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My aspie boy...sigh. Advice needed.

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MissesJai posted 8/27/2013 12:42 PM

DS 11 attended 6th grade orientation yesterday. It wasn't his best day, that's for sure. He was so excited to start middle school - new experience, growing up, seeing his friends from elementary, all that stuff. Well, yesterday was for 6th graders only - no 7th or 8th graders - and he freaked out. He didn't have a meltdown but he was so nervous and anxious that he ended up with the runs. He said he went 3 times during orientation (8-11:45 ). This is not his norm. To top it off, he decided he wanted to walk home instead of dad picking him up - which is what we agreed would happen when we spoke the day before. So, he takes off, without telling anyone where he went, which has all of us in a panic. Dad drives around and eventually finds him, about halfway home. Apparently, he knows the route home - something we assumed he didn't know. He used to walk home from elementary school but that was 2 blocks away. His middle school is 2 miles away - huge difference.

So, while I'm proud of him for being brave and paying such good attention, he still broke a rule - no walking home alone. I came home from work and he was upset - he was punished for breaking a rule, which he understood. What I didn't know, at that time, was the stress he endured from the day and how his body reacted to the sensory overload. I felt so bad for him. I had no idea he would react this way. So, this led to a conversation about tomorrow - the actual first day of school - all grades will be there, which means MORE students than what he encountered at orientation. We talked on & off for the rest of the evening – me giving him words of encouragement, him assuring himself that he can handle this new environment, me explaining to him that there will a lot more kids at school come Wednesday, him acknowledging this and again, telling himself and me that “he can do this” and he will be okay. It went back and forth like this for about 2 hours – which is fine. This is the method I use when I prepare him for something that he may or may not like. They are my little pep talks with him – equal parts reality and encouragement from me. He called me this morning and apologized for breaking the rules and said that he feels good about tomorrow. I took tomorrow off so I could drop him off & pick him up – this is a 1st day of school ritual that I’ve maintained since DS 18 was in kindergarten.

Is there anything else I can do to make this a bit easier for him? He has WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) leaders at school – 8th graders that are essentially his mentors for the first year; they help transition the kids into middle school. I know it will get easier as the year progresses. I just feel for my little man today.

click4it posted 8/27/2013 13:00 PM

awwww sorry your lil guy had a rough start. Middle school can be such A BIG transition for any child. I think you are such a loving parent and did everything you could to make him feel comforted and held to the rules.

Sorry, I don't have much to offer for advice, but I think just the reassurance from you and Dad will be great. Also keeping in touch with the teachers, introduce yourself and ask how things are going.

Hoping next week will be better for him.

nowiknow23 posted 8/27/2013 13:03 PM

MJ - I really hope things go well for him today. Change can be so challenging for aspies. ((((DS11))))

MissesJai posted 8/27/2013 13:18 PM

Thanks click & nik (hey that rhymed! ). I plan on introducing myself to his teachers tomorrow. I already have a strong relationship with his Resource Specialist, so that's helpful. He's met DS and thinks he will do just fine - he just needs support, which I was assured he will receive. I plan on talking with DS more tonight and again on the way to school tomorrow morning - yes, change can be extremely challenging. I know most people don't weather change well, but aspies, that's a whole other game.

click4it posted 8/27/2013 13:27 PM

he sounds like he is in great hands at home and school.

nowiknow23 posted 8/27/2013 13:29 PM

Sounds like you've got a great net in place for your DS. Fingers crossed for you.

MissesJai posted 8/27/2013 13:32 PM

thanks ladies. I just want to make sure I do everything I can to make this transition as smooth as possible.

tushnurse posted 8/27/2013 14:46 PM

My brilliant,ADHD/borderline Aspie always has had a hard time with any change in the norm. So starting daycare, starting kg, starting middle school, etc etc. I too have done the same as you prepping him. Does the Mentor kid know about his aspie dx. I think it's important for him to have a like minded, or another kid that has experience with this. I would also let his teachers know ASAP that he had gut issues related to the anxiety, so they don't deny him going to the restroom should he need to.

He will be ok. Mine is driving now, and evidently is getting his first speeding ticket as I type, he just texted me.

MissesJai posted 8/27/2013 15:18 PM

Does the Mentor kid know about his aspie dx. I think it's important for him to have a like minded, or another kid that has experience with this.
That I don't know, nurse. I will ask tomorrow. I agree - he needs someone like minded and I suspect he is going to meet more kids that are a lot like him. I hope that happens soon.
I would also let his teachers know ASAP that he had gut issues related to the anxiety, so they don't deny him going to the restroom should he need to.
Thank you for bringing that up - I will address this tomorrow.


He will be ok. Mine is driving now, and evidently is getting his first speeding ticket as I type, he just texted me.
I know that's not funny but it really does let me know that he will be ok.

[This message edited by MissesJai at 3:20 PM, August 27th (Tuesday)]

tushnurse posted 8/27/2013 16:47 PM

Yup he did get his first ticket. He is so damn mad at himself, we had told him we would pay for insurance until he ha his first accident or got a ticket. I think it took less than 30 days.

Yes they are ok. They end up doing just fine. Mine got off track with school last year and ruined his GPA, so he had to rework his long term plan, but he was able to and because he didn't do well with change I have encouraged him to plan. He now plans to attend JC for 2 years then off to Mizzou. He wants to be a vet and ha the ability to do it.

It just takes a different approach to learning and thinking. He has a small but very tight group of friends. Your guy will find his nitch too.

wifeno2 posted 8/27/2013 16:50 PM

Is he connected with the school regarding his Dx? They should be able to make some accommadations for him if he needs them.

Also does he have anything that helps ground him? We used to use the body brush which was really helpful but now he likes the weighted vest. I know the compression clothing helps a lot of them too.

And probably a diet of bananas and cheese

MissesJai posted 8/27/2013 16:55 PM

That's awesome, tushnurse. They are extremely intelligent, aren't they? He blows my mind every single day.

It just takes a different approach to learning and thinking.
It really is. I'm learning how to navigate this journey right along with him. When he struggles, I wish I could trade places with him. It breaks my heart to see him struggling - but, this is life. He will have his fair share of struggles, especially as an adult.
Your guy will find his nitch too.
Thank you for saying that. It eases my mind.
Is he connected with the school regarding his Dx? They should be able to make some accommodations for him if he needs them.
Yes, and he has an IEP. The upside is that both his elementary and middle schools are in the same district, so there is good deal of information sharing between both schools. His previous RSP has been working pretty diligently with his current RSP. She is very protective of him, which is comforting.
Also does he have anything that helps ground him?
He's a thumb sucker - which we're trying to break. He self soothes with that at home. The only other thing that grounds him and brings him back to center are his computer games. So, we've got to work on other techniques/strategies. Can you tell me more about the weighted vest?

wifeno2 posted 8/27/2013 18:48 PM

My little guy has one that looks like a police vest. You can buy weights to put in it. The weights can increase as you need it. I'm not really sure why it works for some of them but it does. I guess its the same concept as Temple Grandin's squeeze machine.
One thing to keep in mind is that it should be limited to the time they need it most and then take it off. And sometimes when you take it off there can be a little rebound...

Check out Fun and Function. They have a lot reasonably priced "tools" for sensory issues.

Good luck!

CheaterMagnet posted 8/27/2013 19:30 PM

My aspie is 24 now and just got his permit! He's never felt ready to drive until now.

Back when he was in school nobody knew what Asperger's was and we had the devil of a time getting him the services he needed. It literally took being on TV and getting to spend time with the Drs. at Yale University who wrote the diagnostic criteria for AS! Dr. Klin was emphatic that my son WOULD get the services he needed that the he WOULD be successful or he would have something to say about it. He told me that he would come to the school himself (this was in Texas!) if he had to to get DS the help he needed.

DS eventually had a private teacher and full time aide for middle school. By high school he was completely mainstreamed and no longer needed the aide. He graduated with a 4.0.

During elementary and middle school when things were the most stressful for him he had little stuffed animals (Pufkins) that he took everywhere with him. When that stopped being age appropriate and a bully flushed one down the loo, we had to find another source of comfort and self soothing. He'd always been very attached to his blankets. He liked the silky binding. So, Grandma made him a little "pillow" out of binding material and stuffed with cotton. He could carry this in his pocket and anytime he felt anxious he could put his hand in his pocket and stroke the pillow. It helped tremendously! He carried his pillow for years and no one ever made fun of him for it. He also compulsively rocks.

You are doing everything right for your boy. And having an understanding school staff and a good IEP is half the battle. The school should make sure that his mentor is someone sensitive (mine had a wonderful girl who helped him feel safe) who will be supportive and help ease him through this transition. It's been my experience that the kind of kids who volunteer for these things tend to be the most empathetic and protective kids.

(((((HUGS))))) to you and your DS.

redrock posted 8/27/2013 19:31 PM

I am in the same boat as tushnurse. Big life changes and changes to the routine threw my guy into a tailspin. Middle school was a huge adjustment.

Some things we did. You probably already do some of these things but I wrote them down anyway.

-We requested that his more difficult classes come first during his school day- for him that is writing/foreign lang. And asked that his favorites math/science be scheduled at the end of the day.
That helped him get the hard stuff out of the way early and let him look forward to those favorite classes...

-We put a white board on the door leaving the house on which he wrote reminders to himself on what not to 'forget' the next morning. He packed as much as he could the night before.

-His school gave him an assignment book that he had to fill out. We had it laminated immediately(he is hard on books). That was his touchstone that kept him sane when his anxiety crept in. It was our starting point every night for homework etc...

-I don't know if your school does this, but the surprise binder checks through him for a loop. He was constantly in turmoil about binder checks. We created a procedure that he learned in order to keep his work organized(it didn't work all of the time- but it cut down on his failing this aspect of class)...

-Socially- this is where my son struggled the most. He was(is?) the most loving forgiving kind kid on the planet. He has no guile and was not good a the manipulative games that come into play in middle school. He had to learn the hard way some lessons about what friendship really is. But he did eventually learn to look at 'actions' rather than words.

-Stress- we got permission from each teacher to allow him to use a stressball to help him alleviate his need to move around. The agreement was that he could use it as long as it did not become a distraction or toy. Only one teacher said no to us.

By asking this we also got to introduce his situation to the teachers(we don't use an IEP). That helped so much because they became more proactive with him and us to work through issues that came up. They also fell for him :) and looked out for him in the areas where they could...

My son is 16 now, a varsity wrestler with over a 3.0 average and still uses his white board.

PS- just wanted to add that your caring and supportive words mean more than any tip I could give. He is a lucky guy to have you in his corner.

[This message edited by redrock at 7:38 PM, August 27th (Tuesday)]

cmego posted 8/27/2013 19:55 PM

My 10 year old ADHD/OCD/SPD dd picks. Her fingers especially. (I am working on OT and they are suggesting the weighted vest too...). She destroys her fingers, bug bites are all scabs, she has picked her belly button to bleeding and moles off of her arms.

I now have a small rubber band bracelet that I have her "fiddle with" instead of picking. It is a little less obvious.

Middle school is next year for us...I am worried. She only has a handful of friends. Her IC says she will do better in high school because she can get in with the artsy groups/science groups which is her "niche". They are more accepting of different kids.

And, yes, another brilliant kid with an encyclopedic knowledge of animals.

yewtree posted 8/28/2013 12:46 PM

I just want to commend all of you on what amazing mothers you are! You and your children are so blessed to have each other.

Cally60 posted 8/28/2013 15:27 PM

Too late for MissesJai, alas, and I know that some schools now have new students do all this anyway, but in case it helps anyone.......

Once my son had his schedule, we walked around the campus after school and found the exact location of each of his classrooms, and which route to take from class to class.

I know that The Locker can often cause problems, too. If the school has lockers (and especially combination locks) it's a really good idea to take your child to find his locker before school starts. And to get his combination, so that he have practice in opening and closing the locker numerous times, until he can do it with ease. It can be really stressful and upsetting for many children, and especially for those who are loners, if the first time they have to use the lock unaided, and for real, is in a crowd and in a rush - before school or between classes.

[This message edited by Cally60 at 3:39 PM, August 28th (Wednesday)]

tushnurse posted 8/29/2013 07:23 AM

How did his first day go????

MissesJai posted 8/29/2013 13:08 PM

hey guys. I just have to say how much I love you all - the support from my SI family is beyond amazing. I can't even begin to express my gratitude.

Yesterday went very well. One of the positives is that he only has to manage 3 classrooms and 3 teachers. Two of his classrooms are right next door to each other (906 & 907) and the PE room is directly across the walkway from his classrooms. He has the same teacher for homeroom thru 3rd period and the same teacher for 4th & 5th periods. PE is his last class of the day - so yay!

On the way to school we talked and I asked him if he was nervous, he said a little, so I reminded him that it's okay and to just do his best. I also told him if he has tummy issues to tell his teacher and she will accommodate him (I had already planned to talk with her and his other teachers so that they were all prepared). By the time we got to school, he was good to go. He took off without giving me a kiss & a hug and I had to call him back so I could get my daily love
Once he took off, I went into the office and asked to speak to his teachers. It was very hectic so I couldn't speak to them directly but I was able to speak with the vice principal and another 6th grade teacher and they both assured me his tummy issues were normal - all 6th graders are very nervous and anxious the first few days so what happened with DS is not uncommon at all. I was assured that he's in good hands and that they would take good care of him.

DS 18 & I picked him up and he was in great spirits - he said he had a good day, no tummy problems, ran into some friends from elementary school, ate lunch with them, and got to hang out with his best friend. Overall, it was a 180 from Monday - and that was such a huge relief.

We requested that his more difficult classes come first during his school day- for him that is writing/foreign lang. And asked that his favorites math/science be scheduled at the end of the day.
This is the exact case for DS - his new RSP was proactive and felt that this would be the best thing for DS so in our last IEP meeting, the RSP actually proposed it to us - we immediately bought into it and it makes total sense. He doesn't have lockers yet (new ones are being installed) but when the time comes, we will definitely work with him on the combination. He's a whiz with numbers so this shouldn't be too difficult.
use a stressball to help him alleviate his need to move around. The agreement was that he could use it as long as it did not become a distraction or toy
I like this idea - not to mention, DS has weak hands, so this can help in that area as well. I will discuss with his RSP.
He'd always been very attached to his blankets
Mine too! I like the pillow idea - I may have to copy that! At home he will drag his comforter from his bedroom to the family room and every room in between. I'm constantly washing that thing!

So, in summation, the day went extremely well and I believe that, overall, he will be okay. I'm so glad I have you all to lift us up and share your experiences with me. Money cannot buy what this SI family gives...

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