What do you do about selfishness?

Laura - posted on 06/27/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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My eldest who is 11 has aspergers and is always so selfish. She has no regard for other peoples things, feelings or thoughts. It's always what she wants that matters or what she feels. Give her a lollie for a special treat and she complains she wants two. I have been ill due to be pregnant and so have said that this year i am not upto doing a birthday party and explained why and she got so cross she said she hated me. She didn't care one bit about how sick i have been and that having to look after others kids just wouldn't be something i could do. She also hates to share her things but is very happy to play with her sisters toys (sister is 2yr) and actively preventing her sister from playing. Her self centeredness is really starting to make me very angry. Any suggestions on how to tackle this issue.

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Miriam - posted on 06/28/2011

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This is very much a part of asperger syndrome. She is unable to take the perspective of others. It is a skill that kids with AS have to learn by being taught. My son is 14 and we have been working very hard with him since he was small to try to help him with prespective taking. He has made huge progress. It is terribly frustrating, but it is because they have trouble even conceiving that other people have different thoughts in their heads. They have no "theory of mind." That means they don't have any theory about what other people would think. So they have to be taught about this over and over again. When my son started lying at about age 9 it was like I wanted to celebrate because the ability to lie meant that he understood I might not know. Even then, however, theory of mind takes a long time to develop in kids on the spectrum and then they have to learn what to do with that information. You are pregnant and sick right now so it's a tough thing for you to take on right now. This is definitely not something your daughter can understand. Is there someone else who can work with her on this. Celebrate her birthday on a smaller scale asking the parents of other kids for help if that is possible. Or promise her you can have it later. Then you just have to keep reminding her about how you are feeling and what happens when you feel that way and how she would feel in the same situation. I doubt this will get easier quickly but being patient and just calmly telling her over and over again whenever she needs to hear it might help.

Katherine - posted on 06/28/2011

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She is lacking empathy, which is NOT uncommon in aspbergers/autism.

You may need a therapist for this one, one that specializes in behavior modification.

She is not going to realize without this.





I just found this:





The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of Aspergers. People with Aspergers experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others , a lack of social or emotional reciprocity, and impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture.



http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2010/11/...



There is an article about a mother who's child lacks empathy and what she does about it. It may be helpful to you.

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I think you might benefit from realizing that this is normal for her condition. Kids with any kind of autism have difficulty imagining what others will think or feel, it is called "mind-blindness" or difficulty with perspective-taking. You will need to teach her explicitly how you and others feel in various circumstances (not only when you are angry!). I know it is difficult, I have been homeschooling my grandson with high-functioning autism for five years, and one day I slipped and fell on my face and he didn't even look up from his computer. I know he loves me, he just did not understand. The word "autism" means self-focused. Your daughter is not "selfish" in the moral sense, she just doesn't get it. I would try when explaining I am sick to stay calm, maybe talk a bit about the possible consequences of overdoing (I had to do this recently at home when I was taking care of DGS while having bronchitis and I couldn't go outside to the park with him. No birthday party is rough. Not surprised she had a little meltdown about it, but certainly do not take it personally. It's her condition. If you could take a bunch of her classmates to a fast food restaurant or something, it might satisfy her. Maybe only one or two....she might actually like that better than a huge crowd.

Bec - posted on 06/28/2011

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I don't think they are selfish just fixated and on a mission this is part of the condition,due to that they don't see the bigger picture.With my son if i've got a headache and he is on a mission I ask him to help me get better and make me a cuppa tea and a slice of toast etc...To teach him to demonstrate he cares.It is offten made in a flash but thats cool LOL. I also brought him some pets to mind they are treated like royalty(wish I was one of his pets LOL).I find he is getting much better with age and intervention through talking and using social stories.also when he is sick I will talk him through a situation that i found hard whilst I was sick to try and put him in my shoes when I was sick.If that makes sence?I do role modeling we pretend to be each other I will let him know we are going to pretend etc... and give him a demo. o fthe righ tway and the wrong way keeping it simple and ask him which he thought was the better way for the situation. I find this helps him heaps.

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Joyce - posted on 07/10/2011

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@ Laura K find conversations between Miriam Banash and me! These may be more useful

Joyce - posted on 07/10/2011

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Well, first of all, you are blessed to have such an insightful friend at all. many ppl do not and many have found that friends and family often disappear once a child with heavy special needs comes into the scene. I spent much time telling them that neither Christina nor we asked for any of her needs. And in any event, as a teacher, I can always recommend that 1 or 2 interests outside of school may be fine but overloading students so that dinner is in the car or that they are coming in at 8pm and still need to complete HW without any time to unwind is unhealthy. All students need free time for unstructured social time after HW is completed, esp teens. And once they are in high school it is ever-important that students stay active in school activities as opposed to an after school job. Keeping students close to advisors and getting them involved in activities that teach them to integrate with adults, like calling on local business leaders to request donations for the team, etc., encourages good mature social skills that are later rewarded in the adult work environment. Of course, it also teaches them to work with ppl their own age from all sorts of environments and backgrounds; the processes of negotiations, sharing tasks, skill building, etc., are handled in a safe environment. Over-extending students is a dangerous game that many over-zealous parents refuse to acknowledge. Play the game of raising your family to the beat of your own drum. You're on the right track!

Miriam - posted on 07/10/2011

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I've been fortunate not to get too much guff from the childless. I have one childless friend who usually says very insightful things and I tend to agree with her but she's a good friend. She remained childless because she didn't think she had any maternal instinct but I think she has some. Still, I respect people who choose not to have children because it's such a personal thing. There ARE people who pressure others to have kids who don't want them. Anyway, my friend always apologizes for offering an opinion even though she has no kids so she's aware. She's very supportive of me. It's the strangers and the perfect neighbors whose kids all take two different types of music lessons and every sport ever invented that drive me round the bend. I really don't know how some people fit so much into a day. I have limited capacity for running around and so do my kids!

Joyce - posted on 07/10/2011

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Yup! Couldn't agree more! Keep lovin' your babies your own way; they always let you know what they need and how they need it. They are individuals and they are your own! (and btw, don't you just love it when the childless ones pipe in???)

Miriam - posted on 07/10/2011

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@ Joyce...Absolutely, I learned to ignore the people who questioned my parenting. I found that my best parenting happened when I put on blinders and became so focused on my son that I couldn't see or hear anything else. I'd process the stuff later but by then I was convinced I had done the best that any parent could do so it only made me laugh. I have also had some excellent experiences that I think of when someone criticizes.



At Johns Hopkins I was told, "Alex has asperger syndrome but is well adjusted." The head of autism support at Easter Seals near where I live now tells me and other people that I am "doing it right" and that my kid will do very well. She says that because I don't just help my son but that I genuinely love him and value him exactly as he is and that I'd rather focus on the positives is why Alex will do well. I think my kids are the most interesting people ever and I think that guides me in my parenting. So I stopped listening to critics a long time ago. Either they mean well and are clueless or they are looking for a way to justify their own parenting and that has nothing to do with me. They can pound sand.



I hope that the people who have said these positive things are right. I think I parent better when I follow THEIR ideas than when I listen to critics.



One of my worst critics, a woman who was a bit of a social climber and also did sneaky things to freak out Alex to show everyone how terrible a parent I was, had her own comeuppance when her own son vandalized their whole street and slashed his own parents' car tires! I wish I could have seen her face! LOL. Maybe it wasn't her fault, but somehow her critique of other people seems ridiculous in light of the behavior of her own child. Makes me laugh every time I think of it.



I love it that my kids still tell me I'm the best mom ever. I mean to have a teenager say that and mean it is pretty earth shattering in my opinion. LOL.

Joyce - posted on 07/10/2011

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@ Miriam...One thing you must always remember: YOU ARE NEVER A CRAPPY PARENT. Whatever happens to our children, none of us is being being punished by God for past bad behaviors. My daughter, Christina is 24, was born severely premature and suffered terribly as an infant. My Mother laid that nonsense on me while Christina was at her most fragile and on the death and dying daily roller coaster. It took me years to help Christina form a happy life. She still has roadblocks, but she has graduated college and is on her way. Anyone who would say that to any parent is heartless as your child suffers. God does not punish anyone's children for anything. And no parent is guilty of negative skills if a child has learning challenges. The child is who s/he is, and no matter how life has turned out, somehow the child brings joy, with all the new learning curves we get. Dismiss the nonsense; life is too short and should be spent helping/enjoying your child and family as much as possible. No one on the outside could possibly comprehend life on the inside. Keep those within your home close to you, they are the ones who matter.

Miriam - posted on 07/09/2011

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I really don't believe kids with AS lack empathy. I think they might not pick up on when someone else is upset but when they know someone else is upset they can be VERY empathetic. I see this in my son all the time. I have a theory and I've recently read that some professionals in the field are saying something similar. They are hypersensitive to emotions in other people. They get overwhelmed and shut down or withdraw. That is if they are aware of an emotion and especially a strong emotion. If they are not aware then they are focused on themselves and just can't take the perspective of another person. Everyone who works with my son agrees that he DOES have asperger syndrome and also that he DOES have empathy. He just doesn't always perceive when empathy is needed. He's a very sweet and kind boy most of the time. He hugs me if he thinks I'm sad and asks me what he can do to help. He is happy to do any sort of concrete thing I can ask of him. He knows when I'm upset and is even able to explain it to my husband. :) Granted, Alex has been getting help since he was around 2-3 years old. I started looking into information about autism when Alex was 2 but worried about eye contact when he was still an infant. The team that evaluated him said that I did all the right things to help him. I just followed my instincts. Which is an exceedingly difficult thing when people are all telling me I'm a crappy parent and that I should be doing something different like spanking him or punishing him. I read the book Raising Your Spirited Child when Alex was very small. I bought it for 50 cents at a yard sale. LOL. It sort of set me on a path of trying to figure out the causes of difficult behavior and to assume there were causes and reasons. Once I figured out reasons I could almost always find solutions that worked. It's a little book and not expensive even new. It's also not a difficult read and is very practical. It was the best yardsale purchase I've ever made!

Miriam - posted on 07/09/2011

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Thanks, Joyce. It makes me feel good to know I'm saying something right. I don't always think of these things when I'm in the midst of dealing with difficulties with my children so I get my best ideas when I am telling someone else what I think might work. Then I remember these things a little better later on when I really need to.

Katherine - posted on 07/04/2011

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Laura, I started out doing research and ABA at collge. I have a psychology degree and someone had posted in that department that they needed help with their children/kids. What if you posted or talked to a professor at a nearby college?

Laura - posted on 07/04/2011

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Kathleen i would love to have taken her and her friends somewhere but i can't even do that. I have been so ill that my doctor has told me that i am not to do housework and to try and have as close to complete bed rest as i can. I know it is all part of her condition but my main problem is that when she is on her own in the big wide world she needs to be able to function in normal society and she won't be able to do so with this kind of behavour. It is getting worse.

Laura - posted on 07/04/2011

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bec i wish i had social stories that i could use but we have no help at all. We have tried to get help and got nowhere. I have tried doing the role play but she just won't partisapate. She gets angry if i ask her to help me out when i am sick even if it is just to make her sister a sandwich for lunch or get me a glass of water. She is angry all the time at not getting to do whatever she likes or get whatever she wants.

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