Good day all,
I am new to the forum. My daughter is 12 and was diagnosed with Asperger's a year ago, although we have suspected she had it ever since first grade when a psychologist tested her at her school for other disorders (she tested negative for all the 'suspected' things, like ADD, but the psychologist picked up on signs of Asperger's during the testing). It has been a long road to get an official diagnosis and now we are finally starting to get some services to help my daughter with her struggles.
For the past few months, however, my daughter's usual meltdowns at school have been more profound and she has started professing a desire to kill herself. She sometimes tries to physically harm herself (choking herself with her hands until she is blue or strangling herself with an article of clothing) and has talked to her teachers about ways she can 'end it all' in these dark moments. I am terrified by this new and disturbing behaviour and don't know how to make her stop, nor do her teachers.
My daughter has just started seeing a psychologist, but the appointments are not regular, so I don't find that this is helping just yet. She will not have an EA at her school until fall, either, so between now and then, I feel like this may just keep on happening because she does not yet have the full level of support she needs. I work full time and it is interfering with my ability to do my job when I get called by the school on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, sometimes needing to leave work and go get her because she is in such a state.
She had a particularly bad episode yesterday, and after trying to choke herself a few times and repeatedly telling teachers she wanted to die, I had to go to the school to get her and bring her home. I am now on compassionate leave from work to try to deal with all of this and really don't know where to go other than back to the psychologist (which we are doing, of course).
Has anyone here had experience with suicidal ideation in their Asperger child? If so, how did you (and his/her teachers and mental health professionals) handle it? I am open to any suggestions that might help me to deal with her bouts of severe depression and self-harming.
Do you think it would help your daughter if you talked to her about AS and tell her she has it, and that explains (partly at least) why she is different in some ways from other people? It is too bad she has missed all the years of help she could have had if she had been diagnosed years ago.
I don't have any knowledge of suicide and AS. I hope someone comes along to address that.
It may help her to stress that AS is okay. Everyone is different anyway. She has strengths and challenges like we all do. AS though could explain why some things are difficult for her--too much noise, crowds, change of plans, scratchy clothes.
My daughter is 24 and is diagnosed Aspergers. She literally hated junior high and high school. No one would do a diagnosis until she requested it now. But, she wanted to die, too. She put cuts on her arms in high school. She talked about doing serious things. Although math and such was impossible, she was good in art. Your daughter might enjoy making things, drawing scenes from daily life, origami, painting. I found artist expression helped my daughter. Words were not necessary for her through those things.
I told her that being different was fine, good, and that she had "golden hands".
I found a counselor she liked. They met once a week for awhile. She still has times where she feels suicidal. I tell her she wants relief, not to die. She is overwhelmed. That seems to take some pressure off.
I hope some of this is helpful. Expression is so hard for Aspergers.
My son as Asperger’s, he was diagnosed with it ten years ago. I have to say I am very sorry to read your post and you naturally have my deepest concerns and sympathises for your worries. This must be a very upsetting and traumatic time for not just you but your daughter.
One of the traits of Asperger’s is an inability to understand verbal communications and to be unaware of body language that we generate. Most people can pick up clues as to others feelings from the body language/facial expressions that others are displaying, people with AS have difficulty with this. When in a crowd most people can pick up small clues as to when to speak and when to be quiet from the body language of others. Unfortunately because people with AS find this very difficult it can be extremely difficult for them to fit in with the crowd. They can find that making friends, something that generally comes naturally to most people, very difficult. They can become very isolated and at times are open to bullying. Although there is a want, need and desire to fit in with others AS suffers find it extremely difficult. It is this that can bring about feeling of frustration. Constant rejection or fear of rejection by those around her will lead to frustration, depression and self-arming.
I am simply offering you an opinion here but my opinion is that it is the frustration that is bringing about the extreme reaction your daughter is showing.
You had posted the school is aware and so are the doctors, this is of course the correct thing to do. It goes without saying that you are a loving caring mother and you of course reinforce this daily with your daughter. If you have not already explained to her what her condition is, now is the time to do so.
This is all about building bridges here and restoring confidence. The school and the doctors must be involved, those around her must be involved, it is important now that anybody close to your daughter is made aware of her condition, made aware of the frustration that comes with it and made aware of the actions that need to be taken to restore confidence.
I don’t know whether this scheme will work for you but at one point in my sons school education his occupational therapist suggest something she called the “circle of friends”. This was a very informal scheme whereby a small group of children from the school were handpicked to look out for and guide my son. At the time, the reason for the circle was not fully explained to the children but they did look out for my son, they did report any form of bullying (I am not suggesting your daughter is being bullied) to the teachers. It did work, the children looked after him, and it was another set or eyes and ears on the ground, so to speak.
The line you have to walk here is very fine, on one hand you want to help on the other you are afraid to make it worse but you can walk this line. You cannot be at school with daughter, you cannot be there 24/7. But you can utilise all those around you and her and you can restore confidence but it is going to take time. All of this must and I cannot stress this enough, must be approached in a calm and collective manner. There has to be an end game here.
I really do hope this all works out for you and if it is of any comfort you have my support.
If you have not read, I would recommend you and your daughter read the excellent “Geeks, Freaks and Aspersers Syndrome”. It is written by a 13 year old child and we, including my son, have all read it. It gives great insight and extremely helpful. It is written by a child with AS for a child with AS.
Hi, sorry your having such a hard time of things with your daughter, I know this is all very scary. I don't know much about Asperger's, but I do know self-harm. Your daughter will probably benefit more from a psychiatrist than a psychologist. A pdoc (psychiatrist) has more advanced training for these disorders and is also an M.D. so they can prescribe meds, do blood work or any other labs that might be needed. There are medications that help with the urge to self harm, the main one is Lithium, you might ask your Dr. or if you go to a new pdoc, about the benefits of Lithium for your daughter.
Hang in there, your daughters very lucky to have a mom that cares for her so much.
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