time to go home. Now he and dad are at the store together and I guarantee he'll return with the report of having been an angel of obedience and helpfulness.

 

I have been advised to try a gluten free diet because I have an intolerance to gluten so it's in the family and a possible trigger. But my husband does not agree that the behavior is abnormal. "Lots of parents have kids who melt down" "I see behaviors so much worse than this at my school" etc. (he teaches at an inner city school in an area that probably wouldn't be safe to walk alone after dark).

 

So is it normal? Is this just what a "challenging" head-strong boy looks like? I feel helpless and weary from the battles.

We have days like what you describe. I think whether it's normal or not comes down to frequency and intensity of the behaviour not just the behaviour.

 

A couple of things my no 3 didn't do terrible twos but is doing terrible threes. And like yours if he can do whatever he wants all day he's ok but when we have plans and he has to hurry he's a mess. It's hard to know what's normal because with my older kids we had more unscheduled days and it could just be too much.

 

Church days can be a problem for us too and it's only now that I'm realising that the stress of knowing they would have to try to sit still and quiet was triggering before we've even got there.

 

The other thing is for each of my kids the tantrums started shortly after weaning - my youngest fed for longer so I think losing that calming technique impacts it.

 

Clothes are a problem area and sometimes it's worth finding something they are happy to wear and letting them wear it even if it's not right for the occasion.

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Just to add with my dd we used to say she was like the little girl with the curl - when she was good she was very very good and when she was bad she was horrid. she was the worst over clothes but great with food etc. she tends to have more sensory seeking than avoidant behaviours other than with shoes.

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Our oldest was like this at that age. We had a food allergy blood test done and dairy and eggs came up. We went and had those tested by an allergist with a skin test and they also showed up there. We totally eliminated them. It took eight full weeks to get the dairy out of his system. After that he was truly a different child. But whenever he accidentally got even a trace amount of dairy, he would go back to the rage and meltdowns and it would take four days to get him back. Trace amounts of eggs made him want to spin and spin. Both foods would also mess up his digestive tract. We totally avoided these foods for four years. Exposures during the first two years of this were obvious because dairy caused 2-3 days of the old behaviors and upset tummy. After four years, we both foods retested and he was negative. We reintroduced them slowly with no problems. He is fine with them now, so it wasn't forever. He is also calm and happy boy who does not melt down.

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Can he verbalize what he doesn't like about wearing pants? Are they tight around his tummy, or is he too hot with them on, or something else? What senses exactly are bothering him?  As a parent, I'll often make an assumption about why my young child likes or dislikes something, but when I ask what specificially is the issue, it's often completely different than I assumed. And that's when I get a lot closer to to understanding what is going on in their mind and body. 

 

No, he can't tell me why. 

 

 

Just so you know, you have TONS of red flags here.  Issues with pictures, struggling with transitions.  These SCREAM the need for full, proper evals.  I just don't see how you're going to get a diet problem to explain them, and these are CLASSIC, textbook expressions of the problem.  PLEASE get evals.  

 

I get it, really I do! I just don't have the support from my husband for that. I had a long conversation with him last night, though, and got him to understand that even if he disagrees with me that the behavior is "not normal", that I need him to understand that I am not able to continue dealing with it the way it is. That I cannot keep living this way 24/7, because it really is! I get short breaks, but I need more breaks and I need more help and I need strategies to help reduce the behaviors because I cannot cope any longer.

 

He finally started listening, and as I shared with him all of the ideas from here, and started breaking down the behaviors, he agreed to try several things. He's not willing to spend the money on full evaluations yet, but I at least have the groundwork laid so that if diet changes and sensory diet stuff doesn't work, I feel like I have the room to ask for that to get more answers and help.

 

I think a huge help will be keeping a chart. I made an easy to fill out chart last night and I think documenting each fit will give my husband a glimpse into my day and help him see what's going on so that he knows it's not just me overreacting to mild behavior. Yesterday was a bad day with one meltdown after another. But my husband only saw a couple of the fits because he had a job to go to and had him one-on-one at the store in between church and the job and I was right - he was an angel at the store. I try to explain the in-between times but I think he might feel like it's being blown out of proportion.  

 

With documentation of what's going on, I'll have more data for the Dr., too, so that when we do get to the point where I can ask for full evaluations, she can see exactly what's going on and why I want the evals. I think a lot of this is people not willing to take my word for the intensity and frequency of behavior because of how sweet and nice he can be in between. 

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I get it, really I do! I just don't have the support from my husband for that. I had a long conversation with him last night, though, and got him to understand that even if he disagrees with me that the behavior is "not normal", that I need him to understand that I am not able to continue dealing with it the way it is. That I cannot keep living this way 24/7, because it really is! I get short breaks, but I need more breaks and I need more help and I need strategies to help reduce the behaviors because I cannot cope any longer.

 

 

 

You're at that "not normal" point now. Documenting everything is a great idea and I hope it helps your and your husband get on the same page.

 

Your feelings are normal for a situation where things aren't quite right.

 

One of my adhd+ kids is like this. But I didn't see the sweetness much until we got his sleep under control. The kid never slept, even as a baby. He just COULD NOT turn himself off. This past year (5 y/o) a doctor finally started taking us seriously and had us put him on melatonin and a strict bedtime routine. He was a game-changer for us. Now he consistently gets 11-12 hours of sleep at night. He is sweet and fun and cheerful for the first time ever. But he still has adhd and sensory issues. He's still impulsive and emotional. He takes a lot out of us, but it is different now because we no longer feel like we can't cope. At age 3, I think the recommendations are 12-14 hours of sleep per day. If your child isn't getting that consistently, that would be a great place to start. (PM me if you want the recommendations our doctor and sleep specialist gave us.)

 

I don't know where you live, but my state sponsors several clinics that do full-service evals if you have enough red flags for autism or autism-related disorders. From what I understand they have really tightened the range of the spectrum, but there are still kids on the outside with issues that need support. Honestly, I know very little about these things and I rely on my kids' NDP and his team to help us make sense of things. FWIW, I'd drop the word "autism" from your conversations with your dh and switch to more general language. None of my kids have autism, but I do have three with adhd and lots of bonus issues that weren't even on our radar. :) Those evals were invaluable. I completely understand that they aren't an option for you right now, but I think I'd quietly cast a wider net and see if there are any free or low-cost options available to you.

 

I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone and I don't think you're crazy. My husband was pretty resistant to pursuing evals for another one of our children until that child got much older and it was super obvious that there was something going on. Even his doctor kept blowing me off. We both really wish we had aggressively pursued help earlier because it took a lot of stress off of our marriage and our relationship with our child.

 

Good luck!

 

(edited for typo)

Edited by Faithful_Steward
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If he's 3, I think you can still call EI.  Since part of the sticking point is *paying* for evals, that's a way around it.  EI will do some screening for free.

 

By logging in a chart, you mean food?  Fine.  But for behavior, you want ABC=Antecedent + Behavior + Consequence.  That's the only way to see the patterns of the behavior.  So what was he doing before, what was the situation, then what behavior occurred (be SPECIFIC), and then what was the consequence (what you did, what someone else did).  So for instance, a mild example would be dc was hungry at 8am and was sitting at the island (antecedent), he began banging (behavior), and you went and talked him through the sequence of getting breakfast, asking whether he would like cereal or eggs, helping him get his bowl, etc (consequence).  That's the kind of log you need, and it's actually really HARD to do in the moment, because behavior happens so FAST!  What I try to do, when I'm behavior logging, is make little notes and then fill in when things slow down (lunch, etc.).  

 

You mentioned transitions earlier.  My ds has his *worst* behavior in transitions.  I never realized that till I behavior logged.  If you log ABC, it will help you (or a behaviorist or someone trying to help you) to see it.

 

Remember, you can also have layers of things going on.  Sometimes it takes a while to work through.  

 

The other thing to remember is that you don't have to diagnose him.  That's a lot of pressure to bear, and it can lead to inaccurate conclusions.  People well say I didn't see it, I don't think it's a problem, blah blah.  A leading autism research has said there IS NO autistic behavior, that there's just behavior.  So ANY behavior, in isolation, might seem pretty inocuous.  It's when you see all the behaviors together and see the patterns and the degree and the way it's affecting his ability to live, the way he's requiring unusual support to have expected behavior, that it becomes an issue.  For instance, I got video of my ds last week, on a hard day for him, licking paintbrushes.  Seems really inocuous, and my dh was like SO???  But when you realize how methodical it was, how he lined them up, licking, smoothing, licking some more, replacing and going through the line very methodically...  When you see it in CONTEXT of a dc who also has lined up toys around the house and who is very fragile... When you think of it in the context of the antecedent, that he was bolting from his school work and unable to participate... THEN you get to wow, that's not normal.  But maybe just one little thing, only seeing one piece, people would go yeah but I do that too!  It's about the total picture.

 

Video is helpful.  And not every psych will slow down and look at videos, but when *you* take the time to slow down and video and organize the clips by category, *you* will see what's going on.  

 

Fwiw, we eat pretty clean.  Low sugar, organic, no food colorings, little wheat, blah blah.  I think it's fine to make changes like that, and many kids will have layers of challenges.  

 

How is his developmental stuff?  Fine motor?  Gross motor? Speech?  Potty training?  

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If he's 3, I think you can still call EI.  Since part of the sticking point is *paying* for evals, that's a way around it.  EI will do some screening for free.

 

By logging in a chart, you mean food?  Fine.  But for behavior, you want ABC=Antecedent + Behavior + Consequence.  That's the only way to see the patterns of the behavior.  So what was he doing before, what was the situation, then what behavior occurred (be SPECIFIC), and then what was the consequence (what you did, what someone else did).  So for instance, a mild example would be dc was hungry at 8am and was sitting at the island (antecedent), he began banging (behavior), and you went and talked him through the sequence of getting breakfast, asking whether he would like cereal or eggs, helping him get his bowl, etc (consequence).  That's the kind of log you need, and it's actually really HARD to do in the moment, because behavior happens so FAST!  What I try to do, when I'm behavior logging, is make little notes and then fill in when things slow down (lunch, etc.).  

 

-snip-

 

How is his developmental stuff?  Fine motor?  Gross motor? Speech?  Potty training?  

 

Yes, that's the type of behavioral chart I am trying to keep and yes, I'm keeping most of the details after the fact. 

 

Fine motor is very good for his age - he's able to focus and work on fine motor tasks longer than I would expect for his age.

 

Gross motor - right where he should be if not slightly ahead based on questions the ped. asked.

 

Potty training - he is essentially potty trained, but does have accidents sometimes if he waits too long to go to the bathroom. He wears a pull-up at night and still pees in it nightly. He potty trained fully right about at his third birthday.

 

Speech - he had an odd delay (he would vocalize with nasal sounds in the back of his throat and bring no sound forward). EI evaluated him, said it wasn't autism, claimed it might be selective mutism ... sat on my floor 2x a month rewarding him for simply opening his mouth for them even without sound, and shook their heads and said they had no idea what to do with him. I knew language was there, people could understand his grunting sounds as words even without sounds, he had that much inflection down! His receptive language skills were off the charts good from a really really scary young age.

 

I got him into a private SLP who had special training (PROMPT) and she had him speaking in 2 weeks. He's now caught up to age-peers. Not sure he talks to others, though, I'm trying to think of a situation where he talks to someone outside of the family and other than grandparents, to know that others understand his speech...oh, he will still talk to the SLP when we go (we see the SLP for my almost 5 year old for a separate issue).

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For sleep, you could try melatonin. You could also try manipulating the light so that his body makes more melatonin. In the presence of full-spectrum light, the body doesn't make it as well. But you can buy special nightlights etc. that have the blue component of the light filtered out. (See lowbluelights.com.) This would help with his fear and yet allow his body to make melatonin. Another option is cuddling (or even restraining) the kid to sleep instead of expecting independent sleep. This is very hard on the parent, so perhaps try other things first.

 

You might try using "social stories." (Just google it and you'll find out how to write them.) The idea was intended for autistic kids, but I used it for my non-autistic-but-very-difficult child. You can write stories about a wonderful little boy who liked dinosaurs (or whatever your son likes) who has trouble with ______ and how as he grew older he learned to do _______ (desired behavior).

 

In church, does your child get to color or anything? It sounds like he is not ready for his own class, but perhaps having something to do while sitting in church/adult class would help him. I am pretty sure people in church think I coddle my child too much, but I always let her do a quiet activity in church. She's fourteen now, and she knits or draws in church and the idea of not being able to do so is "devastating" to her. In my opinion, it is in everyone's best interest that she does something while listening!

 

I would try not to think in terms of obedience/disobedience with your particular child. That probably makes you feel more upset about his behavior. Think in terms of being able to cooperate vs. not being able to cooperate.

 

On clothes, I would try to find two pairs of pants, however scruffy, that he does not mind wearing as much. Give up the idea of him looking appropriate, and just try to get him properly covered. When my daughter was three, she wore two different dresses, both stained, both getting too small, neither warm enough for winter, but both things she liked. I was always worried that someone might think we were poverty-stricken and take up a collection for us, but they didn't. The next year, I bought some nice, big, new dresses with similar characteristics and she looked much better.

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A couple of additional ideas. I would try to feed him something relatively unobtrusive during the adult church class. Maybe raisins or some other snack that doesn't crunch or produce crumbs. If you think people will object, talk privately to the leader beforehand.

 

Also, you might try sitting with him when he gets in his non-responsive stages. Just be next to him, put your arm around him if he can tolerate that, and just quietly be there. That can be very comforting to a child who feels unable to cope. And it may help him learn to come to you when he is feeling off and seek your help.

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Ok, then you have your explanation on why the ASD isn't getting caught.  I guarantee you it's because of the PROMPT.  The PROMPT is hitting some of what ABA would, and he's learning how to interact with adults.  It's the adults doing his assessments, so they're like oh, see, he's fine!  

 

So what you need to do is leave your other kids with grandma (so you can focus) and take JUST THIS CHILD to the park.  Take him to the park or the mall or library time to play, and see how he responds.  Is his interaction with the other kids age-typical?  Does he need to be prompted?  

 

The other thing is that if he had that, he may have some other language issues going on.  For instance, because my ds has SUCH a high vocabulary (99th percentile), we had NO CLUE that his single sentence comprehension was so low.  He was using his gifts to mask his weaknesses.  Without detailed language testing, you don't realize those gaps are there.  

 

Our SLP (also PROMPT, love!!!) was so, so adamant that he could not be on the spectrum.  She's like, but he comes in and talks with me!  And the psychs and people who meet him are like wow.  But that's the point, that he got that skill that they did with him.  But that didn't give him the skill to do it with other kids.  So then he was 5 and 6 and 7 and I was prompting him.  We started this school year, 7.5, with me still making excuses for him in classes.  I take him to multiple classes at the Y each week to make sure he gets with a variety of kids and has lots of opportunities to practice social skills.  That was where it became apparent to me that he was 5/6/7 and that kids age 3/4 had better conversational skills.  This sweet little 4 yo boy in one class has been so patient with him.  At the beginning of the year, ds didn't even respond to the overtures of the 4 yo.  Now they have nice little times together before and after class.  

 

Anyways, that's one way to see it, to get him with his peers.  When he's with his siblings, it might not be as apparent.

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I think I've definitely mishandled his shutdowns - I always try to get him to come out and respond again, when I might need to just back off and let him decompress. Like he's so overwhelmed by whatever is going on that he can't deal/function and needs time to process/reduce stimuli.

 

We do allow him to color during church, but we also always try to talk him into his class. I need to just pack a bag with a snack or two, coloring stuff, and not even ask him to go to his class. When he reaches an overload point, I'll just take him to the hall and sit quietly with him. I already get enough looks and comments from people who wonder why I don't just force him into his class. I can sit in the hall with him to help him handle the environment better. Then as he learns to trust me, I can start teaching him coping skills. 

 

 

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Ok, then you have your explanation on why the ASD isn't getting caught.  I guarantee you it's because of the PROMPT.  The PROMPT is hitting some of what ABA would, and he's learning how to interact with adults.  It's the adults doing his assessments, so they're like oh, see, he's fine!  

 

So what you need to do is leave your other kids with grandma (so you can focus) and take JUST THIS CHILD to the park.  Take him to the park or the mall or library time to play, and see how he responds.  Is his interaction with the other kids age-typical?  Does he need to be prompted?  

 

The other thing is that if he had that, he may have some other language issues going on.  For instance, because my ds has SUCH a high vocabulary (99th percentile), we had NO CLUE that his single sentence comprehension was so low.  He was using his gifts to mask his weaknesses.  Without detailed language testing, you don't realize those gaps are there.  

 

Our SLP (also PROMPT, love!!!) was so, so adamant that he could not be on the spectrum.  She's like, but he comes in and talks with me!  And the psychs and people who meet him are like wow.  But that's the point, that he got that skill that they did with him.  But that didn't give him the skill to do it with other kids.  So then he was 5 and 6 and 7 and I was prompting him.  We started this school year, 7.5, with me still making excuses for him in classes.  I take him to multiple classes at the Y each week to make sure he gets with a variety of kids and has lots of opportunities to practice social skills.  That was where it became apparent to me that he was 5/6/7 and that kids age 3/4 had better conversational skills.  This sweet little 4 yo boy in one class has been so patient with him.  At the beginning of the year, ds didn't even respond to the overtures of the 4 yo.  Now they have nice little times together before and after class.  

 

Anyways, that's one way to see it, to get him with his peers.  When he's with his siblings, it might not be as apparent.

 

 
I really should do this. My gut reaction is to not do it, because I don't want to see what would happen. He's got two older sisters and a younger brother and he plays nicely with them (well, mostly nicely, typical sibling stuff) and he's especially attached to his closest in age sister. When they have friends over, he plays with them too, but I don't see him directing play, interacting on his own outside of sibling stuff or parallel play. Without watching him play at the park without siblings I can't know for sure, but my gut says he'd play by himself or throw a fit for me to play with him. He'd be lost. 
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Like he's so overwhelmed by whatever is going on that he can't deal/function and needs time to process/reduce stimuli.

...

I already get enough looks and comments from people who wonder why I don't just force him into his class.

Make him a safe corner for "time-out". My oldest uses to crawl under my piano bench as his safe corner. Else he will make a fortress out of cushions and hide there.

 

For sleeping, a weighted blanket might help. I just rest my hand on my kid's chest area until he fall asleep. My kid describe not being able to sleep as "I am tired but my brain can't stop thinking so I can't sleep."

 

My oldest had a meltdown at a corner outside a store when he was that age. Not safe to force carry him to the car at that time with heavy traffic at the parking area. A lady with her parents walk by and made a nasty comment. Her mom told her daughter that she had worst days as a kid. The daughter looked shocked and walked quickly away.

 

People sometimes forget what it was like to be a three year old. Kids have bad days regardless of age, some are just so used to holding it in when in public view.

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My son has adhd. When he was 3 every single interaction I had with him was a fight. Each and every single interaction. This went on for a full year. The child seemed to just hate me. No matter what I said, he would do the opposite. He would scream, fight, yell, whatever.

 

What is going on with your son could be as simple as adhd or a food intolerence or something more complex. Keep an eye on patterns and start with eliminating different foods and see if that helps first.

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I think I've definitely mishandled his shutdowns - I always try to get him to come out and respond again, when I might need to just back off and let him decompress. Like he's so overwhelmed by whatever is going on that he can't deal/function and needs time to process/reduce stimuli.

 

We do allow him to color during church, but we also always try to talk him into his class. I need to just pack a bag with a snack or two, coloring stuff, and not even ask him to go to his class. When he reaches an overload point, I'll just take him to the hall and sit quietly with him. I already get enough looks and comments from people who wonder why I don't just force him into his class. I can sit in the hall with him to help him handle the environment better. Then as he learns to trust me, I can start teaching him coping skills. 

The problem with random parenting and attempting to deal with it on your own is that one thing will provoke the next problem without you even knowing why.  So you're like oh, I'll let him go.  Well you just let him conclude that X behavior gets him out of things!  So watch and see what happens, but you'll probably see MORE problem behaviors as you do these random interventions.

 

And I'll just be really dismal and say that your oh when he gets older and a little more stable I'll teach him coping skills WON'T be so easy.  There are books, courses, workshops on this stuff.  It's why ABA exists and why people earn $75 an hour doing it.

 

If anything, you need to read Zones of Regulation and The Explosive Child.  Between the two, I think you'd learn enough to at least let you start seeing the patterns to what is going on.  I would urge you to get them both.  It really takes time to start to watch your kids and see the progression of their behavior.  Then you have words for it.

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I really should do this. My gut reaction is to not do it, because I don't want to see what would happen. He's got two older sisters and a younger brother and he plays nicely with them (well, mostly nicely, typical sibling stuff) and he's especially attached to his closest in age sister. When they have friends over, he plays with them too, but I don't see him directing play, interacting on his own outside of sibling stuff or parallel play. Without watching him play at the park without siblings I can't know for sure, but my gut says he'd play by himself or throw a fit for me to play with him. He'd be lost. 

 

So you're scared of the truth?  You can do this.  You just have to be honest about it.  And maybe he'll be FINE!  But if he's not, and if you take him (and do it several times), you'll start to see things.  You'll see where he was using his *siblings* for support and rather than having to initiate.  You'll see where he was skating by without having to use his speech or non-verbals to communicate.  You'll see whether he responds to social attempts by other kids.  You can't see that when he's surrounded by his siblings.

 

So yes, be honest, be brave, go do it.  If nothing else, it's sweet together time.  You can do it with each of your kids if you want!  :)

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