Changing a bed should be a simple task that takes minutes to do each week. This week it took over 12 hours to do our daughter’s bed and she was still not happy.
As well as having Aspergers and challenging behaviour, our daughter has Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), which can cause real problems when we ask her to do something that she does not want to do. On her bed she has an assortment of cushions and soft toys positioned in a certain way so that when I change the bed a huge tantrum generally follows. To placate the situation I've tried taking photos on my phone of the cushions and soft toys so I can put them back in the right place. However, as soon as she walks into her room she will know if one of them is a centimetre out of place. I have suggested that she changes her bed to ensure it is done to her specification but this has been met with a lot of opposition – part of her ODD means that she digs her heels in a whole lot more forcefully than most children would.
This week I decided to remove the bedding and told our daughter that she needed to put on a new sheet, pillow case and quilt cover. This was met with a session of screaming which continued on and off during the day whenever she set foot in her bedroom and realised I wasn't going to do it. She refused to go to bed but by 11pm gave in and put the sheet and pillowcase on with me giving verbal instructions on how to do it. I then helped her to put on her quilt cover. Finally I thought we had made a breakthrough but she still wouldn't sleep in the bed without her toys and cushions being in the right place and wanted me to do them. As this is what generally causes the biggest upset about changing her bed, I told her to put them back on her bed or sleep in the bed as it was that night. This was met with stamping of the feet like a toddler in a rage. She stormed into our bedroom took off our quilt, placed it on the floor in our doorway and spent the next few hours asleep there. We didn’t react to this in anyway and when she woke up in the early hours, she put everything back on her bed and went to sleep there.
Gradually it may sink in that she has to take responsibility for tasks and they can take minutes to do if she does them without putting up a fight. The ODD means it is hard for her to accept things easily, but in time she should understand that she will have more time for the fun things in life, if she doesn’t use all her energy to oppose things.
As parents of an intelligent girl, we sometimes forget that she needs more explanation than others to do tasks due to her Aspergers. If it was our youngest son, we would give him visual aids to show him what to do, but at 10 years old, our daughter feels she is too old for this. Sometimes a simple verbal instruction is all she needs, once she has decided to stop opposing us!