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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.

livinginwonderland Fri 10-May-13 15:27:26

DP does this, especially if the TV is on or he's on a video game or his phone. You can sit there and go "DP. DP. DP." and nothing, you literally have to shake his arm or go "OI DP" pretty loudly before he realises. 99% of the time he has no idea you've said anything, so I've just learned to shake him or tap him or wave in front of his face to get his attention as opposed to calling his name or asking him something.

I tune out too. The other day I was sat in bed reading and DP came in from the shower, got dressed and spent 5 minutes trying to talk to me and I had no idea he was even back in the room until he sat down next to me and waved in front of my book! blush

steppemum Fri 10-May-13 09:58:09

my dh is just like your, kids can stand next to him going 'daddy, daddy etc for 5 minutes and I have to say in a loud voice 'DH' he startles looks up and sees dc.
He is concentrating on whatever is in front of him, sometimes just thinking hard about it really, and has tuned out the surroundings

Now I tell them to touch him, tap his arm etc, that really helps.

My dcs will also repeat back instructions and then when I go upstairs they are playing, just because by the time they get upstairs, the toy in front of them is so much more important than the instruction from 2 minutes ago. But when focussed can follow complex instructions.

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 09:48:09

I'm not explaining this well as I'm not a scientist. Hopefully one will come along soon. But what I am gleaning from the one that I spoke to, is that it's less to do with behaviour or character and more to do with how the brain works, where the information is stored and how the brain uses that information.

It may be that involving reward is the way forward. We are hard-wired to do what we need to do when the reward is right - food, sex etc - it makes our brains work more effectively so it would follow on that when a child perceives that an action, or several, will result in a reward it will store that information in a different part of the brain that works more effectively for recall.

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 09:38:28

Now that is a very interesting development OP. I had a discussion following dd's assessments about this type of thing and there is a big difference neurologically when a child internalises (if that's the right word) the instructions. When it's a list they will forget after the first thing, it uses a different part of the brain when there are different approaches to it. So a visual timetable / prompt cards work when the memory only functions after one instruction. But when the instructions are worked through differently, via other parts the brain using different methods such as visual language, reward, the impact is more effective.

Leafmould Thu 09-May-13 19:08:55

Hi, op, you have got loads of things to be thinking about. I was wondering whether your ds can't see the wood for the trees. Ie: explain to him that now it is time for getting ready for bed, and there are a few things he needs to do. Can he think what they are? Once he knows the aim of all the instructions, and is thinking of them for himself he may find it easier to remember what he is doing. It's a different style of communication to try. Lots of people find following instructions difficult, especially a long list.

And if bed time is a flash point, work on trying different strategies at bedtime, to test them out.

Good luck.

Jux Thu 09-May-13 18:55:14

How about simplifying it completely for things he does every day? "Bath time. You know where your dirty clothes go and where to put your uniform, don't you? OK, Big Boy, off you go then." or something.

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 18:47:40

Ok, so I did as you suggested Dervel.

I said "Ds, I need you to do three things, go to your room and get your library books. Go to my room at get the pot of cream, then come down stairs and eat the slice of bread I left out for you." (He'd been nagging me about the bread Id baked, he was busting for a slice).

And guess what? He did it! No flipping problem!

There was far more words and instructions in that, then the example in the OP.

Does that then mean it is selective hearing and the stuff I ask him to do is ignored because there is no reward at the end?

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 16:22:29

greenformica you must not have read the OP at all. I mentioned him repeating it back to me several times.

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 16:21:17

Dervel, I will try that now.

I had a meeting with the lady at school who specialises in this area and she mentioned possible dyslexia.

The good thing is, even if he has nothing I will absolutely be gaining tools to help him which is just brilliant.

Dervel Thu 09-May-13 14:58:06

Try this a little test, sit him down and give him a set of three instructions. Explain he has to do these things in order, but make sure the last one is something he will like be it retrieve a sweet from the table, or something of that ilk.

Watch to see if he get's the instructions jumbled up, and performs them out of sequence, and most importantly make a note if he forgets to take the sweet.

I suffered from an auiditry sequential memory problem when I was young (I am also dyslexic), and my mother did that test when I was 7. I forgot the sweet. It's a bit of a shot in the dark, but I thought it might be useful.

FreyaSnow Thu 09-May-13 14:40:42

I would find it hard to follow adult instructions expressed in that way, and my children wouldn't follow instructions well expressed like that either. It would be similar to me attempting to read instructions to flat pack furniture. It isn't that they don't make rational sense; it's just my brain struggles with, I'm not sure here, the blandness of it? It's like I can spell really well, but if somebody spells a word out loud with each individual letter, I can't follow that.

If I wanted my child to do that I'd go along the lines of, 'feed your socks to the washing basket monster, put your uniform on the stair gate so it is all ready to put on for school tomorrow and slide into the bath like a mermaid. The less imagination in the instruction, the harder we would find it to remember. I don't think this is a disorder. People are taught to remember foreign vocab using the same process.

greenformica Thu 09-May-13 14:37:25

Get him to repeat every thing back to you after you have said it?

cumfy Thu 09-May-13 14:22:49

Seems like DH is providing the "perfect" role model here. grin

Have you tried training him up (DS not DH btw) ?

eg taking him step-by-step through a task, and reinforcing that each time you ask X, this is precisely what he's supposed to do.

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 10:02:37

My son is the same in that he never has a sense of urgency about anything.

For example, if he is in my way and Im carrying his brother, bags, washing etc that Im about to drop, I'll ask my eldest to move out the way and he will do it very, very slowly.

Same goes for crossing roads safely, he will dawdle behind me.

MCos Thu 09-May-13 00:19:43

Oh, forgot to add.
DH can be the same - he can't do 'quick' or 'hurry up' either. He is PhD, but needs processing time or kick in the arse before reacting to anything.

I'd hate to need him to rescue the family from a fire!

MCos Thu 09-May-13 00:14:28

When I read OP - I went 'I have one of those'. DD(10 yrs). It drives me crazy at times.

At nearly 11 - I get best response from her if I break task down into small chunks and follow up after each chunk. Otherwise, nothing gets done on time.
Until she was about 8 or 9, I used to have to stand over her reminding her of each 'next' task to ensure we got out of house on time for school.

My DD is also dyslexic.
She just doesn't do 'quick' or 'hurry up'... (Think airy fairy spacer, in the nicest possible way).

Actually, she is slow to interpret many signals. e.g. If she dances to choreography, she will be out of time. If she does the choreography herself, she has no problems with timing... If she acts out a scene from a book, she can't get the emotions right. But if she acts out something she makes up herself she gets it spot on.

I have often wondered if DD1 is 'somewhere' on the spectrum... I think she might be just be somewhere or other at the very edge. She certainly has no empathy when it comes to her parents!

However DD2 has more severe dyslexia, and responds very well to instructions or any of the above situations. But has more difficulty than DD1 with reading, writing, spelling, etc.

So maybe dyslexia has nothing to do with it.

HopingItllBeOK Wed 08-May-13 23:31:27

twinkle even if you don't think that your DS or DP may be on the spectrum, it absolutely wouldn't hurt to look up some of the coping strategies employed for this who are and either use them or adapt them for your family.

DS1 has ADHD and Aspergers and on some of the (many, many) courses and talks I attended while we were in the road to diagnosis, a common theme was "these techniques can work for any child or indeed adult who has difficulty in these areas." A lack of diagnosis or actual disorder of any kind doesn't mean those techniques will bounce off a magical barrier and not work. They work for everyone who needs a bit of extra help, they just work better for, or rather are more geared towards, spectrum kids.

Things like 'chunking' instructions worked brilliantly for (NT) DS2 when he was at a daydreamy stage and he was already used to the concept because I used it with DS1.

It really doesn't matter how self sufficiency is achieved, what matters is the end result and putting their own clothes in the laundry basket is an important step towards having a confident 18 year old off to uni who can look after themselves rather than one who has never learnt how to do household tasks of more than 2 stages and becomes the bane of their flatmates lives.

Queenbee245 Wed 08-May-13 21:43:21

I'm sure there's a mild form of epilepsy whereby the person blanks out but just looks like they're daydreaming/watching tv etc while its happening but when they 'return' they can't recall anything that's happened during the episode
Although it doesn't sound like it's that for your Ds

jalopy Wed 08-May-13 21:43:10

Agree with an earlier post, it may be some sort of auditory processing disorder.


2rebecca Wed 08-May-13 21:42:42

My son is dyslexic and didn't cope with a series of more than 2 instructions when younger. We had to give him a couple of instructions then go in a few minutes later and give him the next couple if a series was required. Eventually "go up and get ready for your bath" was sufficient as he knew what that entailed.
As a teenager it still tends to be uniform on the beds pants and socks on the floor until he gets moaned at, but I think most teenagers are like that.
I can understand the husband being engrossed by something and not answering issue as if I'm involved in something someone has to say my name fairly loudly to get my attention, if they just start talking I tend to miss the first half of what they are saying because my brain hasn't switched tasks.
Also small kids talk and witter away constantly so your brain filters alot of it out so you can stay sane, and 2 year olds go "mummy mummy" most of the time so I doubt that him not responding to that before you had finished your shower or the 2 year old bothered to actually look for mummy would have done any harm. Teaching the kids to only talk to people in the same room as them might cut down on some of the noise as it sounds as though everyone in your house is always shouting. Also why should the person who wants to talk always take priority?

BelleJolie Wed 08-May-13 21:30:56

He may benefit from his language skills being assessed by a speech and language therapist. They assess auditory memory and ability to follow instructions, which are aspects of language skill (among other aspects such as vocabulary and understanding / use of grammar).

TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 21:21:00

Thanks auntpetunia.

auntpetunia Wed 08-May-13 20:55:58

Like Hettie I wondered about dyslexia or dyspraxia you could have been describing my DS 10 years ago he couldn't process more than 2 instructions at a time. Over time we've worked on this, and now he's older he has a good way of managing but if he's tired he can revert back to staring in complete bewilderment. He was assessed for Aspergers and autism he was classed as having some traits on the spectrum but his dyslexia was his main problem.

TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 20:53:05

Thank you hettie, I will look into it.

hettie Wed 08-May-13 20:40:25

Twinkle- just as another possibility...I am dyslexic and there is no way my working memory would cop with more than three instruction (tbh 2 is optimal). Also, I can't take things in if there is another demand on my working memory (like music or the radio going on at the same time). I too can loose the plot when there are too many things going on at once, too many inputs just fry my brain. Basically I can't 'think' of several things at once, so I am often immersed/oblivious, because I kind of need to be to maintain my concentration. Rather untypically, I learnt to read easily, was a fluent reader and writer fairly early and have a very high verbal comprehension- which is why it went undetected for a very long time. I did very well at school, but I can't spell, write down phones numbers or take directions.... I'm telling you all of this because it might be another possibility, don't assume dyslexia just manifests itself in reading and writing abilities.

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