Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not drowning, dog paddling

We're going two steps forward and 1 step back; how do you explain grief and the turmoil of emotions of losing a loved one to an ASD teen who is almost completely disconnected from his own emotions and cannot identify how he feels at any particular time of the day?
Yep, fun and games!

The anger and fury is foremost, of course, but we have managed to get him to the stage of actually saying that he doesn't know why he is angry and hurting others.
This gives us the chance to explain to him about grief and the various stages; we've assured him he is perfectly normal in feeling the way he does but he needs to manage his feelings in a different manner.

We have the anger management poster and workbook from this site - they have some fabulous resources - which we've had for some time and is successful in helping him identify how his different emotions snowball into anger but he is still unable to readily identify how he actually feels.
Unless we talk him through it judging from the visual clenched teeth, clenched fists, frowns, snappy speech yet he can swear up and down that he's in a good mood/having a good time/calm...everything that is opposite to the physical features.

This is where he has a great deal of trouble in identifying something that has upset him from earlier in the day or the previous day when it's been able to fester in the back of his mind, colouring his thoughts on everything else in a bitter pall rather than seperate the one issue that irritated him and discuss it/ think it over, etc.

So, he sits there and worries that he isn't showing any grief at his Pa's passing while we are reassuring him that, yes, he most certainly is and pointing out the connections between his behaviour and emotions.
Which we will be enforcing with a suggesion from a friend - taking photos of him in different moods and helping him identify how he feels by getting him to look at the photos and change them on the cork board as his emotions fluctuate throughout the day and then helping him identify the triggers which have caused the change in his emotions - IE a good time at footy training made him happy, not understanding a maths equation made him frustrated, not catching the ball at cricket made him angry with himself, etc.

This is another good one for suggestions, tips, a brief run-down for friends, family members or teachers on managing emotional regulation and anxiety for kids on the Spectrum.
And of course on top of everything is the fear - his beloved paediatrician is retiring at the end of the year, the disability worker has resigned and we (assume) he'll have to start over over with a new worker, a couple of others on the footy team have radically changed in temperament which has disturbed more than just Aspie teen, and he's trying to work through his grief for his Pa.


Anonymous said...

gosh grief alone is such a difficult road to negotiate,much less without added distractions.

You sound like you are doing a great job with your teen inspite of your own grief.

thinking of you all with much love.

Eccentricess said...

Those posters are fabulous.

*hugs to the three of you*

It's so hard to go through the stages of grief when you know what's going on. The first time is so awful with that added stress of not understanding what is happening to you.

I love the photo idea!

DQ said...

So much going on, so much for all of you to be dealing with.
Grief is a confusing, life-long companion. Which is hard enough to face when one is not burdened by ASD, the links you gave are really good though. Thank you for sharing what is helpful to you even during your own struggles.

Thinking of you all.

River said...

The cork board and photos sounds like a great idea and I hope it helps a lot with identifying emotions. Will Aspie mind you taking photos when he is angry/sad?
I hope the added complications of various people leaving won't be too hard.

Myst_72 said...

You are one amazing Mum.


Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

You know I think you are freaking awesome.

This just proves it again.

Love you babe.