I was wondering if anyone has experience with ASD children with specific phobias so bad that they induce panic attacks and vomiting.
My boyfriend's five-year-old has always been avoidant of dogs. I have had my dog since she was a puppy, long before my bf and I started dating, so rehoming her was never an option. We have since moved in together, and we knew that introducing his child to my dog would be a slow and challenging process.
For the first few months, although the child was visibly anxious when she would be in the same room, he would tolerate the dog so long as she did not enter his personal space (otherwise he would begin crying and trying to hide or run away).
However, he has recently regressed and now starts having violent panic attacks when the dog is in the same room (despite being fully across the room or even separated indoors/outdoors). He begins shivering, hyperventilating, and now projectile vomits if he sees the dog for more than a few minutes at a time.
We've read studies that indicate graded exposure is the best approach, but we don't want him to pull an Exorcist every time he sees the dog. Moreover, the child experiences a feeding issue and his only source of nutrition is supplement drinks and formula. We do not want him vomiting what little nutrition he does receive.
Does anyone have suggestions for how to decrease fear response and assist with overcoming specific phobias in an unharmful way?
Maybe his brain/body just can’t accept the situation on its own. He might need intervention from a doctor (ie.. medicine) to help with anxiety.