13 Year Old. Poor Empathy and Lack of Awareness of Others(17 Posts)
Our just turned 13 year old is getting into trouble at school due to a combination of excess confidence and a lack of understanding as to how others see his actions.
The situation has become so bad that school are threatening to expel him having already suspended him twice as a 'last chance'.
He is relatively bright and entrepreneurial and adults admire these attributes and complement his initiatives. This has led to him thinking he's bigger than he is.
He doesn't see himself as a child but as an Adult, and can only see things 'his way'. If someone has a different view to his he can only see them as 'being wrong'.
If a teacher does something he thinks is wrong, or turns a blind eye to something that someone else has done, he will have no qualms about telling the teacher 'what they should have done'. He has also in the past gone to the headmaster to 'report' a teacher when they haven't done what he thinks they should have done!
He's popular enough at school but when with his piers it has to be on the basis that he's in charge.
We, and school, have tried very hard to help him understand that this behaviour is not constructive and he needs to try and see things from other people's view point.
He has seen 2x child psychologists/counselors, but like when he's being disciplined he's expert at confidently giving the right answers and responses and reverting back to his old ways immediately the focus is off of him.
Having followed all the advice that school and different counsellors have advised we are now at a loss to know how best to help him, and face the real possibility that he will be suspended.
Any recommendations of professionals able to help, or courses aimed at building tennagers empathy and understanding of others, would be very much appreciated.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Does he actually get punished at all? Tbh it sounds like he's a cocky little gobshite, not a kid in need of more fluffy counselling and empathy lessons.
Sounds like he has a fair few ASD traits and so maybe exploring a diagnosis would be worthwhile, if nothing else it would give the school some way of accessing means to support him and they would have to consider his disability rather than punishing him for something he may actually not understand is undesirable. Perhaps you could ask the school about whether the have a SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) programme and you could explore social stories.
I read it more as asd traits too rather than gobshite. But maybe that is because ds has asd and I can imagine him doing this!
Even 'cocky little gobshites' don't get expelled for what you've described!
What sort of school is it?
Does he understand what might happen? What does he think will happen at another school?
OP, they can't just exclude him from school.
They have to go through all avenues before this and it looks like they aren't.
My ds2 was finally diagnosed with asd at 17 after being thought "a little gob shite' and it looks like dd is even worse than he was at school.
I too would push like mad for an assessment, because if he does have a diagnosis of some sort, the poor child is being punished for nothing.
OP said he's been seen by 2 psychologists. Presumably if asd was suspected they and she would have said so. You know some kids are just plain old badly behaved - without it being because of something that needs diagnosing.
Clearly there are procedures he school needs to follow if he is to be excluded, but it sounds as if OP needs advice before the school gets to that point.
It sounds like he has all the attributes of a successful businessman or politician. At 13 he just hasn't realised that until he is in a position of power he has to conform. I was much the same but over time I learned to empathise and tolerate other peoples views. Even now I sometimes have to simulate an expected reaction.
Definitely think it's worth looking into ASD. If he had support for Speech and Language when he was younger this may help build a picture of what his actual needs are. If not request a Speech and language assessment as this will identify or rule out whether your DS has receptive/expressive language difficulties which could alo contribute to these kind of behaviours.
Make sure you keep a log of his behaviours so if in future assessments his answers are masking/warping the data you have evidence to show that he has certain traits that need support.
If the school has been unsuccessful in using the strategies suggested by the ed psych then maybe they should consider Behaviour Support Services.
An Educational Psychologist would not diagnose ASD - they can support school with strategies regardless of whether a child has a label or not.
ASD diagnosis is done by a Consultant paediatrician - you would have to see the community paediatrician first, then they refer. They would then send a questionnaire to yourselves and to school to fill in and then it is scored. They would also need information from ed Psych reports and Speech and Language.
He's not cocky gobshite !!
There are conditions where someone has a lack of empathy and social understanding.
It could be high functioning ASD but there are other conditions. I wouldn't say it's ASD as he is aware of how he should act - you said he says all the right thing to the councillors.
You may have to talk to him about how he is going to succeed business wise in the future. Conforming. Acting in a certain way to fit in to get what he wants. You may have to turn it so it's about how conforming will benefit him in certain situations.
Heyho, my ds has asd. He knows all the theory of how he should act, but just can't actually do it!
Dd has autism diagnosed at two, she too could give you all the right answers but it doesn't mean that she practises what she preaches. She knows all the theory, has a great list of rules for doing the right thing but they don't always get put into practice in real life because she can't always see where the theory fits in real life situations.
They do sound like ASC traits to me too. My DS could also tell you what he should do while being completely incapable of doing it (Asperger’s diagnosis, now doing nicely in a mainstream school) Not all psychologists or counsellors look out for ASCs, or even know what to look for. Reporting a teacher is classic ASC. My DS’s class teacher has a funny story about when she was being observed taking a class, things didn’t go perfectly and my DS carefully went up to the observer to explain exactly why the class didn’t do the exercise properly. Sure there may be other explanations, but what you’ve described would fit an ASC.
Getting a speech and language assessment might be helpful. I would not have thought my DS had any kind of language problem – he has an excellent vocabulary and his conversation appears very mature – but the SALT absolutely nailed his communication issues. A lot of which were to do with non-verbal communication, facial expression and voice tone; plus what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to; and literal-mindedness. And the paediatritian (also involved in the diagnosis) had fun with conversations like “can you tell me what time it is?” “yes”. This comes across as amazingly sarcastic when a teenager does it but it wasn’t arrogance, DS was simply trying to give the right answer. When he was younger DS got a lot of help with social and communication skills in a group run by a speech and language therapist, and that helped to improve his behaviour as well as his friendships.
my DD was not diagnosed with ASD traits until she struggled with depression at 14. My suggestion would be to get an educational psychologists WISC 4 report. In London I really recommend Katherine Kindersely as their reports are comprehensive and they are supportive too. A report should help schools understand a bit more, as well as help him (and You) start to understand he may see the world a bit differently . If he's bright, they will also stress that staying in education is important, so the LEA will need to help. If he has ASD traits, its important he understands his strengths as well as vulnerabilities. Its a really difficult time for teens on the spectrum as their peers become hard to read, if they are quite literal. good luck.
Really does sound like ASD. Why did the two psychologists he saw conclude that he didn't have ASD - seems to me the burden of proof has to be on them to explain the unusual behaviours you describe? Those are not just "cockiness".
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