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Verbal abuse when anxious
  • Aggie
    Posts: 8
    My son is having difficulty at school as he is very anxious which manifests as extreme challenging behaviour. In the past year son has been excessively restrained by 4 adults then physically assaulted by a policeman and has had several traumatising experiences with general public verbally challenging him and he has developed ptsd. Moving forward to starting a new school, he clashes very badly with one particular boy who calls him names and has physically hit him and destroyed personal items. This boy is black and unfortunately son now using racist comments against him. But not against any other black people so I know it’s not racism but his way of expressing his inner emotional turmoil, as he cannot communicate or even recognise how he feels. But what to do? How can I stop this? In times of calmness he will tell you how horrible racism is so I know he understands it is wrong to say derogatory comments. But when highly anxious and in meltdown he keeps reverting back to it. School who don’t understand, think he does it deliberately and that it is not his disability. How can I explain to School? Advice welcome.
  • SGCmum
    Posts: 84
    Hi Aggie. That sounds like really tricky situation. I'm not sure how much advice I can give, but you are not alone. My 11 year old becomes extremely abusive when highly anxious, mostly towards me. She will say the most horrible, inflammatory things that seem designed to get an angry or hurt reaction. I used to think it was deliberate ( before I discovered PDA and anxiety) and she has always insisted that is not her intention to annoy me. Now I realise she is genuinely unsure why she says these things, but she does seem unable to control it at all. Some one once said to me she believes pda, asd, adhd and others all come under the same umbrella. She included Turets in this, so maybe there is a link there that is worth exploring. Also, I find if I'm trying to explain difficult behaviours to people, I often say I have read a lot and seen that these things are not uncommon in PDA. Of course, that will be easier if anyone else posts on here with similar issues. One more thing, I've been looking at Sally Cat, a lady with PDA who posts quite a lot. I think I remember her putting on something about not being able to stop herself saying unpleasant things. She also said she hated doing it, which is probably the case with our kids. Good luck, I hope it gets easier.
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,151
    Hi, we have very similar issues and one of our daughter’s teachers also suggested it could be linked to Tourettes... ie. perhaps they share a common genetic and neurobiological factor.

    It feels as if our daughter’s brain brings forward the things she most wants to hide, as the more she tries not to do something the harder it becomes not to do it. She also understands that the words she uses aren’t acceptable and when her anxiety rises it’s as if her brain uncontrollably takes over and uses what she knows will get a reaction!

    I know our daughter gets really upset after an incident of verbal abuse and hates herself for the things that she has said but doesn’t mean!

    Unfortunately we haven’t found any answers yet. However prior to a full-blown panic attack we have had success saying things like “we’ll listen/talk to you when you have words we’d like to hear”.

    This is a tricky situation and can feel very embarrassing in public but I have to hold onto the fact that it’s a coping mechanism. We just keep trying different things and different strategies and hopefully we’ll find something that will eventually mean this will reduce.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,578
    Hi, I agree that when our children are in a Meltdown/Panic Attack they will do or say things to make the other person or situation go away. When in panic our children can not control what they say/do.
    I'm not sure that we can stop our children's reactions to panic ie what they say or do at the time.

    I think you may need to ask the school to understand his PDA in terms of a disability with high anxiety and by realising when he 'panics' he can't control what he does/says.
    You may need to ask the school to separate the 2 boys ie put them in different Tutor Groups or classes etc

    Sometimes the only thing we can do is admit the boys don't get along (whoever starts it, causes it or ends it) - the school need to address this situation, you son has SEN and they need to support your son by resolving the issues between the 2 boys.
  • AngieH
    Posts: 5
    Hi Aggie,

    You are not alone. I have a 12 year old son, who is the most loving, gentle, sensitive soul, but when he starts having a meltdown and uses verbal abuse, it's like he has become another person. Jekyll & Hyde springs to mind. His anxiety goes through the roof.

    He has got much much worse since starting secondary school.

    Our son is attending CAMHS, but they never witness this behaviour, I keep a note of dates and abuse, to advise them, but as for the growling, and squaring up to me, they don't see that, and that is my issue. We are parents who are really struggling, we aren't getting much suppoirt from CAMHS, he was last seen by them at the end of Aug and his last appt was cancelled at the last minute. CAMHS will not listen that we believe he has PDA, and have advised they don't diagnose it, so its kind of been ignored by them. The cancelled appt was for us to sign consent forms for ASD assessment. It has taken a year to get to this point, and now we have to wait another month due to the cancelled appt!

    School have been supportive, he has a drop in area he can go to if he is stressed or anxious. He has recently been dianosed with vision stress, so now has colkoured acetate to use over white paper to read easier.

    When he starts being verbally abusive, it is mainly all at me. The things he says are very hurtful, cruel and vile. Once he comes out of the meltdown he is full of apologies, but has no recollection of saying the things he's said and denies saying them. I know he cannot help it, its his anxiety and he cannot control it.

    Its not easy!


  • June67
    Posts: 812
    Oh my goodness, your CAMHS are even worse than ours, an appointment to sign a form for assessment for a 12yr old! Haven't they heard of the postal service, and how hideous to cancel appointments for someone with suspected ASD. I really feel for you. Keep going
  • CAMHS are a nightmare. My GP doesn’t hold a high opinion of they way they have been. I had to ask CAMHS to write to our GP, to let her know what was happening with our son. She had had not a thing from them. Which is shocking!

    I totally agree. My son is 12, why does he need to sign a consent form, I seriously despair. Fortunately he is happy to sign it, he wants help, but what if he wasn’t happy? That means they won’t do it?! The world has gone mad.

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