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How does this sound to you?

(4 Posts)
Longtallsally Thu 20-Oct-11 22:14:53

Any thoughts most welcome in helping me get a proper perspective (and an action plan for next time)

Every six months or so ds1 upsets someone enough for their parents - sometimes complete strangers, sometimes friends parents - to feel the need to speak to me about it, and make me feel awful about the way he has spoken to their child. It’s happened again today. He is not rough, he's just a very intense person, who is quite competetive and task focused. He is also 11 years old, and not always as tactful as he ought to be - but has always had this apparent ability to reduce apparently confident friendly people to tears with an offhand remark..

He's tall, and bright and I know that he can be dismissive of other people's ideas. I mention that he is tall because I think that leads others - particularly adults - to expect him to be able to be more mature than he is and to cope with understanding their kids feelings. I'm not defending him - I know that he can come across as brusque, particularly if he is in a hurry to get things done, and that's not nice. We talk to him about this whenever it happens, try to get him to understand the other person’s point of view, and always discuss ways of apologising – though in some ways it would be so much easier to apologise if he was lashing out and giving someone a black eye! Bruising their feelings is harder to explain and hard to clear the air from.

(He can also be incredibly helpful and kind and sensitive and he does have good friends. He also has a little brother, with a fairly normal/healthy relationship with him. But he does have difficulty picking up on subtler signals that someone wants something, or is looking for a certain reassurance from him, and can trample fairly spectacularly on their feelings.)

I don’t think that I am overthinking this. The other child today was really upset. It wasn’t so much what he said – ds wanted to get something done and didn’t want their help – but it’s the way he speaks to people that hits home far more powerfully than he wants to. Do I
a) try to avoid stressful situations which is when it seems to occur most.
b) tell him to develop a thick skin and get over it
c) ignore it. It's all part of growing up and he needs to find his own way through
d) punish him. Explanations of others feelings and getting him to apologise does not seem to prevent this happening each time, and 'just' apologising is not enough

Longtallsally Thu 20-Oct-11 22:16:15

Sorry, that was a bit long blush

Wellthen Fri 21-Oct-11 09:32:34

Now, I'm not an expert so please don't take this as gospel (and please don't be offended either) but he sounds like he has aspergers. Children with aspergers can still be kind and sensitive and your explanation on his 'offhand-ness' makes it sound likely.

All I'm trying to say is, if this is the case, there isn't much you can do that will stop this behaviour, you just have to keep working at developing his understanding. Definately talk to him, outline what he said and how it made the person feel. Be very clear that even if he doesn't understand why the person is upset, that doesn't mean they don't have a right to be upset. Ask him to aplogise. With the other parents I would simply say that DS doesn't understand emotions or empathy very well and he doesn't mean to offend.

From what you've said it seems unlikely that he is doing this for attention or to be deliberately unkind so if he doesn't have aspergers, or if you don't agree with diagnosis as some people don't, I think I would still do the above. As difficult as it is, the other children and parents may just have to accept that some people are a bit rude and to the point, generally without meaning to. Think about how many adults you know who are like this!! I wouldn't ignore or punish as I don't think its for attention. If you know situations that trigger I wouldn't necessarily avoid them but I might prep DS for them - 'when you are...you must try to be paitient with X and not say...' so that he has a 'heads up' to be careful about what he says.

My brother has aspergers but never got a proper diagnosis as a teenager. As his embarrased younger sister I felt a diagnosis would have helped people understand him and have a bit more paitence. So, I'm someone that believes diagnosis can be helpful and that 'labeling' isn't necessarily negative. I know others really hate labels, I don't wish to offend anyone.

Longtallsally Fri 21-Oct-11 10:43:18

Thank you Wellthen. That is a really really helpful response, and I am certainly not offended. Whether or not he would ever get a dx of Aspbergers, your reply rings true with me as the right way to deal with him.

I must admit, when he puts his foot in it and dismisses other people in this way, in order to get a job done, I recognise myself in there. It's something that I have to watch myself on, when I am busy/stressy. I did once do an online diagnostic test for aspbergers for myself and came out not being so, but being miles away either - (I think that a score of between 16 - 25 recommended approaching your GP for further advice. I was around 11 or 12.)

It may simply be that, as a family, we are not very good at dealing with stressy situations, or as you say, maybe there is a medical reason underlying it. Either way, I'll keep on working with him.

Thanks again for responding.

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