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FAQs

Below are questions asked and answered by parents. The advice is what has helped one or more parents; it is not medical advice from a doctor or therapist.

 

He calls from school once or twice every week saying he is “not feeling well”, “head hurts” or “stomach kind of hurts”. We have gone to the pediatrician, but nothing is ever really wrong with him.

It may be stress; this is especially true if you notice that after some downtime he is feeling better. These kids tend to have less “emotional energy”. He will probably not be able to identify that he is stressed; he just knows he does not feel good. Get advice from his psychologist; maybe shortening his school day or getting out of school early one day a week. Keep a record to see if he is calling you on the same day each week; it may be a specific class that is taking too much out of him.

It seems like it’s always gym class that my child gets in trouble in. This class should be fun for him and not nearly as stressful as a core subject.

Gym class, group sports, special activities all require more interaction than a regular classroom situation does. A lot more is going on around the child; it can be overwhelming and can lead to aggressive behavior on your child’s part. Consider asking the school if he can have a study time instead of gym class. That will give him a break during the day, and, if he is able to work during that period, may mean less homework at night when he is already depleted.

My child is more stressed and having more compulsions as it gets closer to Christmas. What should I do?

What is exciting anticipation for some kids can be stressful anxiety for these kids. Try to diminish as much stress as you can. Mention visits or outings the morning of the event instead of days before, to shorten the waiting period. Do not feel that your child has to participate in everything; he/she may be much happier skipping the school play or class visit to Santa. A short, good day is much preferable to an all inclusive, bad day. You may need to wait until Christmas to put any presents under the tree; seeing them there day after day and not being able to know what is in them can be very stressful to kids with OCD or anxiety issues. Limit talk of “what do you think you’ll get?” or “have you been good, do you think you will get what you want?”. Do not threaten that they will get a lump of coal if they cannot be good. They are most likely putting forth all the restraint they can; their change in behavior is a warning sign that their stress level has increased. The change in routine, added activities, lights, decorations, and all the other stressors of the season can be overwhelming. Try to keep some aspects of their life on the same routine as before. Lower your expectations of what they can do and how much they can handle until life returns to its normal routine.

Every morning it is a battle for him to get dressed. He is perfectly capable of doing it himself and I know all the other kids his age dress themselves. He just sits and does nothing; it may be 20 minutes and he will have one sock on.

Never let what “other kids” (or parents) say or do delegate how you raise your child. His needs are different. Encourage him to dress himself when there is no rush; perhaps weekends and when they do not have to hurry to be ready for school.   But when the pressure is there to get ready quickly, it can be tough for them. Waking them earlier is not always a good option as these kids often need more sleep than other children; to recoup from the emotional toll each day takes.  Clothing choices should be picked out the night before and ready for the morning.  Assist them getting dressed.  Having fewer demands in the morning is much easier on them and they can get to school without having a meltdown.  Eventually your child WILL dress themselves and for now it is so much more important that they can have a good day at school than that they dress themselves every morning.

I make allowances for my child that I wouldn’t for a “normal” child. She is sometimes disrespectful to me. I know it is because she is just so stressed, in a bad place herself, but I get embarrassed sometimes by what other people think.

Sometimes when the turmoil is so great on the inside, some of it has to flow outward. Your child may snap at you even when she can be pleasant to other people.  She may be using all the emotional reserve she has being polite to those people.  There will be times that people may seem appalled at her behavior towards you. Your responsibility is to your child.  She is probably doing the best she can.  When some of her stressors are reduced or eliminated, and she has more emotional energy for the outside world, her behavior will improve.  Do not worry that others may be judging you; measure yourself by how much effort you are putting forth to help your child.

 

She gets so resentful when I ask her to do even little chores; she gets upset and says I am short with her.

It may work a lot better to write the chores on a list for her. That way, you do not have to repeat the list or instructions to her if she gets distracted. It can seem overwhelming to have too many verbal instructions. She will feel a sense of empowerment by being able to choose the order the chores are done in and being able to recheck the list if/when she needs. Be sure to have a pencil there for her to cross through each chore as she finishes them, as this can be rewarding.

 

My child avoids eye contact with everyone.  This gets him in trouble at school and adults feel he is disrespectful.  I do feel he is paying attention to what people say to him, I just do not know why he will not look them in the eye.

Think of someone talking to you while standing 6” in front of you, looking you directly in the eye.  It would be overwhelming; you would not be able to concentrate on what they were saying because of your personal space being invaded.  That is how your child feels just from meeting someone eyes.  He has to concentrate so hard on maintaining the eye contact, he cannot pay attention to what is being said.  Another complication your child could have is that she gets so distracted by a person’s facial expressions that she cannot concentrate on what is being said.
Explain these issues to his teachers and other adults.  It has nothing to do with disrespect; he is paying complete attention, just in a different way than many other people do.