Help! My 3.5 yo son is showing autistic traits and his tantrums suck :-(
November 28, 2018 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Hello all, my 3.5 year old son has autistic traits and is in early intervention. I am getting help. But maybe the hive mind can help too? His tantrums REALLY REALLY suck and complicating factors are: I also have a 2.5 year old and a husband who interferes with me when I am trying to deal with it. How can I better handle the tantrums? Oh, and also, how do I not completely let this stress tear me to bits? I'm so sad.

Okay, so I should also add that we are in Germany. The support network here for kids are REALLY top notch. So this is what has happened: my son started kindergarten in September and the transition hasn't gone very well. They raised concerns and were urged to get him into early intervention. So we have done this, he now has occupational therapy and starting next week a psychologist (or a heilpedegog- my spelling isn't correct but my impression is that this is like a special needs child psychologist) will meet with him also once a week.

I feel very stressed by the situation because (most importantly) I am worried about my son and I am afraid about if he isn't able to cope in this kindergarten that he will end up having to leave it. They said that if he couldn't stay there then they would help us find his next place, but still the stress is HUGE. We had never intended that our children enroll in the public german system. We intend to return to my husband's english speaking home country for them to attend the rest of primary and secondary school... but I am frightened deep down.

So basically he has deficits that are preventing him from getting along well in this kindergarten. I feel they over egged the pudding a little bit but I could say for myself the most autistic traits he shows are hand flapping and stimming. His balance is terrible- he often just falls over. He can't catch things very well and he is afraid to try anything with pedals. And he covers his ears a lot if you flush the toilet or a train goes by. He often walks on his tippie toes. He loves his trains. I have a feeling that if aspergers was still a thing that he would be aspergers, but I don't know that he will meet the criteria for full diagnosis. And I hope that he responds well to the interventions and is able to go on into his school life etc.

BUT OMG THE TANTRUMS...

He seems to have periods where he is really pretty balanced and lovely but then many weeks go by where we feel like we are all walking on egg shells waiting for him to kick off/tantrum (for example, in September and October he was pretty great- but November has been the pits) And it can be anything that triggers it.

Even before we started early intervention we had a regulatory advice doctor (for babies and kids aged 0-3) do a visit with me and then a home visit with the family. We made a lot of the changes that she recommended (lots of praise, do cooking together that gives them a good feeling inside, walk in the forest) and it really helped a lot, but in the last couple of weeks I feel like we have gotten back into a rut and it really sucks.

When I have one of them behaving in a way that is difficult (for the younger child this is screaming) then the other one will start in as well. And this has been going on for a long time... I would say the last 2 years have been really awful and the last year and a half has been even more awful.

So anyway, at the moment our 3.5 year old is having tantrums almost every day. He seems ready and primed to have a tantrum and its like the tantrum just waits for the moment to strike. He wakes up in the morning and he is happy for 5 seconds and then he immediately starts protesting something or does something to bother his brother, or gets annoyed with his brother, whatever). I am doing some serious deep breathing as I take the pair of them off to the kindergarten. Usually that is fine. Then (if the day before was terrible) I have anxiety for the rest of the day because I know that my afternoon will most likely be awful. I have planned at the moment, two trips a week to the swimming pool and two trips a week to the playroom at my gym and a kinder yoga class.

But we still have time at home and it can really be hideous.

Yesterday (and probably the start of the reason I am posting this question) my son had a HUGE meltdown at the doctors office. There was a box of tracks but no trains. He asked for them and I said that I couldn't find any and he kept asking and I had run out of things to distract him with and he just went bananas. A little baby came by holding a train (who knows where he found it!) and my son wanted to grab it away and was getting pretty pushy. My other son (who was there for an earrache) started getting a bit stressed and it just escalated from there. My older son was screaming his head off demanding a train and when I tried to sit him down he started screaming "ouchie!!! you hurt me!!!" JUST SO LOUD and the waiting room was packed and I couldn't take him out because I had the two of them. AND OH MY GOD IT WAS HORRIBLE. I started to cry eventually and I huddled in the breast feeding corner and he was screaming " HUG HUG HUG HUG GIVE ME A HUG" but when I tried to give him a hug he would try to push my other child off my lap. God it was the pits.

Eventually they gave us a room and it was over.

But yesterday he had a tantrum in the house because he couldn't have dried cranberries for dinner (they have too much sugar that close to bed time) and today he had a tantrum because I took a blanket away from him after he was throwing it around in the car.

I left him screaming in the car for a while when we got home but he still continued in the house so I took him up to our bedroom for a time out and shut the door. I told my husband not to get involved and I went downstairs to fix dinner for our other child and I hadn't been down for a second before I heard the door pop open upstairs and my husband had interfered with the timeout. And this happens a lot and after that I have nothing up my sleeve. I think probably every 3-6 days my husband will do something like that. I think he feels bad and just wants to talk to the child and fix it all up. But he doesn't listen when I ask him not to get involved, and I feel like I am the one who is busy having meetings with professionals, I am the one who has to listen to the screaming while he is at work, I am the one who is having home visits and coaching and all that stuff. So I feel incredibly effing angry when he isn't available for those things but then does shit like that. It seems small, and he probably thought he was helping... but it doesn't help and I am at my wits end and to be honest I feel like I have 3 children.

I felt so so angry. And at the moment I feel defeated. My husband had to literally walk out the door 15 minutes later to catch a flight so I am on my own now with the kids and I was quite cross with him before he left (which I feel rightful about, but I also am the type of person who always wants everything to be okay so will say everything is fine) but this question isn't totally about my husband (although the last paragraphs are) this happens when he isn't here and I really really struggle.

TLDR: I am worried about my son who has autistic traits, his tantrums are horrendous and I have another child 11 months younger in the mix who is old enough to be aware and upset by it and be disruptive himself, and me and my husband are not always on the same page (but I love him!) and we are in a different country.
posted by catspajammies to Human Relations (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I feel like it sounds like my husband wants to be involved in a positive way, and I feel that his intentions ARE positive, but he seems to lack the ability to see how giving a tantrum or negative behaviours attention only reinforces them and he will often give in to the tantrum... he has a really big heart and he is excellent about talking with the kids and spending 1:1 time with them. But if they are fighting like cats and dogs over play doh or whatever then it doesn't cross his mind to correct them and/or take away the play doh... he will just shrug his shoulders and say "well there's not much you can do"... and same goes with the tantrums except that is the one case I wish he would shrug his shoulders and ignore the behaviour.
posted by catspajammies at 12:11 PM on November 28, 2018


So, even assuming he’s on the spectrum, a lot of this is how 3yos are and it sucks but they grow out of it. Not trying to minimize your stress but instead give you hope.

Also, it would likely help you if you sat your husband down and told him to cut it out. I don’t know if you’ve tried that but your anger is totally rational. He needs to get with the program. Sometimes it takes explicit conversations to get through denial when it comes to kids with special needs.

A parents helper could be good for you. A local school for teachers or social workers can be a good resource for a part-time helper. It has to be tough to juggle two kids so close in age without the other parent.

Finally, if it’s possible to have your husband not travel —but only if it’s possible—that would likely help limit transitions which might lessen tantrums.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:18 PM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Someone else will hopefully be along with good advice, I‘m just here for an emergency validation: „YOU ARE SO RIGHT, GIRL, YOUR HUSBAND‘S BEHAVIOUR IS FUCKING ANNOYING.“ Like, please don‘t feel you have to explain it anymore, it‘s legit frustrating that he‘s not here for the consequences, he just gets to be the „good“ guy.

And also this is an incredible amount of stress for all of you, especially you.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:19 PM on November 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


Also, changing schools is stressful, but it’s very possible that a lot of the tantrums may be due to a school placement that isn’t working out. In that case it might be helpful overall even if it’s not to plan. Wishing you the best—things will just improve from here, in my experience.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:23 PM on November 28, 2018


Just to clarify two details:

1) My husband rarely travels, when I said "this happens when he isn't here" I meant while he is a work, meaning: it isn't his presence that causes the tantrum, not so much his absence causes a problem.

2) My son started kindergarten in the same building as where he was in the nursery... so I agree that the kindergarten might not be the right fit (ohhhhhhhhhh.... god.... just no!) but it wasn't that he started in a new building with new people... but the tantrums have been going on for a while.
posted by catspajammies at 12:31 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


His balance is terrible- he often just falls over. He can't catch things very well and he is afraid to try anything with pedals. And he covers his ears a lot if you flush the toilet or a train goes by. He often walks on his tippie toes

This stood out to me, because this was exactly how my younger son behaved as a toddler, complete with the overwhelming tantrums. He was eventually diagnosed with a sensory disorder (he is hyposensitive - he doesn't feel like other kids, hence the terrible balance, the walking on the tippy toes, and he didn't learn to pedal a bike until he was 6). I'm not stating this may be your son's diagnosis, but I'll tell you what works for my son. Most of this stuff was taught to us while he was in occupational therapy. YMMV for your own child.

heavy work activities from this list - most things like jumping (we got a mini trampoline), bear walking, and hitting him with foam sticks.

Sensory Bag - this thing is GREAT. we would tell our son "you need sensory time in your bag!" and he'd happy go into it. you can breathe and see in it, and after 20 minutes he'd totally calm down from a tantrum.

we also do the Wilbarger Protocol for brushing

Hopefully, some of these things will help calm down the terrible tantrums. For my son, he was overwhelmed with frustration. So after a "sensory session" (usually only 20 minutes) we were able to calm him down. We also watched for signs of frustration and send him to do something to help him. The key to remember is, it had to involve his ENTIRE body. Just sensory toys for his hands did NOT work. Good luck! You can MeMail me for more information.
posted by alathia at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


Something I have found helpful is the blogger AskMoxie, who writes a lot about parenting, and you might find some of her insights validating as well...she has said more than once that 3.5 is a uniquely difficult age with a TON of tantrums. (I have a 3.5 year old boy myself right now, although he is not on the spectrum, and I've been revisiting a lot of these blog posts after a particularly hard tantrum-filled day or weekend).

3.5 Year Olds Are Difficult

3.5 is a lousy age

Q&A: 3 Year Old Freakouts

3.5 year olds and the pain they cause

I hope someone else is able to weigh in with more perspective from the autism side, but I am sending you internet hugs because 3.5 year olds are truly very hard, neurotypical or not.
posted by castlebravo at 12:33 PM on November 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


While I am imagining lots of advice isn't really helpful when there is more to it than just typical kid stuff here is what I did for tantrums.

I tried to acknowledge disappointment. "I'm sorry you can't have cranberries, I know you like them so much. I love them too, but they aren't a bedtime snack. Sorry you are feeling so sad about it" HUG and a bit more nice-talk and offering the alternatives instead.

Here comes tantrum... "Boy, I know that you are upset but just because you are unhappy, you can't disrupt the whole house. If you need more time to feel better, go to your room and read a book or play with a toy and come back out when you feel ready."

It helped me try to control things before I got frustrated. I always try to make it like I am on his team and just trying to help him stick to the rules. Breaking the rules means consequences -- not making mom mad. It's me and him, just working together.

Good luck and hugs to you both.
posted by beccaj at 12:34 PM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Part of this definitely sounds like being 3 and part of it more than that.

I will also say for young children in general, but especially for my child on the spectrum when he was young, timers and warnings of things happening regularly would help.

Example of timer: At the park. "We will leave in 10 minutes. I will set the timer. When the timer goes off, it will be time to leave." It worked wonders!

Also loads and loads and loads of reminders and setting expectations as to how things will go and REWARDS! Full on bribery is your friend. Not in the middle of the tantrum, but as a general expectation. "Hey, bud, we behave this way when we go to the store. If you can behave like that, then when we get home, you can have [desired thing]." It can be a little hard for three year olds to process this, but consider laying out actual transactions for him. And if he doesn't behave that way, do not give in to [desired thing].

If Germany has Applied Behavioral Analysis, seek it out. It was an invaluable tool to help us help our child and his therapist was most excellent. It was all play and she taught us ways of helping him to manage his behaviors that really did help.
posted by zizzle at 1:09 PM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


First, 3.5 year olds are really tough. I've had 3 of them, and the frequent tantrums are both common and infuriating. I'd say my oldest had 5-7 a week, and some of them would last for an hour. It's hard and you have all my sympathy.

That being said, timeouts never worked for my highly sensitive kid (who also has some sensory stuff going on, as well as adhd). We did "time ins" instead. We wrapped her in her blanket and held her tight and encouraged her to breath until she was calmer, and then we talked. Three is an age of disequilibrium, and observing routines, early bedtimes, and limiting screen time all helped to get on a good footing.

Other than that, the best advice I can give is that you take care of yourself. This is hard work, emotionally, mentally, and physically, and you need to do what it takes to reduce your load.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:11 PM on November 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I know this is easy to say, but as much as you can I would let go of the worries about him and the future. You have no control over it and no idea what's going to happen, so I would focus on what's happening now and help him and yourself.

I would ask/pay to have someone come with you on doctors trips. Tantrums are so much worse in a public space.

I'm so sorry. This is a lot to deal with so just surviving for a while is ok.
posted by orsonet at 1:17 PM on November 28, 2018


I think you have a bad confluence of the worst of 3 and some extra stuff on top of that. We had that too. It was really hard. Really, REALLY hard. The good news is that, with OT and maturity, our life has improved a lot. So, it probably won't be this bad for the long haul, even though it may feel like it now. We still have therapists and a lot of struggles, but much less of it involves screaming. If it's possible for you to get a mother's helper some of the time, that may help with your sanity, as parenting a child like this is EXHAUSTING.

Especially at that age, I found it useful to distinguish meltdowns from tantrums. This is my conceptualization rather than a 100% set in stone type thing, but to me a tantrum is something a kid does hoping for a desired outcome (i will scream until you give up and give me a cookie). A meltdown is when the kid's brain has blown a fuse and the world is too much and they erupt in screams (there are no trains, there should be trains, i cannot cope with the existence of tracks without trains). When my son has a meltdown, you look in his eyes and the lights are on but nobody's home. It's just incoherent screaming.

The most effective response to a meltdown differs by kid, by situation, and sometimes by day. Often for us it was a combination of giving him some space to let the storm pass, followed by a lot of cuddles and reassurance. It is scary to lose control like that. However, when there's another kid in the mix it can be difficult to give meltdown kid all the attention they need, and it's ok to balance their needs - it's also scary when your sibling loses it. You do the best you can and try to cost-average. We did our level best not to punish or get angry because of meltdowns, or otherwise treat them as "bad behavior" (but again parents are human and it's very stressful and sometimes you lose your cool). Some kids may respond well to being gently restrained and soothed; others get angrier and just need space. It takes some experimentation, and even then experimentation yields a short list of options that you may have to cycle through in any given scenario.

I have developed a sixth sense with my son where I can often see a meltdown coming, and if I play my cards right I can defuse it. (Not always, but a lot of the time.) My husband has not developed this sixth sense, and it can be extremely frustrating to watch the two of them, and mutter to myself "meltdown coming in 3...2...1..."

We have found over time that my son has a great deal of anxiety when he's not sure what's going to happen next, so we live our life according to fairly structured routines. House rules are designed to be summarized in one sentence. "IPad time is ____" "Bath night is ___, after dinner." And we stick to them. My husband's schedule is unpredictable, but I put in a lot of effort to compensate for that. At 3-4, we had EXTREMELY rigid and structured bedtime routines with numbered steps and a timer. Relatedly, we also give lots of countdown warnings so he's prepared to switch gears. "X will happen in 5 minutes." "X will happen in 3 minutes." "X will happen in 1 minute." We use a ton of phone / Alexa timers.

For behavior modification, we've rarely had luck with punishment, but lots of luck with rewards and specific praise. Bribes are "if you stop crying now i will give you a cookie" and should be avoided. Rewards are "If you take a bath without screaming you may have a cookie" - ie they're not a response to bad behavior, they're planned incentives to avoid bad behavior.

For specific praise, don't just praise stellar behavior. Praise partial, stuttering steps in the right direction. Effusively. I can't tell you how many times I've said things like "I saw that you were about to hit me. And you did get angry and yell, but then you took a deep breath and calmed down and you did not hit me. I'm very proud of how you calmed down."

You won't always get it perfect, or even close to right. But keep doing the best you can, try different ideas, and know that it will get better than this.
posted by telepanda at 1:43 PM on November 28, 2018 [24 favorites]


Maybe Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder is making things worse? Or just not enough time outside and/or apart from brother?

Husband is in the wrong. I'm sorry you have to deal with that. If he won't listen to you, maybe he should spend more time taking the child to the doctor.
posted by flimflam at 1:55 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Lots of good information up there, and I don’t have much to add that isn’t retread, but just be careful with the wilbarger protocol; if not done correctly or in the right intervals can exacerbate the issues you’re having (we had a provider that suggested it and did not give proper instruction, it made things worse. Way worse. For a while).
posted by furnace.heart at 2:07 PM on November 28, 2018


I’m so sorry -/ this all sounds so stressful.

Your kid sounds a bit like me at that age. I don’t know your kid, obviously, but the sensory stuff, especially covering his ears...

For me, it was overstimulation. A trigger was just the straw that broke the camel’s back; really I was freaking out because I was in pain, I didn’t know how to articulate that, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. “In pain” isn’t even a great descriptor, because it is a particular kind of pain that is not like any others I’ve experienced, but it’s the best I can do. It might help to reconceptualize some of these incidents as your son hitting his pain tolerance threshold rather than as tantrums.

I wasn’t diagnosed and didn’t receive occupational therapy. Somatic therapies have been hugely helpful as an adult — it feels like a safety valve is engaged, and the extra “stuff” starts to drain away. I’ve since encountered some nervous system stuff (polyvagal theory, mostly) that has helped me make sense of some of my nervous system quirks, and, even if it’s proposed explanatory mechanisms are wrong, some of the associated treatments have helped me considerably. There’s a bodywork guy in Denmark who works with this stuff. Memail me if you’d like more info.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't have any advice about how to deal with your child; my own are all grown. I wonder if maybe going to school is just too much for him to deal with. Will he have a couple of weeks off at Christmas? If he calms down a lot during that time consider not sending him back. Children mature differently, in a year he may be more ready for school.

Your description of him putting his hands on his ears made me wonder if he might like headphones with soothing sounds or music.

You sound worn to a frazzle! I feel for you. Any chance of a grandparent or other family member or close friend coming to stay with you for a bit? I do hope you have some supportive friends there, and also a little bit of time for yourself to exercise, to read, to do whatever you want by yourself.

Have you checked out online support groups for parents of neurodivergent children?

I hope for all of your family things get better soon.
posted by mareli at 4:25 PM on November 28, 2018


I am an Autism and Behavior Specialist with 30+ years of experience with 1000s of kids and adults with autism and behavior difficulties. I'm not going to write a bunch of information here but I am going to give you some resources and then follow-up with you on memail with one other thing.

Every emotion you are feeling is 100% valid. It's tough.

Go to this link for some online resources about preventing and dealing with behaviors. There is a whole lot of other information on that blog - you may also want to look at the section on Parenting for some support and additional resources (Autism Speaks has great stuff.)

Kind thoughts.
posted by ITravelMontana at 4:52 PM on November 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm an OT student.

He sounds like he has sensory issues. It may help to reframe how you describe the tantrums--if he has sensory issues, they're really meltdowns. That means that his brain goes into overload and he completely freaks the fuck out. He cannot help it and he is as miserable as you are. You're not a bad mom and you're not doing anything wrong. His brain just works a little differently and he needs help with things that a lot of other kids don't need help with.

Kids who are prone to sensory overload tend to constantly be living on the very edge of melting down. Imaginging those days that you're just having a really bad, rotten day, and nothing has gone your way since you woke up, and you feel on the verge of tears but you're trying to hold it together and get through the day. Then something stupid happens--you spill a glass of water, or you go to the grocery store and they're out of an item you really needed, and suddenly you fall apart. You're crying or you yell at someone or god knows what else. You know it's stupid and you know you're overreacting but you can't help it. You've been on the edge all day and this one dumb thing set you over the edge and now you're falling apart.

We've all been there. But for a lot of kids with sensory issues, they're there all the time. The entire world is magnified. They're ALWAYS on edge because the world is an inherently scarier place for them. Sounds are louder, lights are brighter, what's mildly uncomfortable for the rest of us is physically painful for them. They can't help it, and they don't have good coping skills because they're so young. They try to hold it together but suddenly something happens to make them cry--they can't play with the toy they want, for example--and before they know it they're crying harder and harder until it all comes out--how bright the lights are and how loud the sounds are and how hard it is for them to deal with it. Their brain goes into overload freakout and they're screaming. It's awful to watch. I can't imagine how it feels to go through.

If thats what's happening to your son, there's good news! There are so many things you can do to help him I wouldn't know where to begin listing them. There's basically an infinite amount of sensory activities that you can use to help him cope with the big, scary, overwhelming world around him. The OT can help with mild desensitization activities. You can make a visual schedule for him and use a timer to help with transitions. You can use rewards. There are all kinds of emotional regulation strategies that a good OT can use with young kids. There's one where you compare their body to an engine and teach them what to do if the engine starts going too fast. I learned one called the zones of regulation where you basically compare their emotional state to four colors--green, red, yellow, and blue--and teach them to recognize where they are, then teach them techniques to get back to "green" when they're on edge. The list goes on and on and on.

The key is to find a good OT and a good psychologist who will really take the time to work with you guys and find what works. Every kid is different. Every kid needs something different. It's going to take trial and error but eventually the meltdowns will get less frequent and shorter. I promise.

Good luck.
posted by Amy93 at 5:01 PM on November 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


I am so sorry that you are going through this. I have a 3.5yo so I feel your pain.

We recently went through a long tantrum phase, and we were similarly at our wit's end. We reviewed our overall situation and decided to really tighten up on our routine. We got back to narrating what would happen throughout the day to prepare kiddos' expectations. That helped a lot.

We also took a look at diet. I realized that there are certain foods that aren't exactly allergens, but that must cause tummy trouble because the next day was always a bad day. In our case it includes red sauce on pasta (but not pasta), and citrus. So, acidic foods. You might consider keeping a food journal to see if there might be a similar issue for your kiddo.

Since your family is apparently multilingual - is your child used to the German language? We go to a dual immersion school and we do see the kids who do not speak the second language act out a bit in the first year. They see their classmates following directions or seeming to follow the teacher's rules and expectations and it seems to affect their confidence. Once they understand that it's okay that they are not totally fluent they seem to relax, but it does take some time.

Those are just simple things that can apply to any kid. I don't have experience with kids on the spectrum and I most certainly do not mean to imply that these things will change the whole situation; I only mention it because they may be a few of the pieces of the larger puzzle.

As far as your partner is concerned, rather than (please excuse this phrasing) talking at him about what kiddo is doing and all the visits and blah blah blah, have you asked him what his plan is? If he is not following your plan (which has taken all of these visits and advice into account) then he must have a plan of his own, yes? Or is he winging it? Ask him if he knows what he's doing. I'm sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but it's important to get him to be clear on this point. There needs to he clear leader and a clear plan, and the willingness on both sides to follow the plan. You can each reserve the right to review the plan and adjust. You can each reserve the right to veto some portion of the plan, BUT, if so, that person needs to have a viable alternative to suggest, not just say "no we can't do it that way" leaving the other person to figure out an alternative.

I'm wishing you and your family peace.
posted by vignettist at 6:19 PM on November 28, 2018


It sounds like he is jealous of his brother. The examples you gave revolved around the brother. Something you could explore together.
posted by shalom at 7:11 PM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Seconding the suggestion to see if anything in his diet is making the situation worse. One of my brothers had nightmare tantrums when he was little, and it turned out he had a sensitivity to something in deli meats. (He has no problem with them as an adult.)
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:03 AM on November 29, 2018


Amy93 gave an excellent description of why kids with sensory issues have frequent meltdowns, and I hope it can help you empathize with your son. Being able to do that doesn't necessarily make it easier to listen to the screams, but it can at least help you reframe it as less a discipline issue and more a difference in his brain wiring that makes everything more difficult for him. My lowest moments with my son were right before we got his first diagnoses, when I was convinced that our problems were all due to my inability to parent or discipline effectively. I don't know if your setup involves attending therapy sessions with your son, but I can say that part of why we got so much out of OT was that a parent always attended and was part of the session, so that we could observe how the OT interacted with him and learn techniques that we could bring back home. We got a lot of good parenting training out of it, targeted towards our specific kid, since he didn't respond to a lot of techniques that work just fine on other kids.

Since you're not in the US, I don't know if you have access to many English parenting books, but in case you do, some that helped me through that stage were:
- Ross Greene's "The Explosive Child" which was helpful for ideas on how to anticipate / defuse / respond to meltdowns

- "The Out of Sync Child", which is about sensory processing difficulties and is worth a look to see if any of the content resonates with you. In particular look at the chapters on how sensory processing problems can affect gross motor skills.

- Alan Kazdin has some good explanations of how to design and deliver praise most effectively to shape your kid's behavior. A few lectures of his free Coursera course might be worth a listen.
posted by telepanda at 7:20 AM on November 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


For some reason cow's milk can cause problem. Try removing milk from his diet for a few weeks. I've met several people this worked for.
I still remember those days of anxiety and frustration when my son went through a long period of tantrumming. It's awful. He would follow me around, screaming. I feel for you.
Is there any way you can get a day off? Away for an undisturbed night, as well? You seriously need a break, and to look after yourself as much as possible.
When my son reached about 4 years, I started telling him he could repeat a demand 3 more times. The fourth repetition meant he had to go to his room. His struggle was visible. But eventually he got off the broken record thing.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:07 AM on November 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Floortime is wonderful and sounds like it could be just the thing for your son and you. It might be what you're getting in occupational therapy, but if it isn't, I recommend searching it out. It's a particular form of play therapy.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:00 AM on December 4, 2018


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