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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ds is 5 1/2 and has a few behaviors that drive me nuts and/or concern me. Am I expecting too much?<br><br>
1) His complete and utter inability to 'make amends' (apologize/hug/say "it was an accident"/"I won't do it again) after he's hurt someone - deliberately or accidentally. We model this constantly. He has never in his life said "I"m sorry." I'm OK with that in principal, as I'd rather have a sincere hug than an insincere 'sorry'. But if he hurts someone, he just stands there and looks at them while they cry. We ask him to make amends somehow (verbally or physically), and 9 times out of 10 he refuses. We've talked till we're blue in the face about how when you refuse to help someone feel better, it makes them feel bad, and like you meant for them to get hurt. YET, if someone accidently hurts him, he's in their face, demanding a hug. So, he understands the concept. He's TACKLED his sister to get her to give him a hug after she accidently tripped over him and fell on him. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">:<br><br>
2) Inability to take anyone else's point of view. Dh and I have been sick this week (ds was sick last week). I had to go to bed yesterday (am actually on my way back to bed after I finish here -- apparently I can be up for about 30 min at a time!). Ds was incensed because my going to bed interfered with him playing a game he wanted to play. (Similar response when dh had to go to bed a few days ago.) No sympathy for the fact that we had a temperature of a 102.<br><br>
3) Refusal (inability?) to discuss emotions or even identify them in pictures. If we're reading a story and something happens, I'll often ask the kids "hmm... how do you think they felt." The only answer I ever get from ds is "I dunno." When we're looking at pictures of characters, he can't identify the emotions. This didn't really strike me until dd (now 2 1/2) began pointing to characters and saying things like "Why he scared?" "Why he's angry?" when she was about 2. I model this a lot too, mostly to give ds some vocab and partly because dd is fascinated by emotions.<br><br>
4) Inabilty to talk about things that are bothering him. He's been having nightmares regularly for several weeks, and cannot tell us what they are about or if anything is bothering him. I've tried to draw him out by reading books, by telling stories of things that bothered me as a child, etc. Direct questioning has always been useless.<br><br>
I feel, quite honestly, like I'm raising a Norwegian bachelor farmer. When he was little (2-3), he wouldn't say "I love you." He'd say "I really, really like you." He is an introvert, and I know that. But isn't this just a bit too introverted?<br><br>
I would just think that his ability to empathize and realize the impact of his actions would be a bit better developed by now. I shudder to think what any future partner is going to do with this boy! He's going to be the one to buy the romantic jumper cables for Valentine's Day and wonder where he went wrong.
 

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I think introvert/extrovert is a completely different thing from ability/inability to experience empathy.<br>
I have no clue about appropriate development in a child his age. Have you ever mentioned your concern to somebody trained to evaluate kids? If he had a very mild form of autism or something it probably would be best to address it early. (Again please don't misread my answer as me trying to diagnose anything- I am so not qualified to do that. It's just an example)
 

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Mine is not that old yet -- but even at 15 month DS will pat me when i am upset.... and he rushes to hug my leg when he tell him NO about something.<br><br>
If it was ME, I thik I would talk to someone who is in teh know about dev and "emotional connected".<br><br>
Really the inablity to name emotions -- that baby looks happy / sad or something......make me question ... more than a refusal to "look at someone else point of view" or maybe the two of them together.<br><br>
Sorry I don't know, but I think you MIGHT want to ask somone.<br><br>
Maybe they'll say " he is just a shy boy" butttttttt at least you'd feel better for knowing and not having to wonder???<br><br>
A
 

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Honestly? He sounds very similar to my son, who was recently diagnosed with Asperger's. A lot of what we do is to practice identifying emotions in pictures and to talk about how people feel and why.
 

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<a href="http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/7/cu13.html" target="_blank">http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/7/cu13.html</a><br>
In the middle of that article is information pertaining to children and empathy, how it develops and how it can be hindered.<br>
Outside of normal development, then I would look at Asperger's or other issues.
 

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<a href="http://www.nurturingparenting.com/research_validation/developing_empathy_in_families.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.nurturingparenting.com/re...n_families.pdf</a><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">After one year, infants become more aware that they are distinct from others, and try to soothe another crying infant.</td>
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Around two years of age, children begin to realize that someone else’s feelings differ from their own and become more sensitive<br>
to cues revealing what another child feels.</td>
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HTH.
 

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I agree with getting him evaluated. The ability to name emotions in pictures, is a key developmental marker. I know when they do developmental tests, that is something they look for.
 

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My ds is just a little younger than yours. I can totally see mine choosing not to say "sorry". And I understand many boys don't like talking directly about their feelings. But not being able to identify basic emotions based on people's facial expressions would concern me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, in my irritation, I probably overstated his inability. He can recognize happy, sad, angry, on people's faces. Part of it too is that dd seems to be remarkably precocious in her ability to deal with emotions.<br><br>
Aspberger's has run through my mind, but he doesn't meet enough of criteria. He has good relationships with other kids, shares info eagerly with them and with us, and seems to be on track socially. He does great imaginative play, negotiates well with peers, etc. I know that he's got 'theory of the mind' (understands that other's thoughts are different from his) because of conversations we've had, and things he's said. He does have a few of the characteristics (sensory issues, tends to focus on one topic), but the sensory stuff is improving wiht OT, and he's actually pretty flexible. It's like we're within shouting distance of Asberger's but he hasn't got it.<br><br>
What I don't know is how to help him develop these skills better. He's far too skilled socially to benefit from a social group with Asperger's kids, for example.<br><br>
I'll talk to his OT tomorrow. He's in OT for the sensory processing stuff, and she sees a lot of kids with autism and aspbergers. If anyone is in a position to tell me whether more evaluationn is warranted, she'd be it.
 

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My dd is also 5. She is able to do all of those things. I agree that I'd have him evaluted, just to be sure there's nothing else going on. #3 especially concerns me. 1, 2, and 4 could just be personality, but in the larger scope, I do think it's something to take a deeper look at. Much love to you, mama.
 

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Hehe, we posted at the same time.<br><br>
After your second post, it's not quite as concerning. I'd definitely talk to his OT about it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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It could be related to his sensory integration....<br>
my ds, who was so insanely over-sensitive of his own needs, was totally clueless when it came to empathy.<br><br>
He's 11 now.<br>
He gets the big concept of it...but still misses when someone is not VERY clear on their emotions. He can't take a hint (I tend to grumble before I roar....he misses the grumbles completely)<br><br>
I totally feel bad for any girlfriends he has in the future. He is going to be one of those DH's we read about on here that need sticky notes for everything--from birthdays to holidays, from the regular Sunday dinner with family to the once a year BBQ...he'll totally miss all of them without someone to nudge him.<br><br>
Oh yeah, but if he is watching a movie or reading a book where someone dies? He is totally broken up over it.<br>
He won't reread LOTR because he was heartbroken at the end that everyone split up and went their way. He wanted them to stay together.<br><br>
the OT we went to really only focused on the physical side of SID, but there is so much other stuff behind that....I know some OTs are more sensitive to that, so you might want to check into it at some point.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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There is a huge continuum between mild sensory integration to severe autsim. Sounds like he may possibly be on the very mild side of aspergers and that the SI stuff is affecting his relationship to others. I would also get him evaluated. It sounds to me very workable and that a good social skills group with a child psychologist/therapist could help a lot.
 

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Lynn, your son sounds very similar to my 6.5 year old son. And, while I have often wondered about Asperger's, too, he functions so well in school these days that having him further evaluated would not serve much of a purpose. He was slow to develop friendships but ultimately did so without support. He still ddoesn't have particular children he considers his friends, but he likes playing with everyone, and he really plays. My son is also highly sensitive, I sometimes think of him as selfish (as terrible as that sounds for a mom to say <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> ) but most often I just think he's a little different. My daughter (nearly three years old) is extremely emotionally connected like yours, and it wasn't until she came along that I even began to question ds' development. I think my own two kids are on the opposite side of the social spectrum for typically devloping children. Or, ds has mild Asperger's, but I'm not sure.
 

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"Theory of mind" (that autistic/Aspergic people lack it) is a myth. I'm not saying he is or he isn't, but I wouldn't rule it out based on "theory of mind."
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Brigianna</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7285280"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">"Theory of mind" (that autistic/Aspergic people lack it) is a myth. I'm not saying he is or he isn't, but I wouldn't rule it out based on "theory of mind."</div>
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My understanding is that theory of mind is developmentally delayed in individuals on the autism/asperber's spectrum. Could you explain more?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>teachma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7283868"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Lynn, your son sounds very similar to my 6.5 year old son. And, while I have often wondered about Asperger's, too, he functions so well in school these days that having him further evaluated would not serve much of a purpose.</div>
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thanks, it's nice to know he's not the only one like this out there, and that I'm not the only one for whom the thought 'selfish' runs through my mind. It sounds like we're in very similar positions -- what purpose does it serve to test him more? He won't qualify for services, at least not where we live because he functions very well in school. He has friends, including a best friend (it's going to be a sad day at the end of the school year when those two boys have to leave our daycare Kindergarten program and go off into separate schools). While his social skills aren't stellar, they're also not delayed -- at least in the realm of Kindergarten boys.<br><br>
I also hesitate for further assessment because I went to a talk sponsored by our OT about social skills development and the therapist there talked about the skills they work on in social skills groups. Ds has every single one of them already, and has had for at least a year. So, I'm not sure what a social skills group could do for him that kindergarten play dates can't.<br><br>
I also quizzed him this evening on basic emotions (I've got some 'story starter' cards with pictures of children displaying different emotions). And while he wouldn't name them, when I named them, he would identify each of them accurately (I just did happy, sad, anger, surprise and thoughtful.) So he CAN IDENTIFY different emotions, he just won't NAME them. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: But then again, performing on command is always hard for him.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Unreal</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7283278"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It could be related to his sensory integration....<br>
my ds, who was so insanely over-sensitive of his own needs, was totally clueless when it came to empathy.</div>
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This thought has gone through my mind more than once. He is sooo sensitive to his own needs, and has such a small window for self-regulation, that other's needs are often (not always, but often) secondary.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>teachma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7283868"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My daughter (nearly three years old) is extremely emotionally connected like yours, and it wasn't until she came along that I even began to question ds' development. I think my own two kids are on the opposite side of the social spectrum for typically devloping children. Or, ds has mild Asperger's, but I'm not sure.</div>
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This is exactly what has made me question ds's development in this area. Dd is sooo connected. I joke with dh that she got all the family's social worker genes (dh's parents were both social workers.) She began patting our backs at something like 8 months. When she's at daycare and someone is unhappy, she sets about to solve the problem -- whether it be by herself or getting a teacher. (Actually, she's a frighteningly competent child, but that's another post.)<br><br>
We'll see... I'm reading about emotional development now in my spare time nad hopefully that will help me understand him more.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>LynnS6</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7285389"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My understanding is that theory of mind is developmentally delayed in individuals on the autism/asperber's spectrum. Could you explain more?</div>
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It is for some, but not all. Austistic people have a harder time inferring others' thoughts from social cues, but this doesn't necessarily mean an inability to understand that other people do have different thoughts.<br><br>
Whether he is autistic/Aspergic or not, though, I don't think you have cause for concern. Inability to take others' points of view is typical at that age, and I think if you consistantly try to teach him appropriate behavior, he'll probably pick it up eventually. Aside from that... not everyone is the romantic type. That's okay. The world needs Norwegian bachelor farmers.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>LynnS6</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7283134"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">What I don't know is how to help him develop these skills better.</div>
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Frrom the same link I provided in a pp.<br><a href="http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/7/cu13.html" target="_blank">http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/7/cu13.html</a><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">MOTHERS whose behavior toward their preschool children is RESPONSIVE, NONPUNITIVE, AND NONAUTHORITARIAN have children who have higher levels of affective and cognitive empathy and prosocial behavior</td>
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Which is pretty much GD and AP, right there.<br><br>
From the other end, what hinders or is counterproductive...<br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">INCONSISTENT CARE (e.g., inconsistency in parents' reactions to children's emotional needs) and PARENTAL REJECTION/WITHDRAWAL in times of children's emotional needs are both associated with low levels of empathy on the parts of the children</td>
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Which probably happens a little bit with every child when a new child enters the home.<br>
Maybe try and be more vocal about how baby is feeling and how he is feeling?<br>
For example, if she gets a boo-boo, include him in making it better or helping soothe her. Or if something makes her laugh, include him in helping get her to laugh.<br><br>
Not saying that this is what you do, but just wanted to point out another thing that can hinder the healthy development of empathy.<br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">The provision of EXTRINSIC REWARDS OR "BRIBES" to improve children's behavior is counterproductive. As with other research on extrinsic rewards, researchers have found that providing payoffs for prosocial behavior focuses attention on the reward rather than the reason for it and that the desired behaviors tend to lessen or disappear when the reward is withdrawn (Kohn 1991).</td>
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There is a lot more in the link about how to help a child learn empathy in a healthy, loving way.<br>
HTH.
 

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Just to throw out a slightly different idea, if he's able to do these things but not willing, then is it possible there's some way in which his and/or others' emotions feel threatening or overwhelming to him?<br><br>
I know that as a child I had a very hard time apologizing and also a very hard time talking about my feelings. I am an introvert but also (as my therapist MIL says) a very "related" person and this had nothing to do with being unable to empathise. I STILL have an incredibly hard time talking about emotions and often can only release my feelings through other outlets, like music. For me, I think it's due to a combination of my personality and my family history.<br><br>
ETA I realise that you specifically said he is unable empathise, so to add to my suggestion, is his anger at you when you were sick necessarily an inability to empathise? It can be very hard for children to accept that their parents are vulnerable, especially kids who need a lot of parental support and "safety".<br><br>
I'm just spinning this idea out because though as a child my reactions were quite different from his (I'd be much more likely to run and hide than shout or stand there), I know I had difficulty with many of the things you mentioned and I am neither on the asperger's/autism spectrum nor a jumper-cable purchaser, by a long shot.
 
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