4 year old isn't interested in other children

Michelle - posted on 10/21/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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My son is 4 and he seems to have absolutely no interest in playing with other children. He will sort of "tolerate" the neighbor kids who around the same age, but always requests that we go to a neighborhood park where there are rarely any other children. I thought he maybe need some help, so I put him in basketball for 3 and 4 year olds. All of the other kids at practice are so interested in playing with eachother, and it's very clear that he doesn't want anything to do with them. He did well in the part of practice where they shot baskets independently, but once he was asked to join in with a group of other kids he said he didn't want to and stopped participating. I have seen him play well with other kids, but it's more the exception than the rule. He is not in school yet. He says he does not want to make friends of play with other kids. At home his behavior is really good. I can take him anywhere. He rarely ever throws fits, and is a good listener. He interacts really well with adults one on one. He is very verbal and makes good eye contact, is loving and sweet. He does, however, get kind of obsessed with playing with certain things, like his dads extension cords. He'll spend huge amounts of time stringing them around things and then rolling them back up. He also won't color or draw. He can but he says he doesn't like to. Anybody else have a kiddo who acts like this??

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Shannon - posted on 10/21/2010

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My son is 5 and he doesn't care to play or participate with other children. He is one of those children that likes to be by himself or around grownups. I had him enrolled in head-start for two years hoping that would make a difference, and it did not. He is in Kindergarten now and its still the same way. Don't worry, let him do his own thing, I was really concerned with my son and was dwelling on it thinking, omg he is not going to have friends, I didn't want him to be the loner kid. Honestly he is happy, that's all that matters.
To add another twist on this my son, has a twin sister, who is total opposite. She is the social butterfly, constantly getting in trouble for talking and playing when she should be listening.

Ria - posted on 10/14/2012

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Hi Michelle,



I realised you posted this a few years ago now, but I just thought I'd post in case it helps you or someone else.



After many years of experience, both as an early childhood teacher and a mother of a son with Asperger's, if ever I here a mention of 'obsession with extension cords' then my radar goes up for Apserger's syndrome. I stress though, this is not the case for all children, but it's certainly something to consider.



My son never played with any toys as a child, and I mean never. I provided him with all the typical, age-appropriate toys, but none of them held his interest. But from the age of two he was obsessed with cords, fans, the portable heater - plugging them into sockets, pulling them out, turning them on, turning them off - essentially gaining much satisfaction out of his unwitting cause/effect investigations. He's now 7 and the obsession is still with him though of course he's progressed onto more complex assemblies of cords, electronics, circuits and the like. Christmas lights are the be-all-and-end-all for him and I have come to accept the fact that Christmas lives on in our family home all year long, not just December!



Michelle, the fact that your son gets along better with adults, especially one-one-one, than peers of his own age is also another Asperger's signpost. Children with Asperger's often have greater social success with adults because adults are far accommodating during social situations, but equally importantly, often they are more interested in, and interesting to, a child with very different thought processes and ways of perceiving the world.



Tony Attwood, one of the world experts on Asperger's Syndrome describes his clinical experience of working with hundreds of people with ASD:



"From my clinical experience I consider that children and adults with Aspergers Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking.



The person usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with other people. There is also a different perception of situations and sensory experiences. The overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others.



The person values being creative rather than co-operative.



The person with Aspergers syndrome may perceive errors that are not apparent to others, giving considerable attention to detail, rather than noticing the “big picture”.



The person is usually renowned for being direct, speaking their mind and being honest and determined and having a strong sense of social justice.



The person may actively seek and enjoy solitude, be a loyal friend and have a distinct sense of humour.



However, the person with Aspergers Syndrome can have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions.



Children and adults with Aspergers syndrome may have levels of anxiety, sadness or anger that indicate a secondary mood disorder. There may also be problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others. Fortunately, we now have successful psychological treatment programs to help manage and express emotions."



Go to his site here - he's written some *very* informative and helpful books on Asperger's and he links to many other books and webistes tonyattwood com au



And for anyone reading, if you've wondered about your child having Asperger's but thought 'No, he couldn't possibly have it - he's affectionate, expressive, empathic, is able to maintain good eye contact...' don't let that stop you from exploring those things further. My son is all of those things, as am I, but we both still have Asperger's. While many people with Asperger's have great difficulty with the aforementioned, there are others who don't.



Ria

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User - posted on 10/19/2012

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As I dropped my 4 y/o off at preschool teacher pulled me aside to talk to me about my son. I already knew what was coming because I know he is very shy in the classroom. They want him to participate in the school districts PIP (Primary Intervention Program) so he can get some one on one time with a teacher (read:child shrink) where they allow the child to engage in several different activities to allow for self-expression. The also have small group play where they discuss several social situations using puppets, stories, role playing, etc. I knew he needed something a bit more structured because he was speech delayed. Although he only needed therapy for 6 months, one the therapists said he needed to be in a structured environment so he could adapt better social skills since he had missed out on normal interaction with other children at a very young age. I knew that he was deficient in certain social cues, but he seems to get on with all the neighborhood kids and his brother just fine. I don't know if it's the setting or what. I think it could be a confidence thing linked with his speech delay, but hey, I'm not an expert. He has a friend in there he already knew and I guess he just plays with her. Apparently when she's not there, the teachers say he seems "lost". Anyway, know that you're not alone. Maybe there is a reason our kids are "quirky". I'm not particularly worried, but it seems there are resources you can utilize.

Jennifer - posted on 10/13/2012

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if you have any concerns, speak with his doctor. should they jump and want to start meds or something, you don't have to say yes. it never hurts to ask.



my son is 6 and see's a shrink due to issues with his father and the passing of my mother. not being so much into playing with others is rather normal. it is a sign of some things in the autism spectrum, but if you have no other concerns about behavior and such, its not a worry.

Miribaixo - posted on 10/08/2012

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I'm having some similar concerns with my 3 year old daughter. She is a silly, happy and very bright little girl. She is very comfortable with adults and in fact, charms the pants of them most of the time. She'll make up songs, dance and recite all of her abc's and numbers and plain old perform. However, when there are other kids around her age, younger or older, she reverts back to a little baby almost and becomes an introvert. I have a group of very close friends all with kids ranging from 8 months to 5 years old. Any birthday party, she is wherever they are not. If they come play with her, she'll move to the next room. If I invite kids over for a playdate, she has crying fits and gets so upset I think because they are taking over her territory and playing with her toys. I signed her up for a gymnastics class starting at the end of the month and a storytime once a week. I'm thinking of pre-school just so I can get her in a social enviroment. I'm trying not to worry too much however, she has other quirks too that I find concerning. I think she has OCD though it hasn't been diagnosed. She has issues with repetition where she'll repeat things over and over again. For instance, she'll get upset and cry and repeat "all better, all better,.......". I try and comfort her and then it goes on and on and I fing myself getting to the point of enough already and then I feel guilty. She also will repeat something again and again in any situation until I repeat it back to her and then she'll stop. Her OCD extends to her lining things up. She loves to play with animals, blocks, anything and arrange them in a perfect line. I my dog or I accidentally move one even slightly she takes much care to put it perfectly back in a straight line.........again, she's only 3 years old. One more thing, she doesn't really like to color or draw not that I'm sure that means anything at all. In all other ways and aspects, she is a normal functioning little girl. Are any of these things issues I should worry about or is she just quirky? I would appreciate any feedback.



Sorry for the long post.



Thanks for reading!

Jenny - posted on 11/14/2010

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Hi, I just read this and feel like I'm reading about my own 4 year old. He is in preschool 3 days a week and the teachers say he doesn't play with the other kids at all. He really has no interest in talking with them or having anything to do with them. He does, however, love talking to the teachers, especially one on one. He has a 6 year old older brother who he does like to play with as well. He is very social with adults, but just doesn't seem to like playing with kids. Also, he too has an obsession with extension cords of various colors and lengths and also electrical wires. He loves to plug things in (with supervision) like a fan and turn it on and off. He also loves playing with yarn and stringing it all over the house - claiming it's power lines. He is very sweet and loving and just doesn't fit the description for any of the typical labels that they like to put on kids in educational settings. His preschool teachers are slightly concerned about his quirks and lack of desire to play with other kids there, but I'm just not that concerned. I think he is very bright, he is very social with adults and his brother, and I think he just might need some more time to mature with the social aspect. Sounds like our kids would enjoy playing with wires together!

Michelle - posted on 10/27/2010

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This feedback has been really helpful. Thank you all so much!!! It's nice to hear that there are other kids that act this way and that maybe it is just part of his personality.

Kim - posted on 10/26/2010

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My daughter is the same way. She plays with her older brother and sister, cousins and older neighbors. She would freeze up with Grandparents but started to open up more during the summer. I enrolled her in Preschool so she would get out of her shell more. and so far she will not play with the other kids. She tells me, even the ones older than her, are babies. One girl was having a hard time and the Mom invited some of us for a playdate. It ended up being just her daughter and mine, but I brought my older daughter too. My younger one is more comfortable with her around and they all played together nicely but she will not talk to the little girl in school. She's just not comfortable enough there yet. I think my daughter's teacher think that my daughter looks at the kids in her school as little and that is why she doesn't talk to them yet. She is old for her age and tall, instead of almost being 4 she is more like a 6 yr old. When she wasn't even 2 she insisted she was 4 and people believed her.

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Just wondering, does he go to pre-school or child care? If it's not too late, maybe it would be good to enrol him in for a couple of days a week, so that going to school won't be too much of a shock to him having to spend all that time in a big group of kids.


When I first started reading your post I thought of "autism spectrum" which seems to be the fashionable diagnosis these days, but when you said he gets on really well with adults and talks well etc, it certainly doesn't sound like he's autistic.

Maybe he just hasn't so far met another kid who shares his particular interests, and when he does, he'll be thrilled.

Shannon - posted on 10/21/2010

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He sounds like me I don't really hang out or talk with many other ladies my age it is usually older ladies or people that I spexk with and I find that it is because in my mind I am older then I am I learned alot really young like how to raise my 3 brother even though i was a child myself my parents worked so i had to be home for them cook clean and learn how to be an adult at a very young age and It effects everything you do even your friendships and it's hard. I still find it hard because most people my age that I know love to go out party and drink and have a good time where I always choose to be at home and with my hubby and kids reading or doing a craft of some kind. but if it's an older group having coffee and tea we have great conversations and I don't know how to explaind that other then maybe in his mind he is just older then most of the kids his age and feels he fits in better with the older crowd.

Michelle - posted on 10/21/2010

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I haven't talked to his doctor. Sometimes I feel like doctors are really quick to slap a label on a child who acts a certain way, and I wanted to get feedback from other mothers who may have experienced similar behavior (and maybe saw their child grow out of it). I have asked him why he doesn't like other kids and he has said they are "mean". These are kids he hasn't even spoken to or interacted with though. He does well with groups of adults--I mean kind of how you might expect a 4 year old to act. If he's one on one with an adult he's great, very polite, responds well, happy acting, talkative. He seems to do better with little girls than with little boys. Also, he likes older children just fine. We have neighbors who are 11 and 14 and he is always asking them if they want to come over and play. He doesn't really want anything to do with their 5 year old brother though.

Shannon - posted on 10/21/2010

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I was wondering if you have talked to a doctor yet about your concerns? I have a son who has a hard time making friends and if he makes 1 he only had that one friend and it is worry some I was the same and I really don't even know why. Have to talked to your son and asked him what it is that he doesn't like about other kids or being in a crowd of people, my hubby has a problem with crowds and it effects everything so much but there could be some he just doesn't like abotu people in general. does he act the same way in a group of adults? my be he just acts older then he is ? there are so many things but I would look into it so he doesn't completely isolate himself from everyone

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