Hello--I am posting for advice on my son's behavior.
History: He just turned 6; lives at home with me (stay-at-home mom), dad, sister (age 3), and brother (age 1). We have had a journey with him in that his first several years were consumed with trying to figure out why he was terrified of other children. This started in late infancy, and effectively isolated us so that he had an abnormal social development path compared with other kids. All other development was normal.
We started seeking help when he was 2.5, and got suggestions from anxiety to Asperger's to "nothing" to sensory issues, etc. Finally he was dx'ed with PDD-NOS so that we could get him into social skills and music therapy groups at age 3.5. He has improved so much over the past 2 years. He seemed to "grow out" of the issue and our best guess looking back is some sort of sensory problem that caused a huge fear reaction. He is currently completing his 2nd year of regular Pre-K; scheduled to start kindergarten at public school this fall.
Questions: (1) He seems to approach life in the past year with the "glass-half-empty" view. He turns questions into negative statements--instead of "Can I go outside?", it's "I can't go outside." Also says things like "I'm bad" or "You hate my drawing." It seems he (and we) gets stuck in a downward spiral of complaining, whining, and anger when he is in this mood. We try to stay positive and frame the behavior (but not the temperment) as a choice. And he is not always like this. Is it attention-getting behavior? When he gets too unpleasant we send him upstairs till he can calm down. What technique is best when responding to this?
(2) Play with kids improving, but he quickly can get overly goofy/annoying--loud, shrill, running, jumping. Goofy baby talk with his sister, who seems more socially mature at age 3 than he does sometimes. He now has friends at Pre-K (he had a hard time integrating socially his first year, so we held him back from kindergarten in favor of a second Pre-K year) but they are younger so his play gets "dragged down" a level. I'm concerned this will happen in kindergarten, too. Are we expecting too much? At other times, he plays just fine--games, imagining with friends, and so on.
(3) Is often submissive to other kids--"My friend took my Legos and he is the boss of me." We focus on helping him use his words, but then he gets upset or cries if it doesn't work. Any suggestions?
(3) Needs lots of intellectual/physical stimulation. Tested ahead of grade level at Kindergarten assessment. He has lots of interests; a couple things he really likes--nature and building things--and we do all we can to encourage him. Always asking questions and his body and especially his mouth is in constant motion. He is starting to read, so I hope this will help. But he is wearing us out. He's complaining of being "bored". Could he be ADHD?
On good days he is a real joy; on bad days he affects the whole family. Is he just a "high-needs" child?
There really isn't much in your description that would suggest ADHD, though I cannot insist it is not present. What is striking is your son's immature social development. Now, this may represent a condition along the PDD spectrum. At his age it can be hard to discern a rather high-functioning (so-called) PDD child from one who is displaying a delay in social and emotional development. At this point, I would tend to favor the latter formulation. Be sure to introduce him to small group, out-of-school recreational experiences so that he continues to have 'practice' relating with peers in fairly highly structured and well supervised settings. Relative to his negativity, I would suggest you reply: "What is it that you want?" This may help him to be more direct in his requests or statements of his 'needs'.
Thank you so much for your quick response. We had thought about social skills classes for him this summer though it seems that he has pretty well moved beyond the skills covered. We have been playing a made-up game called "What do I do when..?" and coming up with solutions to certain situations. Interestingly his Pre-K teacher has no problems with him other than the tendency to goofiness with his friends. He will settle down when prompted. When we told her about his past history she said she never would have guessed.
Sometimes I think his tendency to be submissive comes from him trying to keep other children from getting upset--their screaming and crying were the major trigger which made him hysterical those first few years, and for a long time he would give in to his sister just to keep her from crying.
I think the negativity is what we have been most worried about. I've been hoping that the more competent we make him feel (by being able to handle his own problems by stating what he wants) the less negative he'll feel. My husband thinks we're trying to give him "adult skills" when other kids his age just seem to do or take what they want rather than using words, and I see his point. But I don't know how to teach him to just roll with it--like, if someone grabs a toy, to take it back and not worry about their reaction. I guess we'll wait and see...
hi there! i just wanted to tell you that I have an almost 7-year-old boy who seems to struggle socially also. YOur comments about the glass being half empty really hit home with me. The way you say he effects the whole family also is something I struggle with. He has a little brother who is 4 1/2 who is developing at a "normal" rate, socially. I see how much easier it is for my little one. I sometimes feel the walls closing in when my child gets in one of his moods, or when he doesn't seem to be able to muster up the confidence to ask a group of kids to play. I'm also a stay-at-home mom, and I have KNOW that there was nothing in his environment that would've contributed to his anxiety. He was born that way.
But, he is making progress. I do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a slow journey. But I keep praying that he figures things out!!!
Keep me posted on your child. Good luck. It's really hard to have a "high needs" child.
I also have a daughter, now 7, who I believe is on the immature side socially and emotionally. Academically she is right where she needs to be for first grade but I do see, compared to some of her peers, that she is somewhat immature.
She has issues communicating her feelings without anger. And once she is at a point like this, there is no diverting her back. None. She always wants to be in control of a situation and can be somewhat aggressive.
It is very difficult and draining because she could be so much happier if things were different.
Hello, I too have 6 yo (almost 7) who is deeply struggling with social behaviors. Our 3yo daughter doesn't seem social set back as he does. My nerves started to jitter when my husband and I read your comment. We've taken him to evaluators and they've deemed him "normal". We still worry b/c he acts goofy often and seems to not have control over it. He doesn't know when to shut it off and be serious. We had to teach him to be compationate of others. He also has a very short attention span when we're talking to him. We've been told bye naturopaths to look into his diet. Wheat, dairy and red dyes really seem to agravate a 'high needs' child. Our son is also very bright. We homeschool to keep his social group size in control and it really helps. He can focus on his desire to learn and experience new things along with still having small but very useful playdates (w/ mixed ages sometimes). We also started him in Aikido (defensive martial art). It has been our saving grace. He is in a small social setting with a great deal of structure and having to learn how to respect his sensei, the dojo, fellow peers and most importantly himself. I strongly recommend something like that. The offensive arts furture aggravate the situation though. Juditsu is another kind of defensive martial art. Good luck and I hope to hear how things are progressing. We have wonderful and painful days still yet. I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel!
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