View Full Version : Why does my son seem to complain so often?


Gryphonfyre
04-18-16, 07:16 PM
My son is six. He hasn't exactly been diagnosed, but he had an evaluation that lasted several hours (I honestly thought we were going to get a diagnosis when I set this up; that was the whole point behind the appointment, I thought) that consisted of many tests: IQ, Rorschach, behavior-type inventory, etc. Anyway, the doctor (in psychology) came up with ADHD, depression and possible bipolar disorder. I'm wondering, though, why everything seems to be like pulling teeth. I went to pick him up from school today and heaven forbid I didn't drive and we instead had to walk the five to six minutes back home, quite literally, five to six minutes. He threw himself on the ground asking me why didn't I drive today.

Then, when we got home and he had a fudgesicle and fruit popsicle and I wouldn't let him have a cupcake, he lost it again.

If I say that we're going out to eat but it's not somewhere he wants to go, he starts whining about it.

If I tell him it's PE day and he needs to wear sneakers or take them with him, he falls apart.

If we went to the store and saw a particular item but couldn't get it that day and go back later to get it and they don't have it, he loses it.

What's going on? How do I address this behavior, because what I want to do is not productive?!

TIA

Lunacie
04-18-16, 07:48 PM
That sounds more like Autism Spectrum Disorder than Bipolar Disorder to me.

We encountered the same thing with my granddaughter, the therapist thought she had Bipolar but it was really Autism.

Although severe ADHD also can also lead to trouble transitioning ... and letting go of an idea or desire.

What works best for these kiddos is to let them know what to expect and remind them of that several times before it happens.

On Sunday remind your son will happen at school tomorrow, whether it's PE day or library day or whatever. Do this each evening when you tuck him in.

For going out to eat, take turns choosing where you want to go. Say, no whining, you got to choose last time, it's my turn now.

When you pick him up at school give him a choice of two snacks he can have. If he asks for something after he's finished his choice, say "Sorry dude, but that's not what you picked. Maybe you can have that for dessert tonight."

And mostly ... start reading about ADHD, Despression, Bipolar, and Autism.
:grouphug:

BellaVita
04-18-16, 08:44 PM
That sounds similar to me as a child, in some ways!

I always had to "have my way" and things done exactly how I wanted them - or else I would go into a meltdown. (I admit, I'm basically still the same :o)

Of course, no one understood me - I was called a brat, selfish, spoiled, and my grandfather when I was 12 even told me "if you keep doing this, you're going to be miserable."

The reason WHY I did those things - if I don't do things following an EXACT and I mean EXACT routine and order (and certain way) I get very chaotic feeling inside and it can lead to a meltdown.

If he's autistic, let me give a possible explanation about why the walk home would cause that sort of reaction:
-He wants, no, probably needs the same exact pick-up method every day, any slight changes can throw an autistic person into a meltdown, changes that most people wouldn't find to be a big deal.
-The walk might be very sensory overloading for him: the cars, colors, the bright sun, the noises, all of it can be soooo overloading to the point that it can actually cause pain. Imagine not being able to filter out any sounds or kinda just enjoy your walk while thinking quiet thoughts to yourself - nope it's like someone has placed large headphones on both ears and put them on full blast.
I'm the same same same way with walking outside near streets and stuff - in fact, I get so overloaded that it is unsafe for me to cross a street.

About the cupcake: he might have planned in his brain in advance that he was going to have a cupcake today, and he might have been looking forward to it. When that didn't go as planned, it's a huge shock and it can seem like nothing is going right. Like everything is out of line - even the good things.

Maybe PE day is completely overloading for him, maybe he's clumsy and is embarrassed by his lack of bodily control, maybe the shoes are uncomfortable for him. (Sensory issues)

There are so many things that could be causing his behavior - and by "complaining" he is really trying hard to express himself.

Now, I don't know if he's autistic, just saying how things might be for him if he is. Basing off of how things are for me.

I have this issue where I might show distress - but I have trouble articulating why. Especially when I'm overwhelmed in the moment. I wonder if he doesn't know how (or that he even needs) to say "this really bothers me because _________."

Also, doctors threw around "bipolar disorder" with me, they didn't think to evaluate me for autism. It can sometimes get mistaken for bipolar. Or, he could even have both.

Might be worth checking out an autism specialist, just to get an opinion.

sarahsweets
04-19-16, 04:38 AM
My son is six. He hasn't exactly been diagnosed, but he had an evaluation that lasted several hours (I honestly thought we were going to get a diagnosis when I set this up; that was the whole point behind the appointment, I thought) that consisted of many tests: IQ, Rorschach, behavior-type inventory, etc. Anyway, the doctor (in psychology) came up with ADHD, depression and possible bipolar disorder.

Are you satisfied with the way this went? There are no tests for adhd so I am not sure if that evaluation would have been accurate in getting him a diagnosis. DId you see a psychiatrist?


I'm wondering, though, why everything seems to be like pulling teeth. I went to pick him up from school today and heaven forbid I didn't drive and we instead had to walk the five to six minutes back home, quite literally, five to six minutes. He threw himself on the ground asking me why didn't I drive today.

Then, when we got home and he had a fudgesicle and fruit popsicle and I wouldn't let him have a cupcake, he lost it again.

If I say that we're going out to eat but it's not somewhere he wants to go, he starts whining about it.

If I tell him it's PE day and he needs to wear sneakers or take them with him, he falls apart.

If we went to the store and saw a particular item but couldn't get it that day and go back later to get it and they don't have it, he loses it.

What's going on? How do I address this behavior, because what I want to do is not productive?!

TIA

Do you often give him so many options for things that he wants? What I mean is not that you are doing anything wrong, just that maybe its time to get back to basics. Establish some sort of routine that does not involve him getting anything specific. Like, tell him that you will always pick him up in the car unless it rains. Then he will have something tangible that he can identify with and will know the outcome.
After school no sweets. Tell him in the morning that when he comes home he can have an apple or a berries (or whatever healthy choices you want to give him) this way he wont have it in his mind that certain sweets will be something he gets to have, he will already know what the choices will be.
Maybe eating out should be avoided. If you eat at home and he does have a melt down he is in a safe place.
I cant tell you how many places we had to order our food to go, or leave after appetizers because my son couldnt handle the stimuli.

Gryphonfyre
04-19-16, 10:29 AM
Good tips and great perspectives. Thank you so much.

Lunacie
04-19-16, 11:38 AM
This may help you understand if your son does have sensory overload issues.
Have your sound on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oe7yNPyf2c

Gryphonfyre
04-19-16, 03:27 PM
Oh, my gosh, thank you for that. I was already in tears because all of the things the boy seemed to be experiencing I've seen play out in my son and can see the anxiety and frustration in his eyes; and when she called him Alex, that's my son's name, I literally lost it. Although he has shown some signs of tolerance to some of these things, over the years, this has so much been my son:

Can't wear certain clothes, literally writhed on the floor, so I know what kind of clothes to get him and not get him.
Screams sometimes to drown out other noises.
Covers his ears when he hears sirens, garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner.
Wants to kill the sun because it's too bright.
Literally screams when he gets hurt, so he seems to have a more pronounced threshold for pain.
Almost vomits when I have him eat vegetables.
These are just to name a few.

How do I help him?

TygerSan
04-19-16, 04:12 PM
Another formerly sensitive kiddo (and still somewhat sensitive adult here).

I always was a people pleaser. I wanted to be my best for people, especially strangers, but also in school if there were expectations, I wanted to meet them. Sometimes it took all of my concentration and wherewithal to keep it together in school. To behave appropriately. To not react when there was a surprise assembly. To be able to deal with dropping my sandwich on the floor, or whatever other mishap might have occurred.

By the time I got home, I was toast. At my IEP meetings, everyone was shocked when my parents would document what my behavior was like at home. Home was where I could go, collapse into a heap of exhaustion and vent all of the frustration and humiliation of the school day. My parents bore the brunt of everything that happened, because I did not dare express any of it at school.

Give him time to process. Give him time to decompress. Real life is difficult to deal with, but try not to surprise him with things like a walk home. He may be absolutely exhausted, to the point at which the 6 minute walk seems insurmountable.

BellaVita
04-19-16, 04:20 PM
I have a video to share too, it's the best example I've ever found of what it is like for me. 100% accurate and trust me, not an exaggeration. This is how it is actually like.(24/7)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECU8y5i7osY

I highly recommend watching it.

(Autistics - it is a very overloading video, just letting you know)

Lunacie
04-19-16, 04:32 PM
It took awhile for my daughter to understand all this, but bless her heart she kept reading and learning until she did.

This morning we took my granddaughter to the diabetes clinic. After the doctor listened to her heart and lungs she came and sat by me.

I was trying to listen to the conversation between the doctor and my daughter out of my right ear while my grandchild was talking to me in my left ear,

and pulling on my hand and leaning on my arm and distracting me.

Then we stopped for lunch and while it wasn't very loud in there, by the time we left and I walked past someone wearing perfume, a crowd of people near the door talking to each other, and the bright light reflecting off vehicles outside the door I just wanted to be somewhere quiet and dark.

My daughter wanted to stop by the hardware store and because she gets it, she ask me and my granddaughter if we wanted to go home or go shopping with her.

Home, please!

Gryphonfyre
04-19-16, 04:33 PM
Thank you, TygerSan. Really appreciate it!

Gryphonfyre
04-19-16, 04:44 PM
Thank you, Lunacie, for the reality of your day(s), and, BellaVita, for the video. I've downloaded both videos ,and I think I'm going to play one or both before picking my son up from school to remind myself of what he's going through.

I can so relate as well, because after a trip to the grocery store and maybe one other place, even though there are other things on my to-do list, I just can't do anymore. When I get home, I just need some peace and quiet and feel like I'm on the verge of screaming, crying and/or taking a nap.

Considering I have similar reactions to things -- textures, sounds, stimuli in general -- I wonder why I forget to be more in tune with or show more empathy to my son... Poor guy. Such an awful mom... :(

BellaVita
04-19-16, 04:44 PM
Can't wear certain clothes, literally writhed on the floor, so I know what kind of clothes to get him and not get him.
Screams sometimes to drown out other noises.
Covers his ears when he hears sirens, garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner.
Wants to kill the sun because it's too bright.
Literally screams when he gets hurt, so he seems to have a more pronounced threshold for pain.
Almost vomits when I have him eat vegetables.
These are just to name a few.

How do I help him?

Definitely sounds like sensory issues.

I guess the way to help him is to try to make things as comfortable for him as possible. It sounds like you're already doing the best you can with that.

I am the same way about the sun, oh my goodness. It can be painful. I wear a sleeping mask every night. I keep my room dark. I don't open the blinds. I have large sunglasses that I can wear over my normal glasses if I need to.

The sun for me is the worst when I first wake up, especially if I wake up after little sleep and during a time I don't usually wake up. (Like the morning) It burns into my eyes and makes me want to scream. It is like it overloads my body system. It can put me into an irritable mood and gives me a headache and makes me feel nauseous.

But yeah, just finding ways to make him the most comfortable and so things aren't causing him pain.

Here's a suggestion:
About noises you can control (vacuum cleaner, garbage disposal) warn him in advance before you are going to do those things, so it gives him time to cover his ears. Perhaps buy him a pair of ear plugs to wear during vacuuming.

BellaVita
04-19-16, 04:49 PM
Thank you, Lunacie, for the reality of your day(s), and, BellaVita, for the video. I've downloaded both videos ,and I think I'm going to play one or both before picking my son up from school to remind myself of what he's going through.

I can so relate as well, because after a trip to the grocery store and maybe one other place, even though there are other things on my to-do list, I just can't do anymore. When I get home, I just need some peace and quiet and feel like I'm on the verge of screaming, crying and/or taking a nap.

Considering I have similar reactions to things -- textures, sounds, stimuli in general -- I wonder why I forget to be more in tune with or show more empathy to my son... Poor guy. Such an awful mom... :(

You aren't an awful mom!

Sometimes we forget that others are going through pain and difficulties too. Sometimes we don't even think to think that they might be feeling bad or forget to ask.

You clearly care very much for your son. It shows by how much you post here and for trying to find answers and help.

Cyllya
04-20-16, 04:40 AM
When people talk about executive function, the most common subtopics that seem to come up are some stuff like working memory, planning/organizing, attention control, and impulse control... but depending on what model of EF you're going by, EF may include "cognitive flexibility." If I understand correctly, someone with impaired cognitive flexibility will have the kinds of problems you describe in your first post.

Both conditions are associated with EF problems, but I get the impression that problems with cognitive flexibility are more common in autism than ADHD. The ASD diagnostic criteria contains this symptom: "Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns or verbal nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or eat food every day)." And the new version finally lists sensory issues as well. Here's a page with the full criteria. (https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/diagnosis/dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria) (Bit of a warning: That organization is widely considered a hate group among people who actually have autism. I'm linking to them anyway because the text is informative.)

In the past, ADHD and autism weren't supposed to be diagnosed together (apparently because autism inherently entails ADHD symptoms and it'd be redundant or something) but they changed it recently. That's good because he might be able to benefit from treatment of both conditions.

If the psychologist you took him to was testing for autism among other conditions, they probably used a test called ADOS, and it would include things like looking at a picture book without words and describing what's going on, and some seemingly pointless tasks that I think are mainly to give the examiner a chance to interact with the kid. If there wasn't any kind of autism evaluation, it might be something to push for going forward. There's also something like pervasive developmental disorder if he doesn't have the social problems of autism.

By the way, regarding that evaluation: It seems like the standard procedure for that sort of thing is to do a bunch of tests, and they will probably have a diagnostic opinion at that time, but then the psychologist spends a few weeks making a report on the whole process which includes scoring and interpreting the tests, explaining what is or isn't diagnosed and why, etc. There will probably be another appointment where they go over the results with you, even if they don't do any more tests.

I can so relate as well, because after a trip to the grocery store and maybe one other place, even though there are other things on my to-do list, I just can't do anymore. When I get home, I just need some peace and quiet and feel like I'm on the verge of screaming, crying and/or taking a nap.

Yeah, I have this problem too. :( There's two aspects to hypersensitivity and the second one gets a bit ignored.

1. Sensory input just seems stronger somehow. Normal things might be annoying, annoying things might be painful, painful things might be excruciating.

2. Sensory input sort of builds up and causes problems (usually emotional problems, but potentially cognitive or physical problems) until you can rest and recover. For lack of a better metaphor, I've compared it to everyone having a bucket that gets filled with water any time they have any input. Those of us with hypersensitivity have smaller buckets, or maybe all the input adds more water. Also, children generally have smaller buckets than adults. When the bucket overflows, bad things happen. Typical adults could be overloaded, but it takes more extreme conditions.

Back before I understood sensory issues, I thought I just had anger problems.

For the sensory problems specifically, one thing you might want to read up on is sensory processing disorder (FKA sensory integration dysfunction). I don't think your son would be diagnosed with that (if only because it's not a condition in the DSM), but other conditions like ADHD and ASD don't focus much treatment or therapy on the sensory problems. I think there's an increasing number of books on the topic, e.g. The Out-of-Sync Child.

It's normal for people to stimulate their own nerves for comfort. (Think of a stressed person rubbing their temples. Also, it's the basis of most stress-relief exercises.) When it's done with unusual frequency or by unusual means, it's usually referred to as stimming, which can end up being the repetitive behavior in the ASD diagnostic criteria or the driven-by-a-motor behavior in the ADHD criteria. Having an actual plan for this sort of thing is called a sensory diet, and that can give some relief to hypersensitivity (better than nothing).

Gryphonfyre
04-20-16, 05:17 PM
Wow, Cyllya, you rock! Thank you so much!

I work over 40 hours a week, go to school full time and am basically a single parent while my husband is deployed for a year. I don't have a lot of time for reading, but I really need to carve out some time on a regular basis to read up on these things for both of us.

Thank you for the additional nudge.