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Shutdowns and/or meltdowns with school tasks


AQ score: 38, Aspie Score: asp 142/200 nt 58/200
Hello all.
I have been on these forums for quite some time. Mostly for myself. But today I have a question regarding my son.
He is not officially diagnosed, but my wife, my parents and I all think my son might be on the spectrum.
My father is officially diagnosed, I`m not. However I pretty much have all the same things my father has, and score very high on selftests.
I don`t plan on getting diagnosed because I have a pretty good handle on things myself, and do not feel the need right now to know it officially.
My son will turn 6 this october. We have not done anything regarding diagnosis for him because so far he has had not trouble in school, and we generally know how to act according to his behaviour and needs. This year he started the year in which he starts learning how to read and write. So it is not just play and fun anymore.
He has also been going to speech therapy with either my wife or me.
He has had some shutdowns and meltdowns in the past, but mostly at home and very rarely. We know how he can react to things and keep that in mind as much we can to avoid his discomfort (and our own)
In the school setting it cannot always be prevented. Yesterday I practised with reading and he did very well. He is a very bright young boy. But 10 minutes in he made a mistake by saying the word wrong. I gently told him how to read the word correctly but he immediatly shutdown, turned away. Got tears in his eyes mumbling he cannot do it and walked away to sit on his own. I waited patiently for him to calm down. Talked to him when he came back and tried some other words. After about 15 minutes he did read the word correctly and we stopped right after.
Today in speech therapy my wife told me he had a meltdown again. She is still a little vague when it comes to calling them meltdowns and shutdowns. So I think he had a shutdown. Which took away most of the lesson.

Reading the above I wanted to see how other parents with kids that are (likely) on the spectrum handle these situations. Is it mostly like I handled it. Or do you follow other steps to ease the situation for their child. Or is it nothing more than a patience game like I discribed above?

Thank you all for your input.
I’m not a parent, but for almost 20 years, I did work with school-age children.

First off, I think you’re doing really well. Sounds like you know your son so well and you are attuned to his needs. In that regard, just keep it up. Keep wondering, keep displaying patience, and keep working closely with your son.

Allowing a shutdown and then a repair seems really important. I think sometimes one of the best skills we can learn is resilience. Shutting down or even melting down is not always avoidable, but the ability to bounce back is extremely valuable.

Sounds like there are some confidence issues as well. We can become so perfectionistic in the way we conduct ourselves that is very demoralizing to make mistakes, especially in the presence of another. Remember how difficult it is for many of us, and we be yourself, to be watched. Children who are learning are being observed all the time and this, in itself, can be very stressful.

As the demands for academic learning increase on your son, also remember that even if he is doing well, he may be working harder than most to get to that point, and so it will be quicker to get to the point of shutting down because it took so much effort just to get through the lessons. At this point, having a means of communication and a way to express his feelings could be as valuable as the schoolwork that he is doing. I think you are already laying the groundwork for this and preserving your relationship with him is so important.

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