Won't say "I love you"

Aiyana - posted on 03/24/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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My 5yr old son has a mild case of Asperger's, He refuses to say "I love you", when prompted when you ask him why he just says "cause I don't want to", but he will climb up and cuddle with you or give you a hug. I told him just the other day that it was OK and he did not have to say it cause he shows it in other ways. I told him he could say something else instead like, "me too." He seemed at ease with that and now when I tell him "I love him" he says, "I know, me too!"



I was just wondering if any one else was having this same issue and how you are dealing with it?

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Corrina - posted on 04/04/2010

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Hi Aiyana. My son who has Aspergers is now nearly 16. It took a really long time for him to say I love you, to hug or kiss. I just persisted in hugging him, and saying I love you, he was about 12 when he got it into his routine. Say goodnight, hug, kiss and say I love you. But the thing is that he doesn't actually feel it, even though he says it. I think it's just something that we have to get used to. He doesn't express his emotions the same as I do, but of course he has these emotions. I worry that he'll never find a girl that understands him(now that he's nearly 16) but I worry about a lot. good luck, corrina.

Melissa - posted on 04/01/2010

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He probably doesn't want to say it because he knows you already know! It's kind of like, you don't go around randomly saying,"The sky is blue." We know that already. I hope that makes sense. Just remember that kids with ASDs don't generally have a strong sense of themselves as being separate from others. That is to say, it's hard to emotionalize because there's an assumption that the other person already knows how you feel.



It could also just be one of his little quirks too. I have a friend whose son (an aspie) doesn't like to say. "I love you," or give hugs. My son (verbal autistic) refuses to say goodbye to nearly everyone. It took a long time before he'd say ILY as well. We learned that by using the phrase, "I say, 'I love you,' then you say, 'I love you too.' Ready? I love you!" and wait for the response.



Maybe he'd like a code word, like "ditto," or a wink of the eye. Work with it and you'll figure out something that works for you both.

Suzanne - posted on 03/30/2010

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As a special ed teacher I find that sometimes if you and the child pick out a secret word and decide to use it as a secret way to tell one another that you love each other it sometimes works. Pick something you both like, like "chocolate" and agree that when you say it to one another that you are secretly saying I love you and it's special between you and takes the pressure off the child. When one of my daughters was little she couldn't say I'm sorry, just couldn't say it and this worked for her. Children who have Aspergers are challenging but very interesting, I love the way their minds work and have always enjoyed working with these children.

Veronica - posted on 03/27/2010

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It's worth remembering that things like saying 'I love you' are cultural and also generational. My parents (my mum is now in her 90s) almost never said 'I love you' specifically - past generations didn't, and they were from Austria where the culture would be different anyway. I knew they loved me cos they showed it in other ways. Getting a child to say 'I love you' is not an essential part of child rearing. It's just part of a particular culture.

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Savannah - posted on 09/23/2013

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I'm having the same issue.... Cam hasn't been diagnosed with anything even though I've always suspected he may have a mild form of some type of autism.... Mainly due to his obsession with organizing things by color and lining his toys up in straight rows (he would get upset if you moved just one). Anyways, I tried to get him to tell me he loved me tonight but he just asked if we could pretend that he said it bc "that word isn't in my brain mom." He has no problems screaming I hate you when he gets mad though. It's crazy and I'm not sure what to do. I'm trying to find a different word that may be easier for him to use.... Any ideas????

Savannah - posted on 09/23/2013

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I'm having the same issue.... Cam hasn't been diagnosed with anything even though I've always suspected he may have a mild form of some type of autism.... Mainly due to his obsession with organizing things by color and lining his toys up in straight rows (he would get upset if you moved just one). Anyways, I tried to get him to tell me he loved me tonight but he just asked if we could pretend that he said it bc "that word isn't in my brain mom." He has no problems screaming I hate you when he gets mad though. It's crazy and I'm not sure what to do. I'm trying to find a different word that may be easier for him to use.... Any ideas????

Kerry - posted on 01/09/2013

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my son is 12 and is high functioning Autism and he will say it if he really has to but he not keen on it and he has admitted he does not know what love is. I feel it is becuase they do not know what love the emotion itself means. I am dating a Aspie and he explains as a 28 years he has no glue what love should feel like. Things we seem to take for granted that we pick up as we grow up they dont grasp as quickly. My partner is old fashioned and is passionate, but the feelings he gets inside he is unsure,He logical I not sure if it is similar to their trouble reading faces. I think they see love in a more logical way. But with help and guidance they will learn to understand

Angela - posted on 04/03/2010

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My son is 19 and still can't say I love you but he has just learn to accept a hug without flinching. I don't mind at all because he has other ways of showing his love. He made me a tape full of songs written to mothers once and still gets very happy when he hears me listerning to it. He told me taht although he flinched when hugged he still liked it when I hugged him and I am glad that you still tell your son that you love him even though he can't say it to you. He needs to hear it

Michelle - posted on 04/01/2010

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My daughter recently started saying it spontaneously but she's 7. Like your son she cuddled with me and gave hugs but I think something just sort of recently switched on that she equated that with love so she started saying it. If you're getting physical affection I wouldn't make a big deal of the verbal quite yet. If he's more verbal and seems to want to please you in other ways, you might note to him that "sometimes we say nice things even if we don't want to because it makes mama happy/proud/etc."

Fiona - posted on 04/01/2010

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Wow - you're getting cuddles - that's fantastic. Sometimes cuddles can mean more than saying 3 little words, even though we all like to hear it from our children. It took many years for ours (we have two Aspergers children) to say 'I love you', and it's only been in the last 6 months that we've started to get hugs (our kids are nearly 9 and 7). It's like training a dog sometimes (sounds horrible but it's true), lots of repetiton and eventually they may get used to it. I'm overjoyed that we're getting hugs now (not so much from our nearly 9 yr old, but it's an improvment). It will probably come in time, personally I think you're doing pretty well getting hugs, for his age. Good luck!

[deleted account]

We are working with a mild case of Autism and I heard those words "I Love You Mama" for the first time when my son was 6 yrs old. He blew me away as it was all on his own when I was tucking him in bed. I ran from the room crying and running to tell my husband. I know how it is waiting to hear them speak clearly to you. They do show there own way of love and may be the words will come later but until then we just talk as we would normally and shower them with love too. It is very interesting what we can take for granted until we meet those who don't have it yet. As it is said "actions speak louder than words"!

Stephanie - posted on 03/30/2010

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My 2 1/2 yr old doesnt say it. She just started saying Mommy and Daddy. Which is a miracle to me. I have only gotten 5 kisses total, but she is cuddley and loves to hug me. She runs up and hugs me and I say I love you too. Not sure if I will ever here those words, but I know she loves me and shows it her own way.

Meri - posted on 03/27/2010

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My 14 year old son only told me he loved me once and it's precious. My husband became ill and we swapped roles. I had been back to work for two months and my husband became the primary caretaker when my Aspie son was 6 years old. We were alone one day and he said, "I still love you best, but I love daddy now." It warmed my heart and what a relief. He so relied on me and now he trusted another (and who better than his father). And yes, I think our kiddos show love in many other ways that compensate for the verbal. I think they feel enough pressure from our world and we should be cautious about pressuring them to say things they may not be comfortable saying. Sharing their true feelings seems to be stressful for my kiddo.

Kellie - posted on 03/26/2010

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I think that anyone can tell you that they love you,but it is the day to day things that they do,which is love.My son is nearly 17,he has been telling me he loves me for about 9 years now,when asked why"because my mum knows what dinner i like",good enough for me!!

Nissa - posted on 03/26/2010

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The way I got my son to start saying it is that I incorporated it into his normal bedtime routine. Soren likes to repeat what other people say so I would tell him night night and he would repeat that and then I would start saying I love you in speech that sounded like his. He now says it but I'm not sure if he knows what it means.

Kelly - posted on 03/26/2010

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my 4 yr old wouldn't say it either. every night i would put him to bed and say"i love you" he would just lay there quiet..i started saying it real close to him. and then i would giving a tickle and tell him "you could say, i love you too" he would just smile. one day he just came out ans said it back! after all the time i spent afraid i'd never hear him say "mommy or daddy" or anything for that matter. "i love you" is iceing on the cake

Lori - posted on 03/26/2010

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No, but don't take offense to it or let it break your heart. He'll say it when he's ready :)

Ilene - posted on 03/25/2010

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I've been told that many kids who are "on the spectrum" just can't seem to say these words. I don't know if this is because they can't grasp the concept or something else.

I have 3 year old twins who are both on the spectrum. Thus far, my son has said "I Love You" twice to me, in his lifetime (that wasn't just his echolailia). He's NEVER said this to his Dad, older brother, or twin sister. I treasure BOTH of them. My daughter has never said this. They are both very snuggly and I know that they DO love me, but I have come to realize that I shouldn't expect them to say those words.

As much as I would love to hear these words come from their mouths, I'm satisfied with what I have. The fact that they can't say it doesn't seem to bother them, so I'm not allowing it to bother me. But if I feel that it is a problem, I think I will do the same thing you have done. It doesn't stop me from saying it to them though.....

Melanie - posted on 03/25/2010

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My son can't talk so can't even say mama. Only uses the sign for dada. When i tell him i love him he stops what he's doing and comes and gives me a big kiss so i know he loves me. Sometimes it's hard. I find it hard not hearing mama (esp since he's now 2) yet i see him sign dada all day long. It's frustrating but at least he's saying "me too" to you and acknowledging what you said to him. It may only be small but it's a start. xx

[deleted account]

Hi Aiyana I have 2 boys my eldest is 10 and high functioning and my 6yr old is aspergers and probably adhd. They are so different from each other I wonder if I did something wrong! my eldest adam is well behaved most of the time he can really throw a strop though and it doesnt come naturaly to him to tell me he loves me or give me a cuddle or kiss, he has learnt to do it but I have never pushed it ,when he gives me a cuddle its like a stranger cuddling me the face is turned away as far as he can and he tend to put his hands on my shoulder and pat in a "there there " kind of way I would love for him one day to give me an unprompted full on beer hug ! but I dont think it will ever happen. My 6yr old Ben is so different he is over affectionate to the point I some times have to tell him off for rugby tackling me for a cuddle and kiss, and on a number of occasions I have been called in by his teacher because he keeps trying to kiss her!

Im sure your son will learn to but I probably wouldnt mention it just keep telling him you love him and he will learn , but as you said you know he loves you cos he shows it in other ways

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