I'm new to the forum and was hoping for some advice. My daughter was diagnosed with ASD at 7 and is now in her first year at secondary. As yet she has not needed any extra help, other than attending a lunchtime social skills group. She doesn't often talk about any issues she might be having but tonight she said that she has these horrible feelings when she is at school. At the end of every lesson when she's leaving the class, she is worried as doesn't know if it is real or not - that the class might not have finished and she's getting up and leaving and everyone will laugh at her. She is finding this very upsetting and also called it a feeling of 'deja vu', or hallucinating, though maybe she's just finding it hard expressing herself. She has always been a big daydreamer in class - primary school called it her coping mechanism. But she's never mentioned anything about not knowing if she is experiencing reality or not.
Has anyone else come across this? I'm at a loss as to know what to do to help her.
Many many thanks in advance.
Fascinating, I think she is intelligent in trying to make sense of reality. And asking interesting questions.
I'm sure others have more to say on this subject.
As to what is real or not or are we all in a daydream, and the feelings of deja vu, very common and difficult to explain rationally. I used to experience it a lot, it was a phase I was going through.
There are different forms of deja vu. One is you experience something and immediately think I've done this or been here before. Yet logically you know it's the first time. Another similar form is when you're somewhere and immediately think, 'why am I here again? Or why am I doing this again?' then you realise it's not again, it's the first time and you've sort of projected your mind into the near future so it feels like you've done this. I know I'm bad at describing this.
Greetings. Yet this may seem bad or unhelpful, yet it is at least helpful in the "you are not alone" sense, maybe... and I apologise for it in advance, if apology is needed?
I am so glad that, as I was considering this Thread - "daydreaming?" - that someone ELSE replied to this first. Bear in mind, that I am over Forty, Late-Diagnosed, and such. And that there was no such thing as "Aspergers" before the 80s/90s...When at school myself, I was constantly accused of "daydreaming", and of being "shy". All of the time! I hated it, and to this day still do not understand what they meant by all of it themselves...Yet now, aware of Aspergers, and Thirty Years later... I can (dare to?) try to say something to a "parent". When your child acts differently at school and at home, then it is because the two environments are so *utterly* different, that is why. And it is different for everyone, whether acting distant or hostile...Close to an example you state: I recall also leaving classes *at the correct time*, yet being laughed at, due to not being "dismissed" by the teacher - as if it was not the "correct time" for THEM. I hated it all, utterly. I followed rules, yet socially rules were not followed...and that is what I could not follow most of all.Concerning "de ja vu", I agree with this, but one problem is as I state: everyone sets their own rules, and it does not seem to matter who is right or not, so long as the majority is supported... if that makes sense to anyone reading...Concerning "daydreaming", if it is what I ever did (and still do) then, as I said, it is also the taking of a long and careful time to think through and to weigh consequences. Typically, the time allowed is limited yet the results are long-term... again, if that makes sense to anyone else who may read this...
I should close this Post now, maybe, for it is long... and I close it with a great apology again, if needed.
Hi DC please do not feel you have to apologise. I am struggling to believe that yet again I found something so specific to my life as a youngster. I am glad I have found this thread as it is so much what I did at school. I was called a day dreamer throughout my school days,
One teacher told my parents while attending a parents evening that my theme song should be “ I’m busy doing nothing working the whole day through, trying to find lots of things not to do!”. Not very nice to say that, I remember very little about infant school apart from the worse times,
I never knew what was expected or at what time, I had no concept of time what so ever. I just followed what the other kids did, I do remember sitting trying to understand what was being said and struggling to associate it with the then and now moment,
I also experience de ja vu And always have, at times when it happens I stop still and think to myself “ hang on a moment, am I really here or back when this happened before, I then try to think to when it happened and sometimes recount the exact moment and think ,this is not real? It just feels like replaying the moment. Or like I am in the future looking back to now present time.
I also find I recount moments from the past in conversation, just random thoughts, imagine my surprise when suddenly it becomes relevant as the place or moment starts to be played out in the now.
I think I spent a lot of time studying words and conversation because I had to decipher just what was being said as I had no real understanding at that point.
questioning and trying to find a reason for the words I was hearing, to focus I needed to cut out as much outside interference as possible.
I still have to work hard to take instruction or truly grasp what is being said if there is any outside noise.
Enjoyed hearing your account / memories DC.
take care and keep sharing,we are all here to learn and share,and to pass on information through experience.
Thank you all for taking the trouble to reply and sharing your experiences. It is hugely reassuring to know that this is obviously not uncommon though I obviously sympathise with all the troubles you have gone through. As a parent, I am always struggling to understand the world through my daughter's eyes so it is so helpful to have someone explain in more detail what she might be going through. I'm still unsure how to proceed from here but think I will talk to her SEN at school and see if they are able to suggest anything to lessen her anxiety.
Your daughter is definitely not alone and I remember being perhaps 5 or 6 and going through a similar thing.
I would always daydream (and still do today up to a point) and would create fantasy worlds when I was at school as a way of coping as I found the environment very stressful to deal with. As a result I remember questioning myself when walking to school, if what I was experiencing was even real or had I made it up. The deja vu experience was also common. As for leaving lessons at the correct time, I was always the last to leave to ensure I wasn't leaving when I wasn't supposed to and I still make this mistake today. I walked out of a meeting the other week because I thought it had ended. Apparently not and I looked a bit of a numpty - especially as everyone was so shocked to actually say anything to me, so continued to let me walk out of the room and back to my desk! As far as I was concerned, everything that needed to be said and actioned had been done and everything else was just wasting time.
It might be worth asking your daughter what she thinks of school and what she likes and dislikes to see if something is causing her stress and making her act in this way. I wouldn't worry too much though and just continue support her as you are doing already.
I'm trying to work out whether the feeling your daughter is trying to express is daydreaming, deja vu, hallucinating or a feeling that nothing is real. I would say that these are all different things. Your description struck a chord with me when you said that she doesn't know if something is real or not. I think I started noticing a feeling early on in secondary school which I found difficult to describe but I tried to describe as feeling like everything is not real. It was quite disorientating and I found generally that my schoolmates didn't really know what I meant (with the exception of one other person). I think I can see what she means about walking out of the classroom and then not knowing if it's real.
For me the feeling that everything is not real was quite sudden. I could be standing talking to someone and suddenly feel that the whole situation was not real and I couldn't really register what the person was saying to me any more. I would be looking at a person and thinking 'but you are not real anyway and I am not real'. The feeling would pass within a minute or two. I continued having these feelings and to this day I can still have them though much less frequently (I am now in my early 40s). I would say their frequency was the most during my time at secondary school.
Unfortunately I was never diagnosed with anything at school (at that time there was little scope for identifying someone like me as autistic) and so stopped mentioning them to anyone as no one else seemed particularly bothered about the whole thing (other than my friend who also had them, but really we'd just say "ooh I'm having one now' to each other and then wait for it to pass). So I probably got through the whole thing by at least having one other person who seemed to understand what I meant and being able to just let it pass whilst they chatted to people around me trying to draw attention away from me (and vice versa).
More recently I have thought about the feelings and I think I would describe it as a feeling of disorientation and detachment. Kind of detaching myself from reality for a moment but not really knowing where the detached bit of myself had gone. I have a friend who is a psychologist who often talks about disorientation, detachment and the need to control. They seem to think that these things manifest in a lot of people but perhaps in slightly different ways. From my perspective I think it was the way that my brain was trying to work out how to cope with the world. I do wonder if I had them more during the secondary school period as that it when you go through some quite significant changes, i.e. puberty and various changes in how you have social relationships.
I don't know if that helps or not. It may not be the same thing for your daughter and I wouldn't like to put words into her mouth about what her feelings are. Unfortunately 30 years ago there was a bit of a 'like it or lump it' attitude. So there was no support at all to provide any possible coping strategies. As I don't have children I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the support structure at school these days. Is there someone who specialises in autism linked to the school that you could talk to about possible coping strategies? It's interesting that she's attached these feelings to leaving the classroom. Is that the only time she experiences them or is that just the times that she has been able to express to you? In which case a coping strategy could be used specific to having to leave classrooms/gatherings of people.
Thanks Starbuck. I will try talking to her again but she so rarely confides in me and it's difficult to find that window when she's open for a bit of a chat (usually very late at night as she's not much of a sleeper either). I know she is a real stickler for the rules, I guess because when there's a rule, it makes sense to her. And Secondary school has the threat of detentions for things like forgetting PE kit or school uniform (she has text me 10 times in the space of 2 mins in a panic from the bus when she has forgotten something, begging me to let her teacher know). She has come from a very tiny village primary school, where all the children grew up together and were very nurturing - they just saw her quirks as just that. Whereas now she is in a much bigger school where people aren't necessary so nice (she's already said that she's been told the older girls think she's weird).
But she's always said that she enjoys it there for the most part. She goes to the library at lunchtime on her own each day (which makes me sad but I've got to get over myself as she likes her quiet time) and she seems to have a few friends. I don't know how she's doing in classes yet, from her test scores she's told me, not too great but she says she finds it difficult to concentrate in class as people are messing about. It might also be because she daydreams alot and misses what's going on.
The school are aware of her diagnosis and have an individual plan set up where her teacher's are supposed to know her stress trigger points, and I did email them last night after my conversation with her. Apparently one of the teachers asked her today about how she felt leaving the class, and she told them exactly what she told me - that she's not sure if it is real or not, if it's actually time to leave or that she's dreaming it. The teacher told her she was going to talk to the guidance manager to see if she knew any more about this. I'm waiting for them to contact me.
I have to admit I was quite startled when she told me last night how she felt so knowing that other people know where she is coming from is comforting and gives me an insight into what she might be experiencing. Thank you.
Thanks Katfish, that definitely helps and I so appreciate people taking the time to try and shed some light on this for me. Daydreaming has always been a very big thing for my daughter. She kind of wears it as a badge of honour and if she's missed something in class or not paid attention to someone at home, it's always 'oh I was daydreaming'. I think it's her security blanket. This and her scooter - first thing she does when she gets home is scoots up and down in front of the house, rain or shine, de-stressing. I watch her sometimes and a good portion of the time she's staring off into space, daydreaming (usually about computer games apparently!)
The school we choose had a good reputation for support with SEN and pastoral care (actually the biggest selling point for my daughter was that it has no bells between classes - she has sensitive hearing so finds sudden loud noises very stressful. I remember at primary, they moved tables every half term and she became very agitated after one particular move. We finally discovered it was because they'd moved her below the fire alarm and she couldn't relax for thinking it was going to go off!)
I have emailed the school and they spoke to my daugher briefly today (sounds like to verify what I had said to them) and are now going to refer to the the guidance manager so hopefully they can provide some additional support/suggestions. I think leaving the classroom is the only time she is experiencing this sensation of not knowing if reality or not so hopefully they can do as you suggest and come up with some strategy.
Thank you so much for replying - I feel like I am now better equipped to talk with school, especially if they are not familiar with this particular aspect.
I'm so glad that the school has the capacity to be able to offer support to you and your daughter. It sounds like things have come a long way in 30 years and I'd like to think that things will improve across society for greater understanding of ASD which will help her in life generally.
Just a note on daydreaming. I've always been a daydreamer too. I can't help it, just drift off into my own little world. It's just how my brain works, it whizzes around extremely fast so I have to go into my own little world just to follow it. I consider it one of my assets though and have found it useful in certain aspects of work. Great that your daughter has found a way to deal with it by scooting. Just keep reminding her that some of these things are assets: you don't always realise that the people around you can't do these things and sometimes they can be useful!!!
Best of luck with the school.
I get this - Have done all my life - I'm ADHD, which goes hand in hand with ASD ad I've been a constant daydreamer all my life. I've experienced moments of blurring, when I'm not sure whether what I am exeriencing is reality or an associated day dream in my head.It's so easy to drift into your own place, leaving the distinction between imagination and reality barely notiiceable. I'd get your daughter checked for ADHD, because it's really well managed with a great medication called Concerta. However, at other times I scare myself as I think the inability to distinguish between what is inside your mind and what is outside makes me think of some form of jental infirmity such as schizophrenia. To be honest, ths does frighten me and this is the first time Ive spoken publicaly about it. I suppose I'm thankful to this Forum for providing an arena where I can voice such concerns. I woud be very wary about approaching a medical professional about this,as I don't think i could handle bebtreated as psychotic and medicated up t to the eyeballs. Comments welcome.