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To wonder if this hurdle with my son and his dad not switching on are a symptom of the same thing?

(90 Posts)
TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 09:34:45

This is an example of a conversation I had with my 6.4 year old son last night.
Me-"DS, your bath is ready. go up stairs, get undressed. Pants and socks in the wash. Uniform over the stair gate. Ok, I will go through it again. Uniform off, pants and socks in the wash, uniform on stair gate. Now, what is it I need you to do?
DS- "erm, take my uniform off.. Erm... Errr
Me - Ok, uniform off. Pants, socks in wash. Uniform on stair gate.
DS - repeats it back and goes upstairs.

I leave it 5-6 mins, and shout up are you in the bath? He says no. I go up and hes sat on his bed, fully clothed playing. I asked why he wasnt undressed. He said he didnt know what I meant. I asked what he didnt understand about taking his uniform off and putting his pants and socks im the wash? He said he thought I meant tomorrow.

He was looking at me worried, (I think he was worried I was going to get cross) wide- eyed and genuinely confused.

We have these conversations day in day out.

Even simple 3 word tasks get the same results. I switch off the tv, make sure I speak slowly and clearly, and he is looking at me and repeats it back.

This is a child that gets on well at school, has absolutely no SN, and no sing of them. I know for a fact this is not the cause.

Now his dad hmm. I will hear my youngest son ask him a question up to 10 times in a row and his dad simply doesnt switch on and hear it. He locks onto something, the TV, a book or his phone he literally cannot unswitch and hear his son. Ive had to tell DS1 to stand in front of the tv to get his attention. His dad is not hard of hearing and he appologises to him for not noticing. He can be a pillock but hes not ignorant and would never deliberately ignore his son.

Its causing arguments now though because I will be upstairs getting showered and dressed and I can hear 2yo ds2 saying mummy over and over again, but his dad not answering him. No one answering him. When I confront his dad about it, he says he only just started asking for me 1 second ago. Except I was stood at the top of the stairs listening for ages waiting for him to be answered, his dad just thinks Im using it as an excuse to nag him and genuinely believes he 'only just started asking for you.' Asking for mummy 12 times in a row is not just a second.

He literally cannot switch on his brain to register his son talking. He'll be sat on his lap and say "Daddy look." Over and over again and he doesnt notice,

It drives me nuts.

Wise worse, PLEASE.

ArtemisiaGentileschisThumb Wed 08-May-13 10:49:41

Did I name change and post this?! Sounds exactly like my DH and DS. We even had the educational psychologist come to nursery because I was worried about how vague he can be (only 4 but struggles with simpler instructions than your DS op). The psychologist said that there were some issues with following instructions but its not big enough to be aspergers, the nursery have set learning targets for him to help him understand instructions and at home we are doing the same thing as you, turning off TV, getting him to look at me and repeat etc. repetition seems to be the key for us and routine and massive praise. Once instructions sink in he can do the same thing the next day (ie take off his pyjama trousers off and put his nappy in the bin) with minimal fuss.
Re DH I fear he's a lost cause and I have no idea what to do with him, like your DH he isn't ignoring DS on purpose, it just doesn't register if he's doing something else. It feels like there is a link though so I totally blame DH for DS's head being in the clouds grin

Branleuse Wed 08-May-13 10:51:10

i think that was too long a list for a 6 year old boy tbh.

Id start by lessening it to two stages, and gradually increasing it.

Like get undressed and then bring your washing to me

im not very good with long lists of instructions (dyspraxic) and both my ds' have ASD and until he was 10 i was still using a visual routine reminder on the door about the morning routine to stop him getting flustered.

Its very possible that if your dh doesnt process long to-do lists very well, then your ds will be similar, but 6 is quite young to do it anyway maybe?

Primrose123 Wed 08-May-13 10:52:03

I think young children just struggle to concentrate sometimes. (Don't know what the excuse is for your DH though!)

When mine were little, I would ask them to tidy their rooms, but it never got done because they said they didn't know what to do. I used to write them a little list like this:-

1. Pick up any clean clothes and put on bed.
2. Pick up any dirty clothes and put in washing basket.
3. Pick up any books and put in a pile by the bookcase, and we will put them away together.
4. Put any lego in the lego box.

It made a huge difference. They would cross each one off the list and the room would look much better.

Could you do this? How is his reading? He could even have a little treat if it is all done well. Perhaps you could tell him you'll be coming up the stairs in ten minutes with a chocolate biscuit, but only if the list is done!

schobe Wed 08-May-13 10:53:19

Yes my DD and my DH do this. I have a real thing about people being heard and acknowledged, so I get very worked up about this.

I am fully prepared to make some allowances and try to facilitate things as much as possible. But with both of them I also see that it is a choice and a strategy to do this in order to avoid annoying conversations and tasks or, in DH's case, to admit he doesn't know the answer to something. Also I KNOW the behaviour not a choice he makes at work for example.

I also see that it is learned behaviour to an extent for DH from his dad and brothers in dealing with his Dmum. I don't want it modelled for DD - and DS too if he ever becomes verbal (SN).

At the end of the day it is a hugely important social skill to listen and acknowledge and also to seek help proactively if you missed an instruction. It is also important to me as a person to be acknowledged when I speak, it feels like a sign of respect to me. So we have many, many wrangles about this and I try to be very consistent with DD and not let things go, or she will learn that she can get out of things this way.

It's hard though. Agree that visual timetables can be very useful for all DC.

mum2bubble Wed 08-May-13 10:58:14

'zoning out' like that can be a symptom of Attention Deficit Disorder. If so, a different approach may be needed for otherwise simple instructions - no concrete advice sorry. Still trying to work out a way to focus my DD (and me).

Exhaustipated Wed 08-May-13 11:09:10

He is ignoring him though isn't he?confused

I see that he has selective hearing but that isn't a medical condition is it (genuinely please correct me if I'm wrong)?

Some part of him is hearing DS and choosing not to respond. Unless he actually is partially deaf or has some degree of hearing loss.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 08-May-13 11:10:36

A lot of the time I have to do the "eyes on me!" thing, and even then, when I ask ds to tell me what I just said, he looks blank, and says "I can't remember".
I found writing things down helps though, since he loves lists.
So, I write him lists for lots of tasks, and with regular routines, he will know that number 4, for example, is brush his teeth.
So, ds hates being given verbal instructions, but loves ticking off a list.
Having said that I do think it's selective. If I whisper under my breath "should we watch Spiderman.." he would hear that from the next room and come running.

Jux Wed 08-May-13 11:12:30

Does your dh have a very complicated job which he thinks about a lot? Is he an inventor or is he trying to discover the chemical composition of an unknown substance or something, so that it is constantly there taking up a lot of space in his brain? That sort of deep concentration will make it hard for anyone to pull the,selves back into the real world.

Is he just very verymtired from brainwork in his job, and vegges out when he gets home?

Whatever it is, he needs to retune so that key things like 'Mummy' 'Daddy' etc alert him. If he's not awar he's doing it then you could record him and play it back to him.

IfNotNowThenWhen Wed 08-May-13 11:13:58

Or just maybe get a water pistol, and instruct the kids to use it when they want his attention.

Midlifecrisisarefun Wed 08-May-13 11:21:21

Never mind DC/DH's doing this, I have the same problem! grin
DH has just asked me something and I was too busy reading this!! I 'heard' but didn't register! I drive him nuts!
I have always been like it!
I also struggle with multiple instructions and have to write them down.

Pokeroot Wed 08-May-13 11:29:39

I do this too, but then I have an auditory processing disorder which means I can be told something and even repeat it back with no idea what was said.

TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 12:39:35

That was a bit offensive Jux. Not really sure there was much need for your firsy paragraph?

For those who asked, no it isnt selective. I could give him instructions about nos favorite toy and it would still baffle him. I does baffle him. It happens in all areas.

I was thinking, surely if he had aspergers then school would flag it up?

Theres other areas we are grately struggling in, although I dont know if it is linked or not...

He tantrums particularly at bed time, like he did when he was 3. He physically struggled to brush his teeth, or obey the only rule to stand in front of the mirror.

He melts down at bed time at leasy once a week refusing to wash or be washed, refusing to do his teeth, to go to bed etc etc etc.

I mean, I dont think this is a symptom of aspergers, but I wonder if the difficulty in other areas is linked. Just thought id put it out there really as night times can be very painful.

TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 12:49:09

Im just reading more about aspergers and something just mase my heart sink.

Ds hates change, he finds it painfully stressful, he will tantrum for days on end before 'the change' occurs. When pregnant I couldnt mention the baby coming, when starting school I had to ask all my family and friends not to ask DS about it, when moving house I couldnt tell him until the day before etc etc.

My heart isnt sinking at the thought of him possibly having Aspergers, but at the thought of having possibly gone through all this thinking he was just being a pain in the butt.....

schobe Wed 08-May-13 13:03:55

That's ok, better to find out now than later still.

Start with school and GP if you want to try to get him on the road to being assessed. Look at it as getting him and you some support in dealing with these types of issues. Might be autism-related, might not be. But either way you are being proactive and leaving no stone unturned to make sure he gets whatever support he may need.

My DS has severe autism - perhaps no coincidence that I struggle with these issues with my DD who is not officially on the spectrum.

schobe Wed 08-May-13 13:05:45

And no, school won't necessarily flag it up if he is 'getting by' in general there.

Without wishing to doom-monger, do be prepared to be assertive about wanting to investigate these issues. Some (not all) schools/doctors will prefer to send you away and not act.

schobe Wed 08-May-13 13:06:48

PS I honestly think Jux was being genuine, not sarcastic in her 1st para smile

TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 13:08:55

Thanks Schobe, we have an amazing, paediatric GP who I will try and see this week.

schobe Wed 08-May-13 13:13:38

Ooh, excellent start.

peachypips Wed 08-May-13 13:16:13

Don't be too quick to label everything though- from reading this thread he could have at least five different conditions! My DH and DSs are exactly the same. I sometimes feel like my kids say everything to DH through me. They speak to him, he doesn't respond, I shout through from the other room to DH telling him that the kids are talking to him! This happens many times daily.
DS1 needs to be told a hundred times to do everything- this is normal kid behaviour.
Weirdly I have noticed FiL does it to MiL too. Def learnt behaviour.
Be careful of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy with the diagnosis thing...

schobe Wed 08-May-13 13:19:34

No I agree, but she has added more behaviours in subsequent posts. Worth checking out at least.

MoominsYonisAreScary Wed 08-May-13 13:26:53

Ds2 is the same, my sister is a LD nurse and thinks he's on the spectrum. I better go read up on it.

Sorry op that was no help at all was it!

diddl Wed 08-May-13 13:32:48

I think the instructions in the OP were too much.

My son would have struggled with that & probably chosen to do none of it rather that do part of it wrong.

Daughter would have done what she wanted thought was right.

I do find the thinking that you meant tomorrow an unusual response, though.

Did he mean it or was it an excuse?

PlasticLentilWeaver Wed 08-May-13 14:07:39

I am sure there is no 'label' in my situation, just a dreamer and lack of focus. Ds1 is 7.7, so a bit older than OP's, and really should be able to concentrate for long enough to get undressed and out his pyjamas on without constant reminders!

He doesn't have concentration problems at school, only at home. And I think DH just finds it really easy to tune out their noise, so doesn't twig when it is actually directed at him rather than just being noise!

peachypips Wed 08-May-13 14:09:32

That's exactly my situation plastic !

StillSeekingSpike Wed 08-May-13 14:16:07

Actually I found that list of instructions confusing as well! Although my mother did take me to get my hearing tested when I was 4, as I never listened to her blush.
All my school reports mentioned my daydreaming- and I'm still a bit like that now. I wonder if your son is actually quite introverted- hence the not liking change, or over demonstrative children? - and these 'demands' just don't penetrate his own little world?

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