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Self Harming - Feeling Lost


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#1 Makkacat

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 03:42 PM

Hi All,

 

My 14 yo ASD son self harmed, just a little cut, just over a year ago.  There were one or two minor and superficial cuts after that, then nothing for a long time.   Then a couple of months ago, he made 15 cuts on his arm, we'd had a big row, I blamed myself.  Nothing for a while.  Then last night, he showed me his arms, he has dozens and dozens of cuts on the outside of his forearms.  He gave me a bag full of bloodied toilet tissue that he'd cleaned the cuts with.  He says it's all one or two days old.  

 

He's just got a girlfriend, just a few weeks ago.  He's been getting up in the morning without hassle, getting dressed, having breakfast and going out to meet her so they can walk to school together.  They message each other constantly.  I thought it was cute, nice that he has a special friend, but last night he also told me that she self harms too.

 

I don't knwo what's on his phone, what they talk about, I've not checked his phone for years.  He gets super defensive about it.  I feel like I have let him down  My whole job has been to protect him for the last 14 years, now I can't.  I don't know what he's doing.  I also feel that some of the pressures he feels have been put on him by me, pressure to do homework, keep up at school etc etc.

 

I've told school, about the escalation in his behaviour and also about the girl. The are aware and vigilant.  As it happens we have a CAMHS appointment  next week.  I've informed them too.

 

Is there anything I can do?  Anything?  If he spends time with this girl, will that normalise the behaviour?  Or will they support each other not to?  I don't think I can tell him he can't see her, not without jeopardising my relationship with him.

 

Sorry.  Long post.  Desperately sad and anxious.



#2 apricot

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 05:21 PM

There is not much you can do. Stay calm, be supportive and try not to get too upset. As if he sees it upsetting you, it will make him feel more stressed which may go on to lead to more self-harming.

Think of it as a bad response to overwhelming stress. 

Can you reduce stress or channel his feelings into something more appropriate?

Just trying to force him to stop doing something that makes him feel better is not going to work. 

Consider dropping some GCSEs or increasing physical activity.

DS and older DS both self harmed in a similar manner to your son as a response to pressure. It really upset me. It stopped when the GCSEs were over and the pressure lifted.

And remember, self-harming is very common in this age group in this generation. There are probably a lot of children in his class who self harm. 


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#3 Makkacat

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 07:50 PM

Thank you, Apricot.

 

Yes, he says he knows at least six kids who do it.  It scares me.  He assures me he has no intention of doing anything that would be catastrophic..

 

Getting him to do more physical stuff is difficult, he does three activities a week and finds starting new things agonising.  But dropping lessons... I spoke to the Head of SN today, we started talking about dropping something, as when he gets into GCSEs next year there will even be more pressure.  

 

Maybe I need to have a meeting at school sooner.  Drop something now.  He says he doesn't want to, he hates being different, but he is different, he's not coping.

 

Thanks for responding.  Staying calm is not easy.  

 

:-(



#4 imperfect parent

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 10:53 AM

No experience of self harm, but plenty of experience with high anxiety.  You need to listen to him and offer him options, but allow him to make the decisions.  Unless handled well dropping subjects will reduce pressure of work whilst increasing anxiety relating to explaining why and feeling different so overall it will be a neutral action.

 

Try to be available to listen when he wants to talk, put your view across as one view, not the only view, of what might be best and take action when he wants you to or not if as he wishes.  You can only support him if you have his trust and that means that he has to have control.


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#5 apricot

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 11:55 AM

I agree, dropping courses mid way through the year will make him feel different. But when he moves onto GCSEs, the groups change and everything is different anyway. That gives you a chance to agree to drop something(s) without him feeling obviously different. Particularly if there are other children also dropping subjects.

Schools do tend to get completely focused on pushing children through GCSEs.

CAMHs recommended taking a more relaxed approach, after all they can always take GCSEs at college or as adults. His mental health needs to be the priority, not the school's GCSE results !


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#6 Makkacat

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 10:43 PM

Good points, both.  He hates feeling different.  And he needs to be in control of the solution, otherwise it's something else being imposed on him.  

 

Appointment at CAMHS on Monday, hopefully we'll get some help there.  School have been fine so far, it may be that next year is the righ time to drop something, for now just reduce the homework requirements even more.

 

Thanks for your wise words.



#7 imperfect parent

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 09:47 AM

It's not easy supporting our kids, but I've found this site invaluable over the years.  Often I felt pushed against my instincts by schools, but support from here has helped me see when I need to stick to my approach and when to vary by offering alternatives.  The art with anxiety is taking control while allowing choice however so many schools and professionals resent the parent having control and want the young person to be independent when the are not ready; this has caused us huge problems.

 

I thought life would be easier once school had finished, but adult services are a nightmare.



#8 apricot

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 12:14 PM

If you can get a letter from CAMHs recommending a reduced timetable/fewer GCSE subjects then you will find negotiating this with school a whole lot easier. Our CAMHs were very obliging when I requested this. They may not offer unless you ask.


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