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Lack of tact and Aspergers

(33 Posts)
peppajay Mon 20-May-13 17:57:56

My son is being referred for tests for aspergers he shows several of the traits and his speech therapist has referred him, due to his need for strict routine and little things she has noticed in her sessions with him.

I was called in today over his inability to be tactful. To him a fact is a fact!!! There is a little boy in his class who is overweight and he keeps telling him that he is fat and asking him why. Yesterday we saw him with his mum in the shop buying crisps and a Fanta and my son just shouts out 'no wonder you are so fat' as to him eating crisps and drinking pop is bad for you. Apparently the teacher has spoke to him about what he said today and apparently he didn't say it in a rude or derogatory way just in a state the fact way. He does have a problem with empathy and used to often pinch or hurt children but he has got better but he just doesn't seem to get the tact thing. He says what he wants and doesn't understand that it could upset someone.

Socially he doesn't play with the other kids in his class much as he does do and say unpredictable things.

Is the lack of tact quite a common trait with Aspergers??

thanks in advance. x

PolterGoose Mon 20-May-13 18:54:31

Very very very common grin

Ds's Autism Advisory Teacher made the point that NT children develop an inner voice and the ability to not say every thought out loud as early as 4yo, in her experience it could take until 14yo for a child with ASD to develop the same skills. Ds is 10 in 2 weeks and we are working on the idea that you really don't need to say every thought out loud, but it is really hard for him to do. It might help to approach it from a 'if it's obvious then you don't need to say it' kind of way rather than a 'you might hurt feelings way' because the latter won't work unless he truly understands the importance of how something might feel, certainly my ds would argue that if someone said something that was true about him then it wouldn't bother him, which is true, so it makes it hard for him to understand how that might feel for someone else.

So whilst for you and teachers and greater society he needs to keep some thoughts to himself for politeness sake, you just use whatever argument convinces him logically that he doesn't need to say such things out loud.

GoblinGranny Mon 20-May-13 19:16:59

It's not just a lack of tact, it is an inability to understand or recognise why you should say something other than what is.
Oh yes, my Aspie has had many an encounter that went pear-shaped. grin
He has a veneer of civility now, he often doesn't get why you do or don't do say something but he knows what's expected. He asks me why later.
Took years.
School really should be familiar with this, the NAS can give some pointers if you need ammo, and the SENCO ought to be involved

buildingmycorestrength Mon 20-May-13 19:55:20

My son isn't particularly severely affected by ASD, but I have just drummed into him that you don't say certain things or there are consequences. 'Hurting peoples' feelings' is a huge no-no in our house, even if he doesn't really understand why very well. Obviously this won't work for everyone!

Christmas presents, dear Lord. I was dreading the in-laws coming for Christmas because of the inability to appear grateful. So I made up a game, inn which we all had to pretend to give each other awful presents and practice doing a big cheesy smile and a 'thank you so much, I love it!' response. I would say, in my silliest, soppiest voice, 'For you, my darling, darling son, a giant bucket of poo!' and he'd have to try to get it right grin. Took a lot of tension out of the situation. We still play it.

I said they are always allowed to tell me later if they don't really like it, but that they must be polite about it.

I think this worked for us partly because he 'got' that it was silly and yet serious, that Mummy would be upset if he was not polite about the presents.

A giant bucket of poo! grin OMG, my life in one sentence.

SomethingsUp Mon 20-May-13 20:08:58

I have Aspergers I am constantly saying things that seem perfectly fine to me that people get offended by, so yes it really is a common trait. You get used to telling people you will probably do it, that you are honest completely and that you will try not to upset anyone, but if you do that they should mention it and then I can learn a little bit more about what isn't okay to say to people.

I'm in my thirties now and I mostly manage to not completely alienate myself and hold reasonable conversations with strangers without making them cry.

DS's lack of tact is legendary but I explain it as his complete honesty. A compliment from him is really earned. grin

CouthyMow Tue 21-May-13 00:59:45

Dear God, Polter - you have described my DS1 down to a tee - "If someone said something truthful about me, why would I be bothered? If it's the truth, then it's the truth, isn't it"

Aaarrrgghhhhh. He's 11yo, and has got some things but not others...he will no longer say that someone is fat (in their earshot...), but if someone is crying like a baby, he still says...that they are crying like a baby.

He also argues that as it's a simile, he is not saying that that person is a baby, as that would be untrue, but that they are acting like a baby, which is true. As he sees it, it's NOT calling them a baby, but telling them that their actions are babyish...

DD has improved a lot over the last year - tbh, as Polter said, it's since she turned around 14yo. It only took 12 years to sink in then...shock

CouthyMow Tue 21-May-13 01:01:01

In banking on only having another 3 years of it from DS1...hmm

crazeelaydee Tue 21-May-13 11:47:19

<slowly nods head> yesss, my Ds AS is very much the same it's becoming more and more frequent...or rather more noticeable because as mentioned above other Dc learn to use their inner voices, sadly he also tends to become louder at times like this blush. I have quiet chats with him afterwards and you can see him mulling it over in his mind smile.....then following a little debate about what was said he will realise it was tactless, but it still happens again so I am working on this smile. I don't get embarrassed any more TBH I just find myself automatically apologising on my Ds's behalf.

There have been many times that the pondering why questions come out of the blue when he has been to school and straight away I can imagine that he has been tactless in a situation and no doubt disciplined for it sad.

I must say that I have read somewhere that at a certain age a Dc with AS may just 'click' hmm about these things when the mind catches up with NT Dc?? hmm confused

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 11:53:44

Mine's 18, he understood about not making random comments or asking questions of people when he was around 12.
Took him a lot longer to think about his responses to questions people had asked him, that was around 15.
If he's not sure and I'm in earshot, he looks at me to see what to do (NV signals are our speciality, it's OK, no, don't talk, keep going all is well, don't panic, I;m on my way...grin) If I'm not there, he'll smile and not talk, or change the subject if he can.

buildingmycorestrength Tue 21-May-13 12:18:08

Goblin tell me more about your signals!

And I'm trying to drum into my son 'If in doubt, say x.' but haven't quite found a solution.

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 12:23:57

The signals?
They work up to a point, if he's focused and not stressed, just reminders really.
they started off as much bigger movements and I used them at home consistently, then over the years they have refined until they are quite subtle.
He's done a lot of socialising at college, and he's got some good mates that tend to explain rather than strop. Some of his best RL and online friendships are with other nationalities who ask questions about UK culture, and don't find it odd when he crosses a line. They don't ignore it, they explain.smile

buildingmycorestrength Tue 21-May-13 12:38:44

Ah! And what do you actually do? Thumbs up/down?

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 12:48:10

Flat horizontal hand at neck height, dropped down 6" = cool it, you are heading into a meltdown, disengage.
Right hand as if you are turning a knob down= turn down the volume
Forefinger extended vertically, wait, it's not your turn to speak yet.
That Jack Sparrow hand gesture where he ripples his fingers in the moonlight= you're stimming
Pushing sleeves up, whether I have any or not=offer to help
Raised eyebrows= what did you forget? Usually thank you, excuse me etc
Eye catch and a forefinger beckon=come here ASAP there's something important happening.
there are others...
grin

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 12:54:34

Now I come to think of it, one of the most useful things that has enabled him is that we've always been open about the DX, he's not ashamed to be an Aspie and to find things confusing sometimes, in the same way he'll mention it if he's doing something others find tricky.
He'll say 'Why is that funny' and listen to the answer, or ask for clarification, 'my brain's not wired to think like that'
For example, if you lose something, he's fantastic at scanning and spotting the difference. His teacher lost an earring in a crowded art room, he found it and when she said thank you, he shrugged and said 'Aspie eyes' with a grin.

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 12:59:31

There are positive signals too, forgot about them. grin

SomethingsUp Tue 21-May-13 13:08:18

Once you get aware of what you can do that might make other's uncomfortable, you do learn ways of self checking, but also with friends you get them to check for you and give you reminders too. So generally it becomes a lot easier to manage when you get older.

Although when you do drop a clanger, people tend to be much more shocked.

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 13:11:00

DS relies on his mates a lot more now. He's also an art student, so he can get away with being eccentric as part of the act. Except it isn't an act for him.smile

buildingmycorestrength Tue 21-May-13 14:28:03

Am tearing up at this incredibly practical advice that could be sooooo transformative for us. Thank you, Goblin. thanks You are honking for me and I appreciate it!

Positive signals also welcome, and if you got it from a book just point me in the right direction.

Sorry if this is hijacking. But I suspect it isn't. smile

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 14:32:49

Nah, we made it up as we went along. grin
They have to fit the individual.
It's fascinating how Pavlovian his response is to one of my signals though.
He used to be a runner, and sometimes I could keep up and sometimes not.
I used to let him loose on the South Downs, and when I wanted him back, I'd whistle and open my arms wide, then slowly start to close them. He'd race to get back before the hug closed, and try and knock me over.
Recall to a signal.
If I do it now, he says he finds it almost impossible to resist, Although now he picks me up and swings me instead of knocking me over. But he can't ignore it. smile

buildingmycorestrength Tue 21-May-13 14:38:14

You are a smart lady. I suspect more to tell us, there is. <crap Yoda impersonation>.

I use high fives a LOT, as verbal praise seems to be not so meaningful.

Also sweets.

And money.

blush

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 14:43:57

I use money, especially when we are drawing the line between acceptable behaviour and Aspie traits.

Taking your uniform off when you come through the door and wearing your pjs, Aspie sensory issues.

Bundling up your smelly socks and throwing them at your sister to make her squark...PITA brother and a 20p fine. grin

You reward and sanction with what is meaningful to them.
I could ban him from football for a month and he'd be delighted. If I want to punish him, I'd have to take away something he valued.
Money is a clear and understandable reward. And useful for fines!

GoblinGranny Tue 21-May-13 14:46:33

Oh, and I'm not smarter than the average bear, I've just been doing this a bit longer than many.

harrietspy Tue 21-May-13 15:02:07

O wow. This thread is amazing. I need to write this all down... Goblin, you are awesome.

My ds2 was dx in Feb. He's 7.

He doesn't tend to be too tactless out in the world - he's more likely to knock someone over by barrelling into them on the pavement rather than comment on their size - but he is very direct in other ways. I saw the ad for Race for Life on tv the other day and out of nowhere was hit with a wave of grief about my dad. DS2 said, 'I don't know why you're crying about him. He died three years ago'. He also fetches the photo of dad at my mum's and says, 'You really miss this man, don't you.' He also says he wishes my dad weren't dead 'because he was very funny' so he's not being callous. Just frank.

We have a lot of work to do on the presents. He usually says, 'I would have liked this to be Lego instead.'

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