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Effective counseling for resistant teen


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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

N's thought was to let him skip breakfast and feel the natural consequences of being hungry. But DS won't feel hungry, so that means being at school for the whole day with no nutrition, so I'm not okay with it, given his trouble with academics as it is.

My goal would be for DS to work through somehow to accepting that he needs to eat, even when he doesn't feel hungry, to think of food as necessary fuel. DS is a really really long way from having this view, but working toward it would be good, not only so that he can eat breakfast, but so that he can understand how to switch his thinking and listen to other points of view.

I would rather that N help DS work through his thinking on problems like this, but instead he seems to be always on DS's side. "Okay, how can we help your parents understand that you don't want to eat?"

And it's not about "sides" but about helping DS be able to accept our point of view sometimes. Because not being able to accept a point of view other than your own is a big big problem, much greater than the example of not wanting to eat breakfast.

And being able to interact with people that you disagree with without being rude. What I typed out up there does not include the angry inflection and yelling and hostility involved.

The counselor seems to be getting one set of priorities (disagreeing without being rude) but not really the other.

Do you have some areas you could ask for help on that don't involve you guys or authority but are more neutral and not dependent on your son following through on a specific behavior? It seems like this is like zumba--what you think is one "move" is really a million little moves glued together. I can't do zumba without zumba-specific therapy that breaks it down into concrete, discrete steps. 😉 

 

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My ASD kid is not oppositional.  But while she talks (a lot), she hasn't talked EFFECTIVELY with any counselors.  She made major progress with a counselor who did sand tray work, but in that case, eve

I would not be comfortable with the not eating and losing weight either, starving brains do not function well--things can get really wacky when a brain is not getting the nutrition it needs 

Thanks for your thoughts! I'm probably not going to get to a place where I am comfortable with him only eating between the hours of 5pm and 8pm each day. I'm just not. And if there are no battles over

37 minutes ago, Terabith said:

My ASD kid is not oppositional.  But while she talks (a lot), she hasn't talked EFFECTIVELY with any counselors.  She made major progress with a counselor who did sand tray work, but in that case, even the therapist had no idea what she was working out, but we all agreed she was clearly working out something.  And she got much better, and we stopped.  A few years later, we tried again with a more traditional talk therapist, but it was pretty pointless.  Honestly, the adult who seems to "get her" the best has been her Wilson tutor.  I felt that that relationship was so valuable that after we finished Wilson, we've kept her on as a general "tutor," but mostly just so she continues to have an adult in her life who gets her and who can advocate for her and who can tell us if she sees red flags.  And incidentally helps her with math.  

These kinds of relationships seem to be what keeps my son out of talk therapy (in a "hasn't needed it yet" way)--people genuinely like working with him, and he's had a couple of intervention people of various kinds, including music teachers who do well with non-NT kids, that are 2e or likely 2e themselves, and they just "get" him. His school counselor when we tried school did play therapy a bit. 

Adults who can relate to kids as near-peers while also mentoring them and teaching them seem to be key. Some adults just don't relate to kids that way, and for kids who are not typical, the gap can be bigger. But if things are approached as just you and me doing life (with a little shove at first that is more bossy), it seems to go really well. 

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14 minutes ago, kbutton said:

The counselor seems to be getting one set of priorities (disagreeing without being rude) but not really the other.

Do you have some areas you could ask for help on that don't involve you guys or authority but are more neutral and not dependent on your son following through on a specific behavior? It seems like this is like zumba--what you think is one "move" is really a million little moves glued together. I can't do zumba without zumba-specific therapy that breaks it down into concrete, discrete steps. 😉 

 

Good thought. I will think about this. Because DS has the most problems interacting with us, it makes it the hardest point to start with, so picking something else might be helpful. The goal we are working on most consistently now is DS doing his bedtime routine without battles. We're trying to remove or step back our interactions with him at bedtime by having him follow a checklist, but he's not independent with it yet.

That goal works, because it's actionable, and measurable, and DS agrees with it, so he's willing to try. But it still involves us as parents.

In the fall, the counselor set the documented goals based on what DS told him, so that they would be DS's goals. I think there were three, and I can only remember two. I'll ask N to review the goals with me this afternoon.

I think if we can find a small goal that DS wants and have him work toward it on his own and have success, that that would be a good step forward, even if the small goal does not directly address our main concerns.

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11 minutes ago, kbutton said:

These kinds of relationships seem to be what keeps my son out of talk therapy (in a "hasn't needed it yet" way)--people genuinely like working with him, and he's had a couple of intervention people of various kinds, including music teachers who do well with non-NT kids, that are 2e or likely 2e themselves, and they just "get" him. His school counselor when we tried school did play therapy a bit. 

Adults who can relate to kids as near-peers while also mentoring them and teaching them seem to be key. Some adults just don't relate to kids that way, and for kids who are not typical, the gap can be bigger. But if things are approached as just you and me doing life (with a little shove at first that is more bossy), it seems to go really well. 

Yes! A select ball coach who has done one on one training with ds just “gets” him and how to get the best out of him b-ball wise. He is an intuitive type who genuinely cares about kids. No training or experience with ASD at all - he just likes my kid and appreciates how hard he works at his game even when he is clearly working under a heavy burden due to sensory or anxiety issues. 

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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

He really just can't see things from another point of view. It's a big stumbling block. Here is a simplified version of a conversation that we have daily.

DS: Why do I have to eat breakfast? I'm not hungry. It's dumb.

DH or me: Because you don't eat lunch after you have taken your meds, so you need to eat now. You need energy for the school day, so that you can learn.

DS: That's dumb. I'm not hungry. I hate school and don't want to learn. You guys are mean on purpose. Idiots.

Interspersed with yelling and stomping, etc, and generally poor and hostile interactions with us.

We've been working on the breakfast things for years and have tried a bunch of ideas, and my point of posting is not really to talk about breakfast. But just to show that he can't take in an idea that is not his own, even when the idea is logical, and even when the idea has been repeated daily for years and years and years.

And even when he has asked the question!! He won't listen to the answer, because he doesn't like it.

N's thought was to let him skip breakfast and feel the natural consequences of being hungry. But DS won't feel hungry, so that means being at school for the whole day with no nutrition, so I'm not okay with it, given his trouble with academics as it is.

My goal would be for DS to work through somehow to accepting that he needs to eat, even when he doesn't feel hungry, to think of food as necessary fuel. DS is a really really long way from having this view, but working toward it would be good, not only so that he can eat breakfast, but so that he can understand how to switch his thinking and listen to other points of view.

I would rather that N help DS work through his thinking on problems like this, but instead he seems to be always on DS's side. "Okay, how can we help your parents understand that you don't want to eat?"

And it's not about "sides" but about helping DS be able to accept our point of view sometimes. Because not being able to accept a point of view other than your own is a big big problem, much greater than the example of not wanting to eat breakfast.

And being able to interact with people that you disagree with without being rude. What I typed out up there does not include the angry inflection and yelling and hostility involved.

And then sometimes I think that well, at least he does not interact in that way with anyone other than DH and me. So perhaps the ultimate solution is for him to grow up and not have to live with us, and that we just have to endure it, because we haven't been able to effect change.

But then I think about him having a girlfriend or a wife and kids, and it just worries me so much that I hope he does not. And then I feel badly, because I don't want him to be lonely, And then I say that even if we don't improve our relationship with him, that it's worth it for him to work on skills that he can use with other people.

And N's advice is for us to let him skip breakfast and to work hard not to raise our own voices when he raises his.

Which is not horrible advice, but is just kind of advice lite, if you know what I mean.

I know it can take time to dig down to the issues, and I do value that DS likes N and hope that the relationship can grow, and I do think that if we try to switch counselors, there is no guarantee that someone else might be someone that DS likes as well or who will help him make further progress.

And maybe this kind of stuff is more the realm of a language focused SLP, if we can find one that DS likes. He likes his SLP at school, and she understands his issues, but there just is not enough time with her, and she and her employer do not do private therapy.

 

I have a similar kid (breakfast example). I can restate a simple, logical fact 1,000 times but he may not accept it. He is better at 19 than he was at 15, though. I took to telling him I had explained this many times and asking him to repeat my explanation. Saved me some breath and mental energy that way. The need to brush his teeth was one of those issues. $1,000 of cavities filled a couple of years ago helped some because his argument had been “But I don’t get cavities”. He still doesn’t always brush his teeth twice a day, though. 

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1 hour ago, Terabith said:

My ASD kid is not oppositional.  But while she talks (a lot), she hasn't talked EFFECTIVELY with any counselors.  She made major progress with a counselor who did sand tray work, but in that case, even the therapist had no idea what she was working out, but we all agreed she was clearly working out something.  And she got much better, and we stopped.  A few years later, we tried again with a more traditional talk therapist, but it was pretty pointless.  Honestly, the adult who seems to "get her" the best has been her Wilson tutor.  I felt that that relationship was so valuable that after we finished Wilson, we've kept her on as a general "tutor," but mostly just so she continues to have an adult in her life who gets her and who can advocate for her and who can tell us if she sees red flags.  And incidentally helps her with math.  

Ahhh, the magic of non directive sand therapy play! A hard sell week after week with parents, though. 😄

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26 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

Good thought. I will think about this. Because DS has the most problems interacting with us, it makes it the hardest point to start with, so picking something else might be helpful. The goal we are working on most consistently now is DS doing his bedtime routine without battles. We're trying to remove or step back our interactions with him at bedtime by having him follow a checklist, but he's not independent with it yet.

That goal works, because it's actionable, and measurable, and DS agrees with it, so he's willing to try. But it still involves us as parents.

In the fall, the counselor set the documented goals based on what DS told him, so that they would be DS's goals. I think there were three, and I can only remember two. I'll ask N to review the goals with me this afternoon.

I think if we can find a small goal that DS wants and have him work toward it on his own and have success, that that would be a good step forward, even if the small goal does not directly address our main concerns.

Agreed with your last paragraph. My ds does very little of what we would choose for him to do (we have mostly given up on most expectations in the face of the mental health challenges), but he wanted to decrease his anxiety so this is what he works on in therapy. It’s a good place to start, both because he chose it and because the rest of life is pretty irrelevant if he is incapacitated by his mood disorders, which has happened and still does at times.  

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2 hours ago, kbutton said:

 

Hmm...do you think that maybe anxiety is at play? Like language difficulties, I think that's another kind of pervasive thing with autism that can seem like the problem is something else, but really, it's just anxiety.

Maybe it's less anxiety producing to think, "My parents are the problem" than it is to think, "I need to change, and it will be hard to learn new skills." And of course, feeling it/reacting to it and thinking it in words are not the same thing--you can just feel it and not really understand that's what's up.

 

My ds’s primary disabling condition is anxiety. Second to that is the deficient theory of mind that only allows him to see things from his perspective.  Take heart, though! My ds has begun having progress in the area of theory of mind, though. I credit my relentless work over years with him (ha!) and, more recently, friendships with two sweet neurotypical girls his age who have helped him to see and feel another person’s point of view because he cares about them and sees them in emotional distress so wants to understand and support. Fabulous! ❤️

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1 hour ago, kbutton said:

I am not surprised it works. I wonder if something that disrupts responses to trauma can disrupt less than ideal ingrained responses to things that are not trauma and/or "everything" is somewhat traumatic as a relative thing when you're different from the norm. 

It creates calm and then helps build new neural pathways to lock this in. My ds’s anxiety was severe so comparable to someone with a trauma history. Different cause but similar brain mechanism. 

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3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

DS is not going to be able to follow through with working on goals unless DH and I are in the loop and are working together with him at home. Because 30-45 minutes of talking with someone in a room once a week is not enough. The work in between is what will make the difference, but it's DH and me who have to ensure that happens, because DS has no initiative.

Yes. That's where we are too. There can be ideas, but he needs support to get there. It's really kind of idealism and pie in the sky to say he'll get there on his own. Maybe at 20 or 30, lol.

3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

We are adjusting his clonidine this month. We may make another change to the clonidine at our next appointment. If that's not enough, we may add Strattera to our mix. Then we move on from there to other things. We could, I suppose, tell the nurse practitioner (works under a psychiatrist) that we want to jump ahead to the mood stabilizers, and maybe she would agree, but we decided to do it this way.

What does clonidine do? I've seen it mentioned in places. Will Straterra help with mood? So just googlefu, but it's an alpha agonist for the ADHD. But what you're describing as the problem isn't so much impulsivity as mood. I get wanting to try one thing at a time. But if he's on 2-3 things for the ADHD piece, isn't that enough to move over to mood?? Mood might be the elephant in the room. And there's no working through the irrationality of the mood problems.

Someone mentioned complexity. I've run genetics on my kids, etc. and from what I can see genetics of mood are COMPLEX. Hard stuff. It's the stuff I'm now least likely to think is in the "try harder" camp, because it's so, so chemical in nature. Now your thoughts can drive chemistry and make it worse, sure. But that chemistry, if it's a mess (because of genetics), that's just swimming uphill. And you've dealt with this for so long. That's what I would be asking, why his mood is that negative, irrational, etc., and whether it would improve with work on chemistry. 

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57 minutes ago, Storygirl said:

In the fall, the counselor set the documented goals based on what DS told him, so that they would be DS's goals.

My ds got to talk with Jim Taylor at OCALICON, and if you don't know Jim Taylor, I guess google him. He's an interesting fellow. Anyways, JT has been in the field a long time, and when I shared with him that my ds was a lot like the young man JT had talked about in his sessions, JT got very serious. And then JT (because remember, people who know autism use very few words) said "Where do you see yourself when you're 30?" He looked right at him. And then he said "What do you see as your biggest problem now?" And then "What are you going to do about it?"

And in a way it's the whole throw it in the kid's camp, but it wasn't. If the goals aren't what he really needs, then even the goals don't matter. And it was really obvious that for ds to get where ds wants to go, he's going to need significant support. But it was that complete backing up and reframing that helped.

Do *you* feel like you get the time with your ds that you need in order to pair and be helpful to him? Or do you feel distracted and pulled in a lot of directions? I'm just asking. My kids are 10 years apart, and it's very hard to be different things at once and meet their divergent needs. By the time I add dh to the mix, it's very hard to split myself 3 ways and do any of them well. Even worse if I actually take care of myself. 

I'm saying I agree with you that YOU are always the magic in this process. Your relationshp is where it's at. I like your idea of meeting together afterward. Didn't you hire a transition coordinator or something? What happened to them?

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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

The goal we are working on most consistently now is DS doing his bedtime routine without battles.

Makes you wonder why, of all things, that's the battle for him. I get that you have reasons you want it done, blah blah, but I'm just saying why is it important for HIM to put energy into fighting on that? I think it's a normal age to push, and they try to find some place to push. But why bedtimes??? LOLO I mean, usually it's like hair or boyfriends or what you wear or sneaking stuff. I don't know, what kind of function does it serve for him to push like that? What does he get out of it? 

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3 hours ago, Lecka said:

Look, there are so many risks to changing.  
 

First, you have no evidence of the guy not having the ability.  It is just going slow.  Well — that is reality.

Fwiw, I'm with Lecka that I'd probably be slow to change. You have some good tweaks. I'd be more interested to see what happens with mood medication and the change for how the parents are brought in. For me with ds, if the appts are going well (ie. he's going without fussing), I usually figure he's getting SOMETHING out of it.

2 hours ago, Storygirl said:

DS: Why do I have to eat breakfast? I'm not hungry. It's dumb.

DH or me: Because you don't eat lunch after you have taken your meds, so you need to eat now. You need energy for the school day, so that you can learn.

DS: That's dumb. I'm not hungry. I hate school and don't want to learn. You guys are mean on purpose. Idiots.

My ds calls people idiots a lot. It's preferable to profanity. With the amount of meds he's on, he might not be hungry. As far as eating, I'm really b&w, so I tell him about blood sugar. Do you have to make it so personal and a command? Like what if he just takes his blood sugar and he eats when it's low? He's told his meds affect hunger and that you don't want him to pass out from low blood sugar and get a concussion. As long as his blood sugar is fine, you don't give a rip if he eats or not. It doesn't have to be personal. Then it's the numbers deciding.

The way to de-escalate is to drop demands. Here's your back-up plan if your blood sugar goes low, fine no skin off my hide. I mean, are you going to keep telling him to eat? Soon he'll be 18 and leave, and you probably WANT him to live independently. So what does it look like for him to live in an independent setting and take his meds, not have an appetite, and stay well? What compromises could you have there? What does he need to live well independently? 

Did you guys ever work on interoception? You keep talking about eating, and you can't know that you need to eat or what you want to eat unless your interoception is working. So it might be working on interoception would get some progress. Might also, in the long run, help him realize his moods and self-advocate better there. Maybe get the interoception curriculum and ask this counselor to go through it with him. They clearly have rapport, and it's easy to use.

Edited by PeterPan
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2 hours ago, Lecka said:

Is there any chance of embedding perspective taking into his reading instruction?

So just as an observation, it's possible that poor interoception is the reason the perspective taking instruction he has almost assuredly has hasn't STUCK or made a difference. If you don't realize how YOU feel, then you're not in a position to realize or predict how OTHERS feel. 

And yeah, the counselor could do this. It could have surprising results and help him begin to realize and solve his own problems. And it's something that can be more visual, less language. 

https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/

Edited by PeterPan
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30 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Is that going to be a school or a summer program or something else? Exciting!

Assuming he doesn't get put on the wait list, he's going to the local career center for just the vocational stuff, not academics. He wants to go into the building trades. Cars are out because he is not interested at all in the direction that cars are going with computerization. He made a really good impression at the sophomore open house and the parent/family open house, and his grades are good, so I think he's likely to get in. The local job market for building trades is super hot.

It definitely fits his temperament and interests (observational and how he tests on Meyers-Briggs). While he's been watching car shows more lately, he started watching This Old House at around age 2 and was enthralled (tried to apply what he he would see, etc.); he's been helping us remodel and update stuff in our old house and our current one we bought a couple of years ago. We have enough projects and documentation via pictures that he could put together a portfolio at this point. He needs supervision and instruction, but he's game to try anything, and he picks it up fast.

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33 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

As far as eating, I'm really b&w, so I tell him about blood sugar. Do you have to make it so personal and a command? Like what if he just takes his blood sugar and he eats when it's low? He's told his meds affect hunger and that you don't want him to pass out from low blood sugar and get a concussion. As long as his blood sugar is fine, you don't give a rip if he eats or not. It doesn't have to be personal. Then it's the numbers deciding.

The way to de-escalate is to drop demands. Here's your back-up plan if your blood sugar goes low, fine no skin off my hide.

I haven't really gotten on to the eating breakfast thing because it's just an illustration and she said she's tried a lot, but I'll bite on some of this because I agree with a lot of it while seeing lots of potential problems too (extrapolating from our experience).

Agree--this is far less confrontational, and it involves a problem and a solution. It's less of a power struggle. Interoception is probably a good area for work even if it's not the key issue for him. He is not an ideal age for this to be a hill to die on. 

Potential Problems--even if interoception is a problem, does interoception solve missing cause/effect or attribution? I know people that would be more invested in believing something illogical after proof, and then we'd be back and step 1. Does interoception solve the magical thinking problem that often goes with ADHD ("I won't pass out even if I get low blood sugar"). What kind of buy in would be necessary to get him to check his blood sugar? For my son, that would be an aversive, and it might work to get him to eat because he wouldn't want to poke himself to do the sugar check, but most people don't really recommend using aversives (they are ridiculously effective with my son). 

No matter how many ways things are sliced and diced, Storygirl really needs to find the lynch pin of the whole matter or find *some* issue where the lynch pin is obvious and something she can build on for success, and I think that's what you are saying too.

It seems like her son has multiple significant "starting point" challenges and gives few hints as to what could move him forward. In our home, the magical thinking has not been a part of my ASD kid's issues for a long time, and neither has the strong sense of arguing something illogical (though it can happen from time to time, it's rare). But it is a big issue with other people in my house that have ADHD, so that's why I put it out there.

But yes, I agree that finding an inarguable position that is not personal is a place to start if there is some logic that works with him.

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1 hour ago, kbutton said:

even if interoception is a problem, does interoception solve missing cause/effect or attribution? I know people that would be more invested in believing something illogical after proof,

So interoception is about self awareness that helps them problem solve, self-advocate, and understand others better. But remember what I said earlier, if the person is spitting out psycho babble and being irrational, I'm still back to meds.

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1 hour ago, kbutton said:

What kind of buy in would be necessary to get him to check his blood sugar? For my son, that would be an aversive, and it might work to get him to eat because he wouldn't want to poke himself to do the sugar check, but most people don't really recommend using aversives (they are ridiculously effective with my son). 

I'm an extremely b&w person and I deal in extremely b&w ways. So yes, that was my point. He gets a logical plan B, a totally workable plan, and then he goes no way don't want that, so he chooses plan A.

Also, aren't there some apple watch apps that are measuring blood sugar? I almost think there are. The technology is moving that way.

1 hour ago, kbutton said:

Storygirl really needs to find the lynch pin of the whole matter or find *some* issue where the lynch pin is obvious and something she can build on for success, and I think that's what you are saying too.

Bingo. And for many things she's listing, interoception is lynch pin. And ironically the counselor OUGHT to like it, because it first and foremost puts the attention back on self-responsibility, the thing the counselor wants.

But I go back to my point. They don't really know what they're doing and they aren't omniscient. I haven't found an omniscient professional yet. But if you're lucky, they're FLEXIBLE and when you suggest something they realize it makes sense and they want to try it. And since there's tons of research going on with interoception and since it's available with an easy to use curriculum, you would think the counselor could get on board. And it can be done with an emphasis on visual to drop language demands, and it can bump all the other things they want to happen. And it only takes *8 weeks* to get through the curriculum. So it's not like a ton of time. At that point the counselor will realize all the things it was affecting and probably have much better rapport and a way to talk about things and problem solve together.

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42 minutes ago, Lecka said:

Maybe interception would help with just feeling full and hungry?  I think it covers that?  
 

 

You can leave out the just, haha. Interoception work, properly done, is going to change his MINDSET to pro-active self-awareness and problem solving. That's the bigger point of why it works. It's not whether you win on sensing hunger or pottying or headaches or emotions. It's that they're taking RESPONSIBILITY for what they're feeling and how they're problem solving. 

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That's the most astonishing thing I see on the FB group for interoception, people shifting from whining and blameshifting and saying it's all their body's fault or someone else's fault to saying WOW I CAN CHANGE IF I DO SOMETHING. It's an entire mindset shift on how they problem solve.

I still think I'd consider the mood meds, because you might not even get him in the door doing the interoception work. Maybe, maybe not. You can talk it through with the counselor. I don't dispense meds, so I'm not saying. If meds could get him ready to receive instruction and then you bring in the instruction, who knows.

But you know, that resistant profile is considered very hard to work with. It's not people are glamorous about it like oh if you just did this it would work. It's considered the HARDEST PROFILE. Probably the biggest reason to stay positive as much as possible, dropping demands, reframing, etc. 

Dropping language with demands was good advice btw. I'm losing the context, but yes if I expect challenges I drop language and only point. 

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I'm an extremely b&w person and I deal in extremely b&w ways. So yes, that was my point. He gets a logical plan B, a totally workable plan, and then he goes no way don't want that, so he chooses plan A.

Lol! Okay. I may be overgeneralizing about what is an aversive, but it's good to know someone with a stake in things doesn't think that approach is necessarily bad. 

Quote

 And it can be done with an emphasis on visual to drop language demands, and it can bump all the other things they want to happen. And it only takes *8 weeks* to get through the curriculum. So it's not like a ton of time. At that point the counselor will realize all the things it was affecting and probably have much better rapport and a way to talk about things and problem solve together.

I keep forgetting the curriculum is not a huge time investment. That makes a big difference.

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I'm behind on reading responses now, because I was gone for awhile at DS's appointment, and then all of the things that generally happen here in the evenings to wind up the day. I'm too drained to think more about it tonight (we're making euthanasia decisions today for our sweet old kitty, and that has just sapped me; we're thinking Friday will be her final day 😥). It was a good day for me to start this thread, because I needed the distraction, but I ran out of time to get through all of your helpful comments. I'll catch up tomorrow. Thanks, friends!

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8 hours ago, kbutton said:

Lol! Okay. I may be overgeneralizing about what is an aversive, but it's good to know someone with a stake in things doesn't think that approach is necessarily bad. 

I think it's conspicuous that the NT people are like no, you must FEEL this and that and rationalize it through the way we say, and the people who are more in that world are like wow, can't you just drop the metaphors and be b&w about it? I really like the Way to A mindset, just b&w, here are the consequences of each choice, I hope you make a good choice, no skin off my hide. Sometimes it's hard to set things up so it's not about you. Working on that way to A helps me frame it that way to him and reframe it for myself. Sometimes that point IS that it will affect me, but even way to A makes that clear. (If you go path A, we will be happy, we will get to do such and such, we'll have a nice evening together. If you go path B, we will be stressed and grouchy, you won't get to do such and such, it will ruin our evening and you will sit alone while I go on without you to have my nice evening.)

So to the extent it's aversive, it's just showing that an outcome of the path is not what he'd probably choose if he thought through it. But it's not a THREAT and it's not something I'm not willing to do. It's more just making the paths clear. We can have more paths, we can have more choices, these will be the outcomes of each path, and if you're willing to deal with those consequences fine. And then setting it up so it doesn't affect you so much along the way and become a weapon. 

It's a lot of hard stuff, that's for sure.  

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I think it's conspicuous that the NT people are like no, you must FEEL this and that and rationalize it through the way we say, and the people who are more in that world are like wow, can't you just drop the metaphors and be b&w about it? I really like the Way to A mindset, just b&w, here are the consequences of each choice, I hope you make a good choice, no skin off my hide. Sometimes it's hard to set things up so it's not about you. Working on that way to A helps me frame it that way to him and reframe it for myself. Sometimes that point IS that it will affect me, but even way to A makes that clear. (If you go path A, we will be happy, we will get to do such and such, we'll have a nice evening together. If you go path B, we will be stressed and grouchy, you won't get to do such and such, it will ruin our evening and you will sit alone while I go on without you to have my nice evening.)

So to the extent it's aversive, it's just showing that an outcome of the path is not what he'd probably choose if he thought through it. But it's not a THREAT and it's not something I'm not willing to do. It's more just making the paths clear. We can have more paths, we can have more choices, these will be the outcomes of each path, and if you're willing to deal with those consequences fine. And then setting it up so it doesn't affect you so much along the way and become a weapon. 

It's a lot of hard stuff, that's for sure.  

This can be an effective approach for most people, on the spectrum or NT. 
 

As a related aside, much of traditional talk therapy techniques have been discarded in favor of short-term, solution-focused approaches. There are some neuroplasticity approaches that don’t even require the client to speak much of the experience or feelings. The past, feelings, and causality take a back seat to change to meet a client’s goals going forward.  Motivational interviewing techniques pretty effectively point out client resistance to change in such a way that the insight is client-achieved, not imparted by a therapist. Make no mistake, the Carl Rogers’ qualities of congruence (genuineness), unconditional positive regard, and accurate empathic understanding creates a safe holding space for clients to work in that is crucial. Being a therapist is part science and part art. There is a goodness of fit concept between therapist and client. But research demonstrates that about 50% of change/healing happens as a result of the relationship connection. Humans are, at heart, very relational beings. 
 

Emotional dysregulation is the norm with ASD. It takes time, maturity, and courage for someone on the spectrum to work on this. The NT world does not make sense to them - and they are not wrong. One of the gifts of autism is honesty. My son can sometimes boil a complex problem down to a single, accurate insight. AND he’s not shy about expressing it. His delivery is sometimes not pretty but I cannot argue with his insight. 
 

As an empath, I can experience a similar sensory overload with other people’s emotions. Emotions are everywhere. They float in rooms of people, they hang like a cloud over some people, they hover in the atmosphere like a collective experience. 
But emotions are part of our experience of being human, and they allow us to connect with others. They warn us of danger, and they provide strength and courage when needed. 
 

As my son gets older, I see more and more of his heart, and I’m grateful for that. He is not often able to tolerate the closeness of strong emotional connections, what we would call “love”. But there are times when I cannot, either. It burns. It’s just too much some days. 
 

If I have something to offer in these ESFJ ramblings, it would be some acceptance and patience, I believe. And kindness to ourselves as parents doing a hard thing with no preparation for it. We are just figuring it all out one step at a time. There isn’t one right way to do this. Our kids are struggling under a heavy burden. They live in a world not accepting of them and their unique gifts and challenges. 

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12 minutes ago, texasmama said:

Emotional dysregulation is the norm with ASD. It takes time, maturity, and courage for someone on the spectrum to work on this. The NT world does not make sense to them - and they are not wrong. One of the gifts of autism is honesty. My son can sometimes boil a complex problem down to a single, accurate insight. AND he’s not shy about expressing it. His delivery is sometimes not pretty but I cannot argue with his insight. 
 

As an empath, I can experience a similar sensory overload with other people’s emotions. Emotions are everywhere. They float in rooms of people, they hang like a cloud over some people, they hover in the atmosphere like a collective experience. 
But emotions are part of our experience of being human, and they allow us to connect with others. They warn us of danger, and they provide strength and courage when needed. 
 

As my son gets older, I see more and more of his heart, and I’m grateful for that. He is not often able to tolerate the closeness of strong emotional connections, what we would call “love”. But there are times when I cannot, either. It burns. It’s just too much some days. 

Oh my.  So much this!  Cat is incredibly insightful.  And incredibly empathic.  Someone asked her sister if her panic attacks were any better, and Anna was like, "I don't know.  I'm not sure."  And Cat was like, "I can be in the same room with you now.  You're not the churning ball of constant anxiety that you were."  When I had surgery, she had to avoid me (and actually spent a lot of time out of the house) because she felt my pain too much.  It's not at all a lack of empathy.  It's too MUCH empathy.  She disconnects from others because she feels it too deeply.  And maybe because of that disconnection, she sees things other people don't see.  She's really incredibly insightful and incredibly funny, if very very blunt.  

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22 hours ago, PeterPan said:

 

What does clonidine do? I've seen it mentioned in places. Will Straterra help with mood? So just googlefu, but it's an alpha agonist for the ADHD. But what you're describing as the problem isn't so much impulsivity as mood. I get wanting to try one thing at a time. But if he's on 2-3 things for the ADHD piece, isn't that enough to move over to mood?? Mood might be the elephant in the room. And there's no working through the irrationality of the mood problems.

Someone mentioned complexity. I've run genetics on my kids, etc. and from what I can see genetics of mood are COMPLEX. Hard stuff. It's the stuff I'm now least likely to think is in the "try harder" camp, because it's so, so chemical in nature. Now your thoughts can drive chemistry and make it worse, sure. But that chemistry, if it's a mess (because of genetics), that's just swimming uphill. And you've dealt with this for so long. That's what I would be asking, why his mood is that negative, irrational, etc., and whether it would improve with work on chemistry. 

He started clonidine years ago for tics (Tourettes), and it also helps him sleep. Some people do use it for ADHD. Because he has taken it only at night, and it wears off by the morning (although we think it helps residually with tics during the day), we haven't explored the full effect that it can have for helping the ADHD, so that's what we are doing now. We are adding a smaller (so he doesn't feel sleepy) daytime dose. I'm hopeful that it will take some of the edge off. But we give it in the morning, so it's mostly in his system while he's at school. I think our next step will be to add an afterschool dose, which is possible to do without going over the max dosage.

What I've learned about Strattera is from a little online research, but also from this book https://www.amazon.com/Straight-about-Psychiatric-Medications-Fourth/dp/1462519857/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3MD5YQHHHZ9ME&keywords=straight+talk+about+psychiatric+medications+for+kids&qid=1579804201&sprefix=straight+talk+about+%2Caps%2C221&sr=8-1

I'm not any kind of expert, but this is what I wrote in my notes about Strattera --
*Recommended when ADHD is comorbid with tics, anxiety, depression, ODD
*Can be combined with stimulant meds
*Can help with EF and opposition
*Works similarly to older tricyclic antidepressants
*Works by making norepinephrine and dopamine avaible

So I think it's worth a try. We have to be careful about what we choose, so that it doesn't exacerbate tics.

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On 1/22/2020 at 1:30 PM, Terabith said:

My ASD kid is not oppositional.  But while she talks (a lot), she hasn't talked EFFECTIVELY with any counselors.  She made major progress with a counselor who did sand tray work, but in that case, even the therapist had no idea what she was working out, but we all agreed she was clearly working out something.  And she got much better, and we stopped.  A few years later, we tried again with a more traditional talk therapist, but it was pretty pointless.  Honestly, the adult who seems to "get her" the best has been her Wilson tutor.  I felt that that relationship was so valuable that after we finished Wilson, we've kept her on as a general "tutor," but mostly just so she continues to have an adult in her life who gets her and who can advocate for her and who can tell us if she sees red flags.  And incidentally helps her with math.  

We have a teacher from DS's past who gets his personality and was able to work with him in the classroom. Two of them, actually, from his previous school. They got to know him very well. He still spends time with one of them periodically. I would like it to be more often, but we all have busy schedules.

I agree that spending time with a friendly non-parent adult has been valuable. Even though our teacher friend is not helpful with spotting red flags, she has a way of interacting very positively with him, even when he is being prickly, and she genuinely likes him. That means a lot.

She has been playing a different role in his life recently, but I'm thinking we might want to hire her officially as his math tutor. He really struggles with math, and he doesn't like us to work with him, but he could use extra help.

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23 hours ago, texasmama said:

I have a similar kid (breakfast example). I can restate a simple, logical fact 1,000 times but he may not accept it. He is better at 19 than he was at 15, though. I took to telling him I had explained this many times and asking him to repeat my explanation. Saved me some breath and mental energy that way. The need to brush his teeth was one of those issues. $1,000 of cavities filled a couple of years ago helped some because his argument had been “But I don’t get cavities”. He still doesn’t always brush his teeth twice a day, though. 

Ugh! Teeth!! Yes, we have brushing issues, too.

I think that when we talk to DS and repeat things he's heard a million times before, he just doesn't listen. It's a good idea to switch it and ask him to give the explanation. I think there is something about saying things out loud many times that eventually helps the brain start thinking of them being true. And it's different than hearing others say those things.

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22 hours ago, PeterPan said:

My ds got to talk with Jim Taylor at OCALICON, and if you don't know Jim Taylor, I guess google him. He's an interesting fellow. Anyways, JT has been in the field a long time, and when I shared with him that my ds was a lot like the young man JT had talked about in his sessions, JT got very serious. And then JT (because remember, people who know autism use very few words) said "Where do you see yourself when you're 30?" He looked right at him. And then he said "What do you see as your biggest problem now?" And then "What are you going to do about it?"

And in a way it's the whole throw it in the kid's camp, but it wasn't. If the goals aren't what he really needs, then even the goals don't matter. And it was really obvious that for ds to get where ds wants to go, he's going to need significant support. But it was that complete backing up and reframing that helped.

Do *you* feel like you get the time with your ds that you need in order to pair and be helpful to him? Or do you feel distracted and pulled in a lot of directions? I'm just asking. My kids are 10 years apart, and it's very hard to be different things at once and meet their divergent needs. By the time I add dh to the mix, it's very hard to split myself 3 ways and do any of them well. Even worse if I actually take care of myself. 

I'm saying I agree with you that YOU are always the magic in this process. Your relationshp is where it's at. I like your idea of meeting together afterward. Didn't you hire a transition coordinator or something? What happened to them?

Oh, I definitely have to divide my time across many things. It's interesting that you brought that up, because in my time talking with the counselor yesterday, he asked how much positive time we spend with DS, compared to the amount of time when we are at odds. This has always been a huge question that I grapple with, because it's hard to get that positive time with him. Not only because he is prickly, but also because as a teen, he doesn't want to hang with his parents and wants to spend lots of time on his hobby, which is practicing his instruments. The counselor suggested that we see if DS will play for us sometimes, so that we are pulling in more towards his perseverative interest and entering into it with him. DS might not be enthused, but it's an idea for us to work on.

Honestly, it's hard for me to enter into and share DS's areas of interest right now, because they are very "teen boy" things, and I am about as opposite as that as you can get. He will approach me and want me to listen to or view something that he likes -- either a song or a video clip -- and it is inevitably something that either I personally dislike or that I find morally wrong. Like he just showed me a video this week of Ronald McDonald and Cookie Monster fighting each other, destroying furniture, crashing through a glass door, etc. Sometimes it's people dressed as Harry Potter and Voldemort. And I dislike them, even though DS thinks they are hilarious, so it's hard to enter into sharing that with him. Oh, and then one of the videos ended with one character shooting the other in the head, and I had to talk to him about how watching things like that are BAD.

So it's hard for me to enter into his interests, when I think they are negative. Another example is the jokes he likes. You would not want to hear them. Sexist, racist, sexual. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. He shares this stuff with me gleefullly. It's a "knowing your audience" problem. But also sometimes I think he likes to get the negative reaction.

Yeah, so we need to work on this, as always. We try to pull him into family activities. We watch movies together (usually okay with him to do this at home, though he is opinionated about what we watch, and he can balk about going to the theater). We have a lot of fun board games, but he dislikes playing them, mostly. We try to play the games that he does like. We used to have him participate in game night, even if he didn't want to, but his attitude would end up making things definitely NOT FUN, so now if he doesn't want to play, we don't insist.

He will sometimes be in the mood to talk to me, and then we talk. Of course, it's often at a poor time, or he chooses a topic of conversation that I can't agree about ("which one of these horrible negative song titles that I'm making up do you like?").

So it's hard. Always hard, but we try.

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23 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Makes you wonder why, of all things, that's the battle for him. I get that you have reasons you want it done, blah blah, but I'm just saying why is it important for HIM to put energy into fighting on that? I think it's a normal age to push, and they try to find some place to push. But why bedtimes??? LOLO I mean, usually it's like hair or boyfriends or what you wear or sneaking stuff. I don't know, what kind of function does it serve for him to push like that? What does he get out of it? 

I think it's just a really bad time of day for him, because all of the meds have worn way off. So he is extremely scattered and so needs extra direction, but he hates having the extra direction, because, "Don't treat me like I'm a kid." It's not about the time that he goes to bed. He complains about that sometimes, but that's not the big battle. The arguing happens when he is eating his final snack (he will argue over what he can eat, how much, whether we are in the room with him while he's eating it, why can't he wait and eat later, blah blah blah blah blah),  brushing his teeth, wearing his retainer now that he got his braces off, picking out his clothes, etc. etc. Because he has extremely poor EF, he struggles to stay on task and complete these things. When we help him stay on track, he lashes out.

So we have made a checklist, and we're working on him using it. It's a goal that we could work on with a specific tool, so it's one of the first things we decided to work on with counseling. There are things he needs to do, but none of us wants him to have to have parents directing him so much verbally at this age for these tasks.  He hasn't been good at using checklists in the past, but it's going better so far this time.

I don't know what he gets out of these poor interactions, really. I think it's just a time of impulsivity, poor regulation, lots of EF struggles, etc.

 

 

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23 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Fwiw, I'm with Lecka that I'd probably be slow to change. You have some good tweaks. I'd be more interested to see what happens with mood medication and the change for how the parents are brought in. For me with ds, if the appts are going well (ie. he's going without fussing), I usually figure he's getting SOMETHING out of it.

My ds calls people idiots a lot. It's preferable to profanity. With the amount of meds he's on, he might not be hungry. As far as eating, I'm really b&w, so I tell him about blood sugar. Do you have to make it so personal and a command? Like what if he just takes his blood sugar and he eats when it's low? He's told his meds affect hunger and that you don't want him to pass out from low blood sugar and get a concussion. As long as his blood sugar is fine, you don't give a rip if he eats or not. It doesn't have to be personal. Then it's the numbers deciding.

The way to de-escalate is to drop demands. Here's your back-up plan if your blood sugar goes low, fine no skin off my hide. I mean, are you going to keep telling him to eat? Soon he'll be 18 and leave, and you probably WANT him to live independently. So what does it look like for him to live in an independent setting and take his meds, not have an appetite, and stay well? What compromises could you have there? What does he need to live well independently? 

Did you guys ever work on interoception? You keep talking about eating, and you can't know that you need to eat or what you want to eat unless your interoception is working. So it might be working on interoception would get some progress. Might also, in the long run, help him realize his moods and self-advocate better there. Maybe get the interoception curriculum and ask this counselor to go through it with him. They clearly have rapport, and it's easy to use.

We haven't talked about blood sugar. We do talk about the importance of eating protein and not just carbs. We've worked on this from a lot of angles over the years.

I'm sure we will get to a point where it's just his choice whether to eat or not, but we aren't there yet. He's been losing weight since we upped his ADHD meds last year. And I'm just not comfortable with having him only eat between the hours of 5 pm and 8 pm, which is his only window when he's hungry. He would be hungry in the middle of the night, if he were to wake up, and we've had problems with that in the past; fortunately he's sleeping a little more consistently over the past few years.

He has so much trouble with academics in school. Adding having no nutritional fuel in his system would just make it worse, I think.

But you are right that he's going to have to monitor his food intake himself and that he needs to work toward being able to do that. He just doesn't have the ability right now, so I provide the scaffolding.

Now that the interoceoption for teens workbook is out, I'm planning to buy it. To be honest, I am dreading working with him on it, though, because he so much hates it when I try to teach him things (huge battles over homework, for example). But I have it on my list of things to do. I did bring the idea up with him the other day when he was in a good mood, and he didn't object. But that's just him in the moment. The next time I bring it up, he might totally hate the idea. But I'm working on getting him to think about being agreeable to doing it. Ha

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23 hours ago, PeterPan said:

So just as an observation, it's possible that poor interoception is the reason the perspective taking instruction he has almost assuredly has hasn't STUCK or made a difference. If you don't realize how YOU feel, then you're not in a position to realize or predict how OTHERS feel. 

And yeah, the counselor could do this. It could have surprising results and help him begin to realize and solve his own problems. And it's something that can be more visual, less language. 

https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/

It's a good idea for bringing this up with the counselor.

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3 hours ago, texasmama said:

This can be an effective approach for most people, on the spectrum or NT. 
 

As a related aside, much of traditional talk therapy techniques have been discarded in favor of short-term, solution-focused approaches. There are some neuroplasticity approaches that don’t even require the client to speak much of the experience or feelings. The past, feelings, and causality take a back seat to change to meet a client’s goals going forward.  Motivational interviewing techniques pretty effectively point out client resistance to change in such a way that the insight is client-achieved, not imparted by a therapist. Make no mistake, the Carl Rogers’ qualities of congruence (genuineness), unconditional positive regard, and accurate empathic understanding creates a safe holding space for clients to work in that is crucial. Being a therapist is part science and part art. There is a goodness of fit concept between therapist and client. But research demonstrates that about 50% of change/healing happens as a result of the relationship connection. Humans are, at heart, very relational beings. 
 

Emotional dysregulation is the norm with ASD. It takes time, maturity, and courage for someone on the spectrum to work on this. The NT world does not make sense to them - and they are not wrong. One of the gifts of autism is honesty. My son can sometimes boil a complex problem down to a single, accurate insight. AND he’s not shy about expressing it. His delivery is sometimes not pretty but I cannot argue with his insight. 
 

As an empath, I can experience a similar sensory overload with other people’s emotions. Emotions are everywhere. They float in rooms of people, they hang like a cloud over some people, they hover in the atmosphere like a collective experience. 
But emotions are part of our experience of being human, and they allow us to connect with others. They warn us of danger, and they provide strength and courage when needed. 
 

As my son gets older, I see more and more of his heart, and I’m grateful for that. He is not often able to tolerate the closeness of strong emotional connections, what we would call “love”. But there are times when I cannot, either. It burns. It’s just too much some days. 
 

If I have something to offer in these ESFJ ramblings, it would be some acceptance and patience, I believe. And kindness to ourselves as parents doing a hard thing with no preparation for it. We are just figuring it all out one step at a time. There isn’t one right way to do this. Our kids are struggling under a heavy burden. They live in a world not accepting of them and their unique gifts and challenges. 

I love this. Thank you.

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23 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I'm saying I agree with you that YOU are always the magic in this process. Your relationshp is where it's at. I like your idea of meeting together afterward. Didn't you hire a transition coordinator or something? What happened to them?

Oh, yes. The place where we go for counseling and to see the psychiatrist also offers case management, so I met with someone twice. This is a whole rabbit trail that I could go into another time. But we do have that person that we can see. She is the one who gave me the info about the  existence of the parent-teen support group. She is super nice but kind of mild and maybe not the really proactive "let me help you figure out what to do and how to do it" kind of person that I really need.

We also have a case manager type person who works for the county, but we have not had a great rapport with her and find her only somewhat helpful but also very not helpful in other ways. I'm planning to ask for a different county person. The case manager from my first paragraph has told me to request a new county person. Actually multiple people have told me that! I just have to get up the gumption and do it.

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9 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I think it's conspicuous that the NT people are like no, you must FEEL this and that and rationalize it through the way we say, and the people who are more in that world are like wow, can't you just drop the metaphors and be b&w about it? I really like the Way to A mindset, just b&w, here are the consequences of each choice, I hope you make a good choice, no skin off my hide. Sometimes it's hard to set things up so it's not about you. Working on that way to A helps me frame it that way to him and reframe it for myself. Sometimes that point IS that it will affect me, but even way to A makes that clear. (If you go path A, we will be happy, we will get to do such and such, we'll have a nice evening together. If you go path B, we will be stressed and grouchy, you won't get to do such and such, it will ruin our evening and you will sit alone while I go on without you to have my nice evening.)

So to the extent it's aversive, it's just showing that an outcome of the path is not what he'd probably choose if he thought through it. But it's not a THREAT and it's not something I'm not willing to do. It's more just making the paths clear. We can have more paths, we can have more choices, these will be the outcomes of each path, and if you're willing to deal with those consequences fine. And then setting it up so it doesn't affect you so much along the way and become a weapon. 

It's a lot of hard stuff, that's for sure.  

I would like to be able to be this way, I really would.

But DS is not logical. He will not avoid doing things, just because there are consequences, so when/if we back off, we need to accept that he is going to make the bad choices.

If we tell him eating breakfast or not is his choice, he won't eat. 100% certain of that. And not eating has a consequence with schoolwork. And we are working very hard to keep his head above water at school.

If we tell him it's his choice now to monitor whether he brushes his teeth and wears a retainer -- he won't. If he makes that decision as an adult, well then, it's not my fault if he ends up with bad teeth, but for now I still think I need to be helping him develop good habits.

The way that we structure what we do around meal times can change. The way that we check that he has brushed his teeth can change. The way that we support him can change.

But he doesn't have the logic and maturity to choose the good paths for himself. If interoception work can help him make better choices, then I would be thrilled, and it's worth doing.

And I can't make myself be okay with him making bad personal decisions yet. I still think that my role as parent and guide has an impact, even though sticking in there and guiding is really, really hard on me personally. I mean, it takes a toll on my personal well being to be in the mix, actively parenting.

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Oh, and DS is the kid who, if we were to say something like, "Now that you are older, you can make these decisions for yourself, and we will step back," that he will decide that means that he doesn't have to listen to us about anything any more.

He already says things like, "When I have a car, I'm going to stay out all the time and never be home, and you can't stop me."

Now, he may never have a car. He might never drive. Who knows about that. But it shows his thinking, that when he's free from parental influence, he will do all of the things that we wouldn't want him to.

It's wishful thinking, a lot of it. Some of the things that he says he will do when he's grown up, he may not even want to do. But he is drawn like a moth to a flame to risky things, which is scary as a parent.

We just have to be careful about the message that we send him. Right now, our current message is, "We want you to be more independent when getting ready for bed, so let's use this checklist." We have to temper what we say and make it very specific, or he thinks that he can claim we are giving him a lot more license than we mean to.

I don't know if that makes sense. But we know we need to be careful. We are not at the "make your own choices" stage yet about some things, but we are at the "let's work toward independence" stage. For some things, more independence involves more choice and less parental help right off the bat. For other things, we need to be really gradual and not take the hands off the wheel too soon.

There are actually a lot of areas where I think I am not supervising enough, and he has too much freedom. Like what he views online. I think --- I know -- that he fills his mind and heart with a lot of unhealthy things that he watches online.  But in general, I probably fall onto the side of parenting that oversees more things, rather than those that oversee less. That's fine, because everyone is different in parenting. But it means that when I do make changes and allow more freedoms, it's going to be gradual.

Here's an example. At the beginning of the year, DS had freedom with homework. We believed him when he said he didn't have any or was done with it. Because he had freedom from oversight, he chose not to do things. And....the situation got complicated, and we had to pull him up from failing. So we had to reinstitute parental oversight.

So in that case, if explain consequences of failing school, DS says he doesn't care. And he says he plans to drop out. And he makes the wrong choices. And they will affect his entire life.

He needs guidance, and God gave us to him as his parents, and he's stuck with us for a good long while.

So I'm not willing to have him go to school without breakfast. I knew that I would get some "just let him decide what to eat" responses, which is why I really didn't want to go into it. Which means we are left with "how do we make breakfast better while still making sure he eats," as our goal.

That goal will change over time, as he moves into adulthood, of course. But he's a freshman still, so we have years to go.

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Ugh, ugh ugh, here is a real time example. He has a science thing due tomorrow. First he said he did it, so I told him I had to look. And he has only done the first couple of questions, skipped a bunch, and left the end blank. He says it's easy (it's not -- he is really struggling with this unit) and he will do it tomorrow during class at school. He just texted me (after storming off to go downstairs, while we were still talking about it, and after I texted him to say he had to come up in 15 minutes to work on it), "Whatever, why do u have to worry so much about my stupid schoolwork it's fine I have a lot of time tomorrow."

Total magical thinking on his part.

So I can't say, "Make your choice to do it or not, but if you don't, the consequence is a bad grade." He doesn't care if he gets bad grades.

We are fighting a hard fight to keep him from failing that class. I mean hard. Lots of conferences with the teachers, emails, making up incentive charts, helping him study, on and on and on.

Okay, I don't want to start a discussion about what we could do. We've worked through all of the options with the school IEP team, and so on and so forth.

It's just an example of why the Make Your Own Choice approach can lead to disaster for him.

The bottom line, is that as much as I hate it, I'd rather be the bad guy and require supervised schoolwork when the other option is to let him fail.

He really is a guy who will choose to fail a lot of things in life, not just schoolwork, if he is given a choice.

There was a thread last fall on Chat titled something about stepping back and letting teens fail. It was about one assignment. And the parent stepped back, and the kid (who has ADHD) got an A after all.

DS is NOT that kid AT ALL. He's not even the kid who would get an F on an assignment or fail a class and then be able to learn from it and do better. Sadly, he is the kid who will just keep failing. Not just at schoolwork.

Edited by Storygirl
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1 hour ago, Storygirl said:

Honestly, it's hard for me to enter into and share DS's areas of interest right now, because they are very "teen boy" things, and I am about as opposite as that as you can get. He will approach me and want me to listen to or view something that he likes -- either a song or a video clip -- and it is inevitably something that either I personally dislike or that I find morally wrong. Like he just showed me a video this week of Ronald McDonald and Cookie Monster fighting each other, destroying furniture, crashing through a glass door, etc. Sometimes it's people dressed as Harry Potter and Voldemort. And I dislike them, even though DS thinks they are hilarious, so it's hard to enter into sharing that with him. Oh, and then one of the videos ended with one character shooting the other in the head, and I had to talk to him about how watching things like that are BAD.

Suggested youtube stuff that is dumb boy stuff...Good Mythical Morning and Will It Blend. You can watch a few and see what you think. Mostly they are dumb-funny, and overall, the objectionable content might be more of worrying he'll get the wrong idea than something immoral or terrible. But if you find some episodes you tolerate and maybe counter back with them, it could be a way of entering his interests. A steady diet of this would drive me bananas, but some of them are quite funny. Blending glow sticks is harmless and cute. They have lots of disclaimers to not do it at home. 

Some kids really find unboxing videos to be calming. 

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My son really likes the Home Alone movies right now.  He laughs whenever a bad guy gets hurt.  It’s really not my thing and I do disapprove.  
 

But I do watch them.  I watched Home Alone 3 on Christmas Eve with my full attention.  I don’t do things like that all the time, but it does make a difference.  
 

For some stupid videos, I don’t think it’s necessary to say “these are bad things.”  I can think my kids know they are bad.  Other times — no, things aren’t okay.  But there are things where I will watch and keep my mouth shut.  

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I think standards are important for parents, too.

I think it's possible to try to aim for a balance between standards and relationship.  A recommendation I have seen is to focus on current top 1-3 issues, and let other things go for relationship.  It is keeping the most important standards, but letting go, temporarily, of some other things, to make more room to focus on relationship.  Ross Greene has this with "baskets of behavior" and I have seen it (or similar) suggested and I think it's good.

Because -- there are these two clashing things:  a need for a good relationship and kids feeling like "you're on my side", and also a need to have standards and guidance.  

I have made lists before, with the most important things at the top.  I will put everything and then have categories.  It can make it easier to see what is more important, and what are things that -- I don't like them, but I can put up with them.  

This is not supposed to be giving up, it's supposed to be effective, because of the benefit of a positive relationship.  Then over time the highest things on the list start to be less of an issue and other things can be added.  It takes time but -- this is the kind of thing people say when things aren't going well, there is some entrenched negative dynamic, and there is not too much to lose because current things are not that efficient.  So it's not like I think "this is my first choice, this is what I want to do."  I think more -- okay, this is where I am, I don't have the option of doing what I think "should" be done 100%, I have to adjust to what might work.  

I have done a lot of behavior plan stuff that was not what I wanted to do or would be the way I would want to parent, but it is worth it when things do go better.  

I have really heard too, the positive/negative interaction is really important..... and there are only two ways to get it...... one, increasing positive.  Two, decreasing negative.  Increasing positive is obvious, but for decreasing negative, it can be letting some things go if maybe they don't need to be addressed or discussed all the time, or they just aren't as important as some other things.  

I think it is possible to say "I am going to uphold my parenting values on the important things" and let some things go temporarily.  It is a strategy -- it isn't "really" letting things go forever, it is letting them go temporarily in the process of having things go better and having more chance of effectively addressing those things down the road.  

Ime with professionals, they understand there are going to be a few things on a parent's list that aren't what would be on their list.  And this is okay.  But that list can't be very long at all.  Overall a parent and a professional should agree on top priorities.  If the professional thinks some things are top priorities the parent thinks are stupid, that is a problem, that needs to be discussed and one side or the other needs to see what the other side is saying.  But in general I think I have agreement, I get talked into one thing I thought was stupid (by more explanation of why it will help, or maybe I do just try it to go along), and then the professional goes along with me if there are a few things that I think are necessary to my household that they think are not as important.  

I do not have to do this negotiation anymore since we don't have any outside services right now.  But it is necessary to do this process with a provider to be on the same page.  And I do think -- it should be a mix of total agreement, them going along with you, and you going along with them.  

Iow -- for breakfast as an example, if you say -- look, I have got 3 hills to die on, and one of them is breakfast, I think a professional should go along with that.  But if the professional thinks that "something" has to get loosened up, they are going to just be looking for things that could be loosened up.  I think if you made a list and saw "okay, here are things where *we* could loosen up, but not these 3 things," that is helpful to a professional.  And I think you can ask a professional, what do you think the top priorities are that you see, what is the most important change you would recommend, etc, to know just what their priorities are and what they think would be the most helpful.  And then it helps to be on the same page.  

This is part of a behavior plan kind of process, to decide what top priorities are and how to make them happen, how to respond to various things.  

If there is something you could loosen up on, you can be on the same page with saying "this got loosened up on, let's focus on that."  

I think sometimes too, parents can change before their child improves.  If it's a stand-off on both sides somebody has to change.  But I think in taking a long view and having hope that it is an effective method makes it not seem like "just giving up" or "just letting him get away with things" or "lowering our standards" or "not living according to our values."  I think it's not really like that if it will work as a method and lead to greater gains as the relationship improves.  That is really what the theory is.  It's not just -- "give up."  

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I don't think it is necessary to feel like -- well, I am stuck in this combative place because he is combative, and I need to uphold certain standards.  

I think it's possible to try to get out of that and still be upholding the most important standards.

It is a theory at least, people say it is good.    

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 Well, I can't find a good link.  But Ross Greene has 3 baskets of behavior.  The first basket you always respond to with consistency.  It is the most important.  The second basket is things that you are working on and targeting, but if it is a bad day or there is some extenuating circumstance, you can let things go.  Basket three is things you just let go.  Over time you move things from the third basket to the second basket.  

This is the kind of thing I see recommended for autism also, to be able to get the positive interaction increased and the negative interaction decreased, and to be able to make the most movement on the most important goals (by focusing on them the most).  

It is really supposed to be effective and I have heard first-hand accounts of it being effective.  

It's also the kind of thing where it is easy to blame the parent for something not working, which I don't like, because I think the most focus needs to be on the child's behavior and not the parent's behavior.  But at the same time -- a lot of things can be that way, so I think it can take a choice to not make it be about the parents while the kid is getting off scott free because "well he would be doing better if the parents would just....."  I cannot stand things like that.  

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