Need Help with a 14 Year Old who lacks Empathy/Possible Anti Social Personality/ODD !

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by KeepingitTogether, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. KeepingitTogether

    KeepingitTogether New Member

    Hello...This is my first time here, as I was searching the internet for information, or possible ideas, of how to deal with my 14 year old son, I came across this site. It's very interesting and I'm curious as to what feedback you might have for me. There is no way to make a long story short. So here goes. I am a stay at home Mom, with a husband who works from morning until about 7 pm. Wonderful dad. Takes great care of us. We have 4 Children 17, 14, 12, & 7. From about he age of, say, 4, I started to notice willfullness in my son that I did not in my older child. So as far as parenting is concerned through the years, he never responded well to the word no, or to the the consequence, so he defied punishment. Which made for a lot of arguing, loud voices, a lot of back and forth, etc. Over the years as he grew and he became more crafty with words, he began to belittle. Even when siblings were nice to him, he could not and can not return a compliment or carry a conversation where it does not end in him belittling. I have tried through the years to correct this by making him apologize, etc, but it is robotic. We have had hundreds upon hundreds of heartfelt conversations through the years on how words hurt. But to no avail, he uses them on anyone in his path, in the family. He has never wanted to help my husband in the garage on weekends (normal father-son activity) or just bum around in that sense, he acts more bothered bothered by those type of things. As for me, This year (9th grade), is the first year one teacher mentioned he was very laid back, but a good kid. He's not obsessed with video games and is a very good Baseball Pitcher. He's played ball for 8 years, and hopes to make the Freshman team. We always wonder, if anyone else knew how he treated his family at home, they would be appalled. It feels like "our family secret". No one would believe it if we told them. But it has been years of hell for myself and the kids. My oldest daughter has been scarred by his remarks, I just know. My 12 year old daughter is good at ignoring, and the situation with my 7 year old son is what concerns me. He has never made a "bond" with his brother that is like older brother to younger brother. He sees it more of like they are on the same level. He actually get mad at my 7 year old as if they were both the same age and he should be punished the same way. He wrestles with him as if he were wrestling with another 14 year old. It's as if he's never got the concept of the age difference. He has never and will never acknowlege that there is a certain way to treat someone who is 7 years younger than you. He just doesn't get the concept, and manipulatively uses it to say that I NEVER punish the my younger son. But quite frankly, I have since birth, been watching out for the safety of my younger son, and to this day have never left him alone with my older son. Back to Baseball, he is well liked in that circle, he is seen by others as composed, patient, controlled, and serious. He hardly goofs off, and listens well to coaches. But boy, when he gets in the car to go home, he will cut others down with his words. Again, people would be appalled. As for the dynamics between my husband and I, I am exasperated because through the years I have expected him to back me up and say, "Respect your Mom." But I actually have to tell him to say it to our son because he is sooooooooooo incredibly laid back. He never says a bad word about anyone. (Side note: my husband is well liked by everyone he comes in contact with, so my frustration with him regarding parenting no one understands) We love our family, we want to stay a family, but the wedge this has put between all of us is frighteningly becoming more obvious. Ben did start counseling about a year ago, but we only lasted about 4 months, it was clear to the counselor (who I really liked) that Ben was just telling him what he wanted to hear, and he said counseling won't work unless Ben is ready to own up to his part. Also, as far as testing, they ruled out any mental illness, and came up with only a lack of Empathy toward others, and no real diagnosis of any sort, but to tell me he's fine, but lacks Empathy. What brought me here is the fact that this weekend, when he was getting mad at his little brother and grabbing his face, I pulled his hands away....and he said, "I hate you." I'm exhausted and sad going on 10 years of all this... Any suggestions on where to go from here.......
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Hi there! Welcome to our little world... Which isn't as little as some would like to believe. A cliche around here that is the absolute truth is - I am glad you found us, though sorry that you had to.

    You may want to edit your post & remove your son's name. :wink:

    OK, first thing... Laid back... Doesn't mean gets away with not backing you up. In my husband's case, for years he was an enabler - "laid back". Not so much anymore, but it's a long story why.

    Your son sounds a lot like my daughter. Manipulative, refuses to tell the counselor what is really going on, shows the world his awesome side and his family gets the garbage. Family is "safe".

    Mental illness is a slippery critter. Testing per se doesn't always come up with "the answer". There are so many, many possibilities. Did your son encounter any trauma as a child? Lacking empathy is not "fine"... If he truly does not feel how his actions may affect others...

    Has he ever hurt anyone or anything?
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, and so sorry you had to find us, but glad you did.
    He is still awfully young for any definitive testing, but at least you've gotten a start.
    One thing that caught my eye was the word "robotic." You mentioned it in regard to apologies. I would try withholding privileges in regard to his apologies and his meanness, instead of just lectures. He is not hearing you. It does not compute. It has to be something he "gets."
    And I don't know that this means he has an antisocial personality disorder. He could be on the autism spectrum. Have you ever had him tested by a neuropsychologist? It's a full day or two or testing.
    There are also quizzes you can take online.
    What was he like as a baby and toddler, other than not responding appropriately to the word "no"? (That pretty much goes for all of our kids here!)
    You're in good company in many ways.
  4. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    The not understanding the age differential between him and his younger sib and not likely understanding apologies, not having an interest in 'garage time', good at following rules all make me think: Asperger's.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Who is "they"?
    I'm guessing this wasn't a comprehensive evaluation, done by a neuropsychologist or a child development/behavioral team or a PhD-level psychologist specializing in child and adolescent challenges...

    Mental illness isn't the only option. And even then... it depends on who "they" were. It might still be an option. You need a more comprehensive evaluation.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think he has an Asperger flavor too, but he also sounds anti-social and that doesn't go with Aspergers, although you can have both. However, he sounds more calculating than an Aspie and his behaviors only happen at home. I'm guessing he Anything different about his birth than the other kids? Any big changes in his life when he was really young? Did he have any delays of any type or any odd quirks? Was he sick as an infant? Different? Anything you can tell us may help us. In the present, does he break the law and lie or is he just unpleasant to all of you? Drugs? Alcohol? Does he have friends he sees outside of baseball?
  7. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Yes, I agree with MidwestMom that his social life outside of sports would be an interesting clue to Asperger's...
  8. KeepingitTogether

    KeepingitTogether New Member

    Wow...thank you so much for the replies. It's all so overwhelming, but good for me to consider. In reply to a few questions, my sons social life outside of school consists of snowboarding with friends, Youth Group (yes, he actually likes to go!, he really relates to the leader)and he stays the night quite a bit with a close friend of his (whose family we know well). My kids have gone to a very close knit Charter School K-8, and he is close with a group of friends from there still. Some who have moved on to the same High School together. Good Boys, A students, no drugs, straight laced familes, and we do things together. Quite frankly, there has been little availability for my son to enter into the world of drugs or alchohol since up until this point in life I know who/where he is and with most all of the time. (We do not keep any alcohol in the home either.) But I am not blind to the fact that kids are kids, and if they are looking for something, they will find it. So, this of coarse will be my concern with him in High School, since it is normal to give more freedom as he grows.
    In regard to my son experiencing any trauma as a child, we can not think of anything that stands out, and we had gone over this with his councelor. He has never been in trouble with the law, or even school for that matter. I hate to say it, but I am a stay at home mom raising a family of 4, my husband has worked consistantely for 21 years at the same company, his hours have always been the same and our routine of life has hardly changed. My son has just from the get go, been a difficult child. I can not, for the life of me, think of any event or time that he was out of my site where something tragic may have happened. As for school, he has never experienced any delays, and is still an average to above average student. With attitude..ha.
    Let's see, another question asked was regarding the testing. He was tested at a well know facility in our area, but the testing was done answering questions on a computer, then some discussion with a person (can't remember her title), it lasted 2 hrs. During the following week the PsychDoctor elvaluated the outcome of the paperwork , gave his findings/thoughts to the counselor. And then we tried to work with him for the following months...
    By the way, I have with-held privelges for years, still do. I just took his phone away when he decided to tell me he hated me. When I do, there is usually a time frame for the privelege withheld. NOTHING seems to have worked in all these years. It doesn't seem to bother him!
    I will also plan to read more on possible re-testing of a more indepth kind as stated by InsaneCdn. Hope this gives more insight to the situation at hand and I would love to hear from any of you...thanks.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Well, just because he has consistent friendships can't still mean he isn't Aspie. The groups sound like things you have orchestrated, rather than relationships he has initiated. There is a big difference.
    I'd go with-that until proven otherwise. Maybe check out a few Aspie books at the library to give you some insight, and ideas on discipline.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Any Aspergers or psychiatric problems on either side of his genetic family tree? That can help, knowing what's there.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    To be more specific, here's some good reads that might help:
    1) The Explosive Child by Ross Greene - a different approach to parenting challenging kids that has been helpful to some of us around this board
    2) Be Different by John Elder Robinson - a guide for parents and others dealing with Aspies (written by an Aspie)
    3) Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robinson - his bio, very interesting read, provides insight into HOW an Aspie thinks

    Tell me when you're done those, and I'll give you another list... (if you like to read...)
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You need a good neuropsychologist. In order to fully evaluate someone, testing lasts six to twelve hours, broken up in several sessions. My son, at age ten, had twelve hours over four weeks wiith various professionals. We didn't have a neuropsychologist, but a developmental pediatrician. This dev pediatrician didn't do all the testing himself. His office had many different psychologists/psychometrists and 2 dev peds. A psychometrist is someone with graduate school training in how to admin and interpret psychological tests. After every member on his team had tested him (each of the dev peds had a team they worked with, both teams had the same type of professionals), and had a week to go over all the results, the team came together in what they called 'staffing' (no clue why they used that name) and they spent several hours discussing what they saw in their testing, and what they saw in the results and reports they had read, and in what was in the file they had me fill out. Then they set a diagnosis and a course of treatment to start with.

    Around here that is called a multidsciplinary evaluation and it can be as helpful as a good neuropsychologist evaluation. You often find this type of evaluation (multi disc) at large children's hospitals. we just lucked out and that is what the doctor we found when we moved to htis state did as his normal routine way of handling new patients.

    A good neuropsychologist probably does many of the same tests, and then gives the same kind of report to you and the dr who did the referral. THey tend to leave treatment to the referring dr or another psychologist/psychiatrist. Or that is what I have heard.

    How is your son with animals? Does he like to set fires? I am not as convinced this is asperger's, but it could have an aspie twist/flavor. My difficult child was good at one behavior with one person/set of people, and another with other people, but he could not very well change his behavior/attitude toward one group if they were with the other. He would not have been able to pull of 'perfect son' in public around his peers or teachers or whatever group. the attitude toward us, and the violence, were usually there regardless of who was around.

    I don't have any real clue what is going on with him. I really hope and pray that you can figure it out. I am not sure there is any effective way to teach empathy though. I truly hope you have your other children ALL in therapy to teach them to cope with him and what he says to them. His belittling is sibling abuse, and is just as much abuse as if he beat them up daily. They ALL, even the ones who seem to handle it well, NEED therapy in a major way.
  13. HaoZi

    HaoZi CD Hall of Fame

    I'm with susie - this doesn't really have an Aspie flavor to me either but something is going on and really needs a full evaluation to find out what is going.
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'm not totally convinced it's Aspie either - or at least, not "just" Aspie.
    The reason I suggested some really good Aspie books is that sometimes they resonate - and sometimes just reading makes it obvious that something isn't a fit.
    But only a really good comprehensive evaluation will bring answers, and even at that, it can take multiple evaluations, because problems come in layers.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    He sounds too manipulative to be an Aspie to me. Sounds more, in my layman's opinion, like conduct disorder.
  16. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi sorry I missed your post! Welcome. You've received great ideas! It can take a long time to sort things out, hope you can find some people to help you dig deeper etc. How was he as a baby? Colicky? Preemie? Frequently ill? Sometimes we just don't know. Kids are simply wired differently. Wherever you find ideas to help that match his learning and temperament, great! Whether more Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) slanted or behavior mod.....whats important is what works for him (and you). by the way, walks, bus rides home, and other times where we know where and with whom...seem to be some of the most classic times to try stuff. I have a smart, really good nephew who we just figured out was using pot, his cousin, my othet nephew (they're like brothers) of the same grade let the cat out of the bag. Grades and how nice or even compliant they are really doesn't matter these days, I wish it did! Sometimes I'm grateful for my son needing 1:1 adult supervision at all times.....(only sometimes, lol)

    by the way, has anyone suggested The Explosive Child by Ross Greene? His website is also helpful. Good ideas for kids like ours who for many reasons do not respond to typical parenting discipline.
  17. KeepingitTogether

    KeepingitTogether New Member

    I have been so busy, but could not wait to get back and see your responses. Looks like I might want to read The Explosive Child..thank you for that suggestion! And yes, I do think my oldest daughter has suffered greatly by the belittlement and could use counseling, just the mention of it has it on the forefront of my mind.

    As for the birth of my son, just before he was born, they could not find a heartbeat, the nurses twisted and turned my body and just couldn't find one, so they put me on all fours, and rushed me down to delivery. I did deliver naturally, with induction. As I've mentioned before, he has had no developmental delays.

    I will read about Aspbergers, as this is new to me. Even if it is not the case, I will be aware of the similarities, thank you. And I will think about getting a re evaluation with a neurpsychologist, something more in depth. At this age though, it will be hard to get him to comply.

    Interesting insight TerryJ2 as far as groups of freinds. I'd never thought of it that way. My husband and I are also being somewhat careful in who we allow him to be with in this new year at a new high school also. As we think he would easily be attracted to the wrong people. Even now we somewhat orchestrate who he is going to be with and who he is not.

    Lots to think about, I will try to find the book and repost when I read it.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Okay, please do get back with us.

    Just a brief comment--I bought a bunch of books on Asperger's a few yrs ago and decided that the interventions that were suggested would pretty much work for anything, regardless of diagnosis, sort of like The Explosive Child, or What The Explosive Child is trying to tell you.

    One thing that takes a long time, but really works with-my son, is to actually explain the "why" of something, instead of "because I told you so." The problem is that you will be dragged into an argument, but you have to learn to say, "End of discussion. I'm sorry you don't like my explanation." But explanations do help prevent blowups.
    Ex, "We are stopping by the grocery store because I need more lettuce for sandwiches," instead of, "Because we need to go to the store."

    Also, pay attention to how literal he is. For ex, if you change your route, and go to the post ofc instead of the grocery store first, does he throw a fit?
  19. had_enough

    had_enough New Member

    Hi Dear,

    I'm so sory to hear about what you'v been through.
    If I may, I would also ecourage a research about narcisism.
    I am nobody, so I cannot suggest that your son is a narcissist or an aspie.
    I can only tell you my experience, being a mom of 2 boys
    one of 13 diagnosed with mild adhd
    and one of 11 diagnosed with aspergers
    it is my 13 year old that seems to be a twin of your 14 year old troubled son.
    I would also keep in mind that they afterall are still kids
    and still have a chance to improve something.
    My 13 year old has very strong narcissistic feature
    he is extremely manipulative, doesn't feel at all that his behaviour can hurt people around him,
    when he decides to criticise someone he does it in a horrible distructive way
    when someone makes him apologise you can see he doesn't really feel it.
    He also reputes himself an extremely unfortunate person, so his whining and his tantrums make a sort of a wafer with which we (his family) have somehow learnt to cope with.
    I strongly feel that his brother (an aspie) has far more empathy than him and is, at last at times, able to really! apologise.
    This, because he accepted that he has a problem and accepted the fact that he has to create all these bypasses in order to have a better relationship with his friends, classmates and also with his family. A narcissist doesn't feel the need to change even when the evidence of such need is in front of his eyes. That's why coulcelors give up on them.
    The fact that your son wouldn't reveal his true self even to the councelor is a tipical narcissistic sign, most of them even try to seduce theese figures in order to maintain the idea they have of themselves, my son said to his councelor that in family we treat him as a slave and that he has to endure endlesse attacs from his hanicaped brother. Fortunately the councelor was an expert and proposed to my son to live away from home in a comunity for abused was only then that my son realized how far his endless manipulations could take him and started to fell the need to change.
    I would also exlude that yous son is an aspie because he does well in a team sport, my aspie son cannot cope with the team pressure and is also incapable of a consistent social conversation, basicly he cannot do the normal talk like 'hay mate, how are you.. what hou've been up to etc...he appears to be ackward and repetitive. Most kids get fed up with him for it, so he has only few real mates and would never be able to pass for a 'normal kid' in a ball team.
    Yet, at times I feel that my apsie son might have a better chance to have a happy fulfilling life than my other 'apparently normal' son, who would rather die than admit that he is everthing but perfect. He wears a mask 95% of his day, when he puts it away for some microseconds we are there for him and he somehow feels it. The onnly thing that I have learnt over the year is to stop talking when they don't listen and to open the umbrella whe the **** hits the fan.
    ps: sorry to rub it in, but I think that part of the problem are also the fathers who are so so nice to the world and so incapable of disciplining theese boys in true need of guidance. Are we (moms) supposed to guide theese teen boys? I think if we try it's only worse..

    a huge hug from Italy
    let us know how it's going
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, had_enough.

    This is an old thread.
    Please start your own new thread, and tell us a bit about yourself and your difficult child (more than one, by the sounds of it!) You will get more response that way.