Life skills/Executive functioning difficulties

Hi, my daughter has severe executive functioning difficulties, in a mix of FASD, with ADHD, ASD, cognitive difficulties etc. I am finding her chaos very difficult to live with. Everyday her bedroom looks as if it's been burgled. This can spread to other rooms in the house. She is just 12 now, and I really want to help her develop some life skills to manage. I regularly get her to help me tidy her room, but she sits there procrastinating, and pretty well doing nothing whilst I tidy up around her. Things like cut nails lying on chair, used sanitary pads lying around the place, scratched furniture, clean and dirty clothes everywhere, including in the drawers, just total chaos. She never shuts drawers or cupboards (anywhere in the house) and things get dropped everywhere. I mostly just get by with managing some kind of order, so that I can feel sane, but she is not really learning. She gets very angry and annoyed when asked to do anything. If I say no telly until she tidies up something - she might on occasion do it properly with lots of prompts and help, but with much anger and resentment.

I have the books 'Smart but Scattered' and 'Late, Lost and Unprepared' which I have dipped into, but have mostly felt overwhelmed by it all. Has anyone had any success with these books? Or other approaches?

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  • I can't offer any ideas but my son 9 sounds very similar. I know it's not funny but when I read "leaves draws and cupboards open" I thought I was the only one with this happening and can't understand that if it was shut when he got there why couldn't he shut it after using it. if I ask him to help he loses it and starts shouting at me and running away (in the house) but it's so frustrating. He is the youngest of 5. I feel for you. X

  • She sounds just like my 11 year old adoptive daughter! After almost 9 weeks school holiday, I'm at the end of my tether. I find that if I explain that if she won't make some effort to keep things tidy, I won't have time to take her to her horse riding lessons, Guides, etc and sometimes this helps but she'll usually respond with abuse (including hitting, kicking etc).

    Have you tried the Magic 1-2-3 system? Might be worth a try but of course the sheer effort of coping sometimes leaves me too exhausted to keep trying to find a solution. I've also been reading Goldie Hawn's book in mindfulness - she runs a programme in the UK called MindUP which is designed to be run in school. It helps all children so you might be able to persuade your school to take this up? It's possible that it could help her be more empathetic toward you.

    Good luck and if you find a magic solution, let me know!

  • I feel your pain! and unfortunately have no solution! I can only offer my sympathy and say my son's bedroom can be just the same.......It feels like an exhausting round of tidying and if you spend time on one room, by the time you enter another that one can be the same. Its the nagging and then the arguing I find hard? They just don't seem to care! its very frustrating. If only our children could understand its "mum's emotional wellbeing" that's been eroded. I don't know whether we will ever get a solution so all I can say is there are many more of us out there feeling the same, and rooting for something to click! My only other offer is that I have a normal 14 year old who's bedroom can sometimes resemble the same......Good luck with getting any child from 10 to 18 to do anything without some kind of argument! My heart goes out to you xx

  • It can be totally exhausting, but "everything has a home and lives in it when not being used". Can you de-clutter (best done when they are not there)? Speaking personally we find our kids "collect" things and acquire junk. One of ours is obsessed with picking up information or sales leaflets and one with stones and gravel (not good in the washing machine).

    Limit to one toy or book at a time; put it away before you get the next one out. Clear up as you go when cooking, etc. Build putting away and tidying up into the daily routines. Try routines of coming home from school etc that involve hanging up your coat, put your shoes away, unpack your bag then have a drink. Don't bother arguing and wasting your breath explaining "why", - very hard, but just bite your lip. Just calmly say, "coat on hook" and "shoes in box" - ignore the tantrums (very hard, but keep calm and focused on one item). Sanitary pads, put a bin in the loo, and insist that they go there - accompany them to the toilet when they change pads and demonstrate yourself they go in the bin. There is no point saying, "tidy up" - too vague so be specific - "socks in that drawer; books on that shelf". End of day when she goes to bed and puts on pyjamas, then get her to pick up all dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket - give her her own laundry basket if necessary. It becomes part of the routine and what you do - and many a time it will be you who is putting the clothes in the basket, not her - but this is making your life easier as you will be, as the old saying goes, "a stitch in time saves nine".

    Some people have a cleaner - the theory being that £20 if you can afford it once a week or twice a month, is worth the money it saves you from being permanently exhausted and living in a tip - but at least with a cleaner you know it is clean under the mess!!!

    There is no simple solution, just lots of little steps every day - and if you build it into your daily routines, it actually becomes less tiring because it is just part of everyday life and you do it without thinking - and suddenly, one day, you realise they have done it without you asking - and it is a major triumph, but of course, the next day, quite often , it is "back to normal" and "mum will do it". ..........

    failing all that, make yourself a coffee and sit and contemplate the mess and just think how boring life would be without her!

  • Many thanks for taking the time to reply. I have done most of what you suggest above, ad nauseum! To be fair, she does now hang up her coat and shoes when she comes in from school. I guess one just has to keep going, but I get tired of constantly having to repeat myself, and I am sure she thinks me a nag! The worst is personal hygiene - it is a problem regarding self care, and sanitary pad disposal. she has a pedal bin, waste paper bin, her own laundry basket - but things will still get thrown everywhere else. And we spend the DLA money on a cleaner, as otherwise I would go nuts!

    I should probably do some more visual charts to remind her too. Thanks again.

  • Sounds like us! Our adopted daughter is just 16 (but emotionally more like 8) and the personal hygiene seems to get worse. We too find used sanitary towels abandoned in her room, under the bed or just put in the washing basket still attached to her underwear for me to find when sorting the washing. We have bins in her bedroom and the bathroom. I feel we live "Groundhog Day" everyday. She also sometimes wears the same towel all day (which then leaks) - we have had this since she was ten and hoped it would get better (it hasnt). I find it frustrating when she has everything to help her (and us to help) around her but still chooses to do this. Some days when I'm really tired (I have renal failure and MS) I wonder if she does this on purpose but I realise she really doesn't seem to understand no matter how much explanation she is given.

    We have a genetics appointment next week so hopefully will get some answers ( already had tests and some problem/deletion has been confirmed). We know there will be no magic cure but a explanation as to why she behaves as she does would help enormously.

  • Wow Lilbill, that sounds very hard when compounded by your health problems. I totally get the 'groundhog day'! It does seem like they do it on purpose, but I guess they have their blind spots. I have been hoping that my daughter will learn too - hopefully she will, but perhaps it takes years. Good luck with your investigations.

  • gosh, this is so encouraging in the weirdest sort of way... my AD, who is nearly 12, is exactly like this, right down to the 'leaves drawers and cupboards hanging open'. I am dreading the start of periods, as we already have enough problems with personal hygiene and bedwetting every night (and refusing to go the loo before bed even though she has a bedwetting problem). Posts like this remind me that I am not alone in the challenges we face!!

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