Thursday, December 11, 2008

Social Intelligence or Lack Of...

HH my son likes to make noise. It’s not just his verbal spew—sudden sounds that he seems to make out of the blue, or questions that he will ask me no matter what I might be doing, watching, or whom I might be talking to. It’s also the ever so annoying tapping, jiggling, body thumping and body jumping. As of late, he has become a 5 foot 7 inch fidgeter. I wanted him to sit down and watch this segment from ABC News on autism and halfway through he turned away and started tapping a fork on the table. STOP IT!! I didn’t raise my voice or ask him to stop right away because I was still listening to the end of the segment and I knew (all too well) that if I interrupted his fidgeting, then I would get a “What…WHAT? It's just a fork …blah, blah, blah” (as if it’s the fork to blame) and no more watching an important segment for me. I’ve come to realize that I’ve trained myself to listen through Nick's noise making. Kinda like the talent of listening through walls …

This is clearly where he is lacking in social skills, common courtesy, and sympathy; and teaching him to understand--on his own--w/o having to be told that I was still listening to the news even though he had decided to tune it out and bounce a fork off the table… and ever so loudly!

Right now as I’m writing this, he has walked by me tapping his hand against his pants … and I’ve never realized how loud that sound could actually be.

It’s the same thing as his uncanny ability to have a certain conversation at the absolute wrong moment. For instance, last night while we had just starting eating dinner (that I had slaaaaved to cook), he asked me why people throw up … Really! And just as my very first forkful of food was finally delivered to my mouth, too. Not a great combo of taste and thought. He then continued with “Can you throw up if you eat or drink too much water?” Again, I don’t like to cut him off when he initiates conversation (to encourage conversation and to avoid "retaliation"), but I really could not allow him to talk about gross things at dinner—and we’ve had this conversation before. And even though I reminded him not to talk about gross things while we eat “Because we lose our appetite,” he replied. “Yes, that’s right,” I said, ever so politely (trying to save dinner), but he still had another quickie question about throwing up in general, and you don’t want to know more about that descriptive part of the conversation, but let just say it was the demise of dinner!! And let me just point out here, that if it were he who was still enjoying his dinner, or better yet, enjoying a ooey, gooey, yummy snack, and I just so happened to bring up a topic about someone drooling (a trigger subject for him), then he would yell at me and say something like: “Why do you want to be gross while I’m enjoying my food? Now I can't eat anymore." And continue to perseverate with ..."Why, why, why do you do that? Why, Mom, why do you want to be gross? Why?........”

Uh-huh!

Oh, the hypocrisy…. Or better yet, lack of understanding ones feelings? And this has been something that I’ve been working on with him for quite some time, and, apparently, not learning too much.

I believe it has to do with his disorder; however, I do believe that kids on the spectrum do understand feelings, emotions and are able to sympathize… Nick has proven to me that he can and does to a small degree. He just has a great deal of trouble trying to understand why people don’t think the way he thinks, or like what he likes, or know what he knows—a deficit in social intelligence rather than lack of empathy--common issue for people on the spectrum. I’m assuming that this is just another developmental milestone that he has yet to conquer and hopefully he will.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

All of this takes intensive theory of mind/perspective taking/ executive functioning programming all of which districts have no clue how to do. Honestly the only ABA people in the industry that know how to do this well is CARD (Center for Autism And Related Disorder). The have hundreds of programs for this. I know kids who went through their programming when they were younger that were much like your son and have recovered. These things just can't passively be taught or taught by some lame SLP. Go to Hidden Recovery's website. She talks a lot about this.

Mama Mara said...

Drool - gah! Now I can't swallow!

Em said...

I do think it is all in the moment. Our son can be incredibly compassionate and see other points of view at times. At other times, it is all about self. He isn't selfish. It is just about himself.

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

" . . . trying to understand why people don't think the way he thinks."

We wrote about the same topic today! Definitely on the same wavelength . . .

Christina said...

Evan taps everything almost all the time. It drives me up a wall. People seem to think that it helps him self-soothe. Definitely a behavior that will take a lot of ABA work -- if only our insurance didn't recently cap out on it!!!! AHhhhh!! ;)

Anyway, just wanting to say that I relate.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Thanks for all of your comments, I personally have learned a few things today with this one topic...and Mara, you crack me up!! And thanks for sharing, Christina, I agree that it does help our kids to calm themselves by "fidgeting."