Hi, I am a mother of a 12 year old extremely high functioning aspie. For the past 2 weeks he has been complaining of being ill. He did have a slight cold but nothing some paracetamol wouldn't cure. He has missed a whole week of school as he says he doesn't feel up to it. He is complaining of a headache, so I have been to the optitions. Other than this he is just saying he isn't feeling well but can't explain what's wrong. I am considering taking him to our GP but my concern there is he can't explain what's actually wrong. I'm not sure if this is medical or psychological!! As my son does not understand his body, he just doesn't know how to deal or express with illness. I can't actually find anything wrong with him. He's off his food lately, not that he eats much anyway! He was out all day with his dad yesterday and was fine. Today he's back in his bed saying he's unwell!
I have no idea how what to do. I was just wondering if any other parents have been through this, or if there are any individuals with ASD who experience this themselves and have a better understanding than me!
I have found in the past that when my son becomes anxious over something he displays it with feeling unwell, feeling sick, headache etc. Usually I can unpick the anxiety and get to the root of the problem. This is different this time and I am at a complete loss!
Any advice would be grealy appreciated.
Many thanks and apologies for such a long message.
I had extreme head pains when I was a teen not sure if its an aspie thing, some day's you just cant face the overpowering world around us and need to lock ourselves away. Does he have noise cancelling headphones? Is there something going on at school bullying ect I missed allot of school through this and because I didn't understand the social aspects of school. Is he picking up on someones emotions around him? I tune into people when they are upset and it knocks me 4 six.
Oh thank you for your reply. That's very interesting. He does have headphones yes. I have spoken to him about school, doesn't seem to be any bullying. However he has just started comp and as he is extremely clever he's feeling the pressure slightly now. He's adapted very well to the social side and has found clubs to go to instead of being on the yard. I didn't think of others emotions. He's always seemed oblivious to other people's emotions so I didn't give that a thought! He has a 4 year old sister and I am querying ASD with her. I know he's struggling to deal with her at the moment. He just wants to sleep and stay in his bedroom but he's never been a good sleeper which is why I am worried now.
Does he seem particularly tired/exhausted?
My only suggestion would be a shutdown. I certainly get headaches with those.
I go into a shutdown when I've been overwhelmed for a long time, but not in a way that makes me 'snap' and causes a meltdown. It's more likely to happen when things just keep building up, until my brain has just had enough and gives up. It's most obvious to the outside world (in my case, my husband is able to recognise them) because I become very 'zombie'. My usual bouncy walk can turn more to a shuffle, I'm clearly low on energy, I often yawn a lot, I tend to stare and not really focus on anything, I can stop talking completely or I mumble or find myself stumbling over my words if I try and force them out, so I might say things in the wrong order/stammer a bit/have to stop and pause after each word.
Internally, my perception of the world becomes even more hazy than usual. It feels like I'm seeing and hearing things from underwater. Words are mumbled, it's hard to focus and work out what's going on. Of course, that causes a headache. If a shutdown gets particularly bad, the issues with processing can reach the point where people will be talking and it's like they're talking a foreign language - I just can't understand what they're saying - and if I try to read something then I can recognise the letters and they should make sense, but I can't work out what the word is. Or I'll look at an everyday object and know what it is, but not quite be able to work out what I'm seeing - for example, looking at a box of biscuits and knowing that they're biscuits, but not being able to work out what kind they are even though I've seen them thousands of times before. And of course, there's the tiredness. Absolute exhaustion, like moving my body is the most immense effort.
I definitely lose my appetite a bit when I'm in a shutdown. Or at least, I can stomach comfort food items but couldn't imagine sitting down to a meal, which is probably a good thing when I don't even have the energy to actually prepare a meal. Usually two things will bring me out of a shutdown - I'm pushed to the point where it turns to a meltdown and I can then recover, or I get enough sleep that I find the energy to drag myself out of it.
I struggle to sleep also I have a completely dark room no light from standby items and I wear ear plugs it's the only way I can get decent rest. I have also recently been given Vibes ear plugs they cut out background noise but let you hear people talking, I didn't realize how noisy the world was especially when sensitive to sound. I hope your son is better soon.
Thank you so much. I will definitely look into ear plugs for him. Thank you me too.
He's very tired and is sleeping a lot. He's having a few days in bed and then he seems ok for a day, then we're back to square one again. He just keeps saying he's got a headache.
Wow thank you so much, that's a fascnating read. I have never heard of a shutdown before!
He's refused to eat or drink today, so after reading your reply I tested your theory. I gave him a chocolate biscuit and he ate 2 straight away!!!
He's had a lot of change since September as he's started comprehensive school. He had a meltdown 2 weeks ago and said he didn't want to be autistic anymore .
I don't think it's anything medical as he's ok one day and then crying and sleeping for a few days after.
Thank you so much for your response it has been very helpful x
Hi NAS36510. I’m talking purely from my point of view. I’m a 50 year old who was diagnosed with autism at the end of October last year.
Reading your post, I get a sense that your son is simply overwhelmed right now. Imagine what it feels like when you are feeling overwhelmed. We aren’t thinking clearly when we become overwhelmed and for someone with autism, we are feeling overwhelmed and it’s like a bomb has gone off in our brain. (Sorry, I’m saying ‘us’, I don’t mean to speak for all people with autism, just those perhaps who also experience what I do). It’s like when the bomb goes off, all thoughts and connections in the brain are shattered into pieces and scattered throughout the brain. Nothing makes sense and I certainly can’t tell anybody what’s wrong with me, what I’m feeling, what caused it etc.
I think my burnouts started when I started comprehensive school. Up until that point I managed pretty well but when I went to comp I just couldn’t make sense of it all and I would take to my bed or I would lay on the settee all day. I took a whole year out of school in my second to last year.
Imagine if someone had set a bomb off in your head. It’s like the best thing to do is to allow all those shattered and scattered pieces to gently, in their own time, settle themselves back down. For me, I want to say that what your boy needs now is lots of love and compassion and time and space to just be for a while. We are so obsessed, as a society, that we all have to do things at the same time and in the same way. For example, we all have to go to school at the same times, wear the same clothes, learn the same lessons, play the same games, etc etc and it just doesn’t work like that for some of us, and particularly those of us with autism. I would say fill his body with lots of great nutrition. A green juice with turmeric or something is a natural pain relief and provides the body with lots of almost instant goodness. Encourage him to get fresh air, exercise, lots of fruit and fresh foods. Let him know that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with him, that it’s ok. It’s ok to take to your bed and get rest. Just because he’s not following the herd, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him. Childcare could be a consideration if he’s not at school. Why do you need to do anything? What is it that you would like to achieve by doing something? Why is it not ok to stay in bed all day and not go to school? Why does he have to do anything?
Could he be depressed? I suggest getting him to his GP.
Also see http://aspified.com/burnout/ by way of contrast...
Thank you for your reply. I have never heard of a burnout before. If taking to his bed is what he needs then I will continue to let him do this. I was simply looking to see if others had had this experience and I could then rule out a medical issue. He has definitely felt the pressure since starting comp. He knows he is extremely intelligent and is very proud of this. He is in the top set in school which involves a lot of pressure to maintain his grades. I try to relieve the pressure as much as possible but he wants to be the best he can be academically. This is a lot of pressure for any 12 year old, let alone a 12 year old with ASD.
By doing something, I meant making things better for my son. Trying to find ways to make this easier for him. He completely understands his ASD and we are very open and honest about it. Now that I have information about burnouts I can explain this to him.
As for nutrition there lies my problem. My son has huge food issues and eats very little. What he does eat is neither healthy or nutritious. This has been the case for the last 10 years. The going out for fresh air is something I can do with him though. As for childcare when he is off school, he prefers to be home alone and is more than capable as he is very self sufficient.
Thank you for all your advice. I will do more research into the burnouts. I find the more information I have the better I am to be able to help my son.