Preparing my son for 1st diagnosis/support meeting

My son is 9 and we believe that he is on the ASD spectrum. He struggles to process and control his emotions when confronted with change - often resorting to violence against others in his family or himself. He can relate to others emotionally and has formed friendships but seems overwhelmed at times by anger and sadness when there are small changes to what he perceives as the routine e.g. visiting a supermarket.

We have got a referral for CAMHS on Dec 19th and my wife and I have to bring Sam with us. We have tried to ask the CAMHS team how to prepare him for the session or what to tell him about why he is being taken out of school. They have no materials and no advice for us - which surprised me enormously - so I was wondering if anyone else has faced this and what they did?

I am also interested in hearing about anger management techniques to defuse and de-escalate his rages - what do you use? We are trying distraction and humour with mixed results.


  • Hi Quint, sorry, got nothing to contribute to your first question, but regarding the second one I just thought is may be useful to figure out if it is actually anger you are trying to manage. From what you describe in the first paragraph it sounds more like an anxiety that other people don't understand because there is nothing about the situation that would make them feel anxious. He may be kind of defending himself against something he perceives as threatening. The way you would react to this and measures that may help may not be exactly the same as if it actually really is anger or frustration. It's quite common that expression of feelings are misinterpreted, maybe both because the feeling seems out of place or too strong for the situation and because we are not necessarily very good in expressing feelings the way "normal" people do. What you describe sounds quite familiar to me, not really physical violence against others, but against myself and verbally against others or shutting down, but it has never been the frustration or lack of acceptance for someone else's needs that other people interpreted into it, it was rather being hurt or thrown out of the track and the fear that comes with that, and other people's reactions to what they think is going on only makes that worse.

  • Hi Quint,

    Hopefully there'll be some more community members able to share their personal experiences and offer some help.  In the meantime, in terms of useful pages on the NAS website, I would point you towards the diagnosis for children page which you might find handy.  It has a section on "after diagnosis" and how to tell you child with a link to books etc.  I know it isn't a perfect fit for your question but you may be able to adapt some of the information there to support your son prior to the assessment: 

    Also there may be some useful information for you on defusing problems that you describe on the behaviour management/ meltdowns page: 

    Good luck with the assessment in December.

    Warm regards,

    Heather - Mod

  • Hi

    Our 11 year old son has recently started attending CAMHS.

    We spoke to him, and advised him that the appointment was to try and help him with his anxiety, which he accepted and agreed was a good idea.

    At the appointment we were given a booklet each, one for parents and my son was given one, which helps kids understand more about ASD.

    I was advised to walk away when my son is having meltdowns, which are a mix of abuse towards us, and throwing things, screaming etc. It's easier said than done TBH, but we were also advised to not try and negotiate or rationalise while he is in full meltdown, as that will only upset him more. So we just make sure he is safe and let him ride it out. There are times where I have been able to prevent meltdowns, by comforting and talking softly, but that doesn't always work.

    Hope this helps.