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emotional regulation in 7 year old with ASD

  • 22-07-2022 5:13pm
    Registered Users Posts: 227 ✭✭ misc2013

    Any tried and tested resources can be recommended?

    My son is very smart ( OT still says he has an Aspergers profile even though that term isn't used anymore) and also (as goes with the territory, very pedantic). God forbid we make a throw away comment/ forget a plan , as he forgets NOTHING!!

    Anyways, the real struggle is when he goes from 0-100 when something doesn't go his way. He cries A LOT. It can be so exhausting and his 4 year old sister looks on and says " there he goes, crying AGAIN!". And the crying can be a full on screech, hear him all around the estate. I have to get him indoors if he kicks off cos everyone can hear him! I find it so difficult to be calm sometimes but I know I need to dig deep. Especially when something needs to be done and he's still melting down and we're waiting for him to calm down before moving on. I reallise he's getting to the age to tell him he has ASD and that might help him understand his emotions so that's more info we need.

    I can google books til the cow comes home but I'd welcome something that has been helpful for other parents. Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭ JDD

    Now, as we know if you’ve met one autistic person you’ve met one autistic person, so my methods may not help at all. “Methods” overplays it too.

    My little fella is five, he has some verbal communication problems (unlike your typical aspie), likes strong pressure or touch, and has problems both identifying and verbalising emotions.

    i normally carry him into the sitting room if we’re downstairs, or into our bedroom if upstairs. No matter if he’s crying over something stupid and tiny or something big, I try to stay calm and sympathetic. I normally let him cry for a minute or two as it takes that long for the crying to release calming endorphins. I hug him fairly close and rub his back. I found that shushing helped reduce the intensity of the crying so I wonder is it something that sort of gets a part of the brain to interfere with the downward spiral part. Then I verbalise what happened to trigger the meltdown, e.g. Me: did you not want to switch the computer game off? Him: (crying) YES. Me: But I said it was bedtime and you didn’t like that? Him: YES. Me: That’s called being disappointed. You can say “I was disappointed” Him: I WAS DISAPPOINTED Me: I’m sorry that you were disappointed honey. I didn’t want to make you sad.

    Usually then I try to engage him in one of our scripted conversations. He verbally stims, so likes the to and fro of a familiar conversation. By then he has usually calmed down and I might be able to distract him. It doesn’t always work and sometimes he tunnels, unable to focus on anything but the trigger that set him off. But most of the time I find this process helps, and it is certainly more effective then telling him to stop crying or or trying to win the argument with him. From experience it takes him 10 times longer to calm down if I do that. You do feel like your letting them away with murder but you have to step back and realise that it’s part of the disability.

  • Registered Users Posts: 227 ✭✭ misc2013

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. It's soooo hard to stay calm. I get so frustrated with it. Every day there are tears over something or other. As he gets older I really worry about how it affects him socially. He's already had little kids comment on the crying and they younger than him. It's hard.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭ JDD

    I know that a friend of mine goes to an SLT in Churchtown with her son who works with the kids on emotional regulation. She does this visual worksheet exercise where they put different upsetting things in different categories e.g. turning off the tv would be a 3, stubbing your toe a 5, being chased by a lion a 10. And then she tries to teach that different disappointing things deserve different reactions - even if you still feel very upset on the inside, the fact that your t-shirt is not yellow today deserves a different reaction to breaking your arm. I'm not sure how well that work with my little fella because he has a lot of verbal communication issues and might not "get" the worksheet exercise, but if your son is a typical Aspie and has no communication/cognitive issues it might work well for him?

    Plus he's probably at an age now where he'd understand his diagnosis. I'm a big advocate for telling kids as early as possible. The idea of leaving them to think that's there's something wrong with them but not being able to understand why, upsets me more than them feeling a little different because of the diagnosis. Most adults who have been diagnosed late in life (which usually means they are high functioning) say that there one regret was not knowing they had the condition as a child. It also means that you can try to explain it to siblings/other kids, so that they understand that he's not "being a baby" or deliberately kicking off. I find kids are very accommodating if you explain it to them in simple terms.

  • Registered Users Posts: 227 ✭✭ misc2013

    Sounds good thanks. He doesn't do any SLT anymore. We've been thinking about psychology but of course there's long waits and it's sooo expensive so looking for some DIY resources first.

  • Registered Users Posts: 668 ✭✭✭ Coopaloop

    Hi OP,

    Mam to two ASD sons. OT would help a lot I think, they can work on the zones of regulation with your son. I've done a few of the HSE parenting courses that they send you on instead of actually providing services to the child (that's a rant for a different day) but I have found some of them very useful in terms of understanding 'meltdowns' and not rising to the meltdown. When they are at that stage its really too late to do anything and you just have to ride it out, but what goes up must come down, so just get them to a safe space ( you could make a sensory bubble for them, a tippie tent, put up some sensory lights, cushions, lava lamps, squishy toy (whatever your son likes).

    The main thing is to try catch it before it gets to the level (not always possible I know) but if you know the signs of when a melt down could be building you could jump in and do one of your tools to regulate.

    It's very hard op, and such a learning curve, its hard not to stress and rise to the meltdown.

    I have screen shots of the last course I did. With the notes on it. I'd be happy to send them onto you in PM.

    But really do try the OT for resources. I do blocks of 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off for each of my sons. It's expensive but VHI company plan for them covers 75% back of cost. Well worth looking into.

    Let me know If u would like those slides.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 12,584 ✭✭✭✭ fits

    Would something like the Chill Skill book by Bressie help. IT talks about using a breathing exercise when you feel the red mist descending. In story format aimed at children.

  • Registered Users Posts: 227 ✭✭ misc2013


    Sorry only catching up now.

    I couldn't refuse your offer of the slides thanks a million.

    Have just finished a book from library Deborah lipsky From anxiety to meltdown. Had some useful bits in there.

    Had a one off hse psychology consult last week. Like, where do you start with a 45min consult but she talked about modelling and naming emotions and also recommended Bessie's book for kids, deep breathing.

    He does attend OT every few months privately. She recommends a visual timer when trying to get THAT task done, e.g. homework. Or to. Set limits. And breathing. But he hasn't bought into the breathing yet.

    She was focusing on fine motor the last while as hand strength is poor. It's hard to tackle everything in a 50min session. And yes, E100 a pop up front but get 50% back i think.

    Oh, I could rant all day!

  • Registered Users Posts: 227 ✭✭ misc2013

    Sorry for the delay.

    Funny that the HSE psychologist - had a one off consult - also suggested that book.

    Will definitely look it up, thanks.