Can point of view be taught? A theory-of-mind question

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by trinityroyal, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    The Background:

    Ever since the Monster Tot twins were born I've observed Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-ish behaviours in both of them. Different ones from each, but fairly consistent with mine, difficult child's and Little PCs. However, since Tyrannosaur's speech has gotten more fluent over the last several months I've noticed a quirk he has that I haven't seen in the other children.

    My tiny-giant Tyrannosaur seems to have difficulty distinguishing Point-of-View, as in whether something is happening to him or to someone else. Here are a few examples:

    He falls down and bangs his knee. He then looks at me and says, "Are you okay Mummy?"
    He sees a car from husband's model collection, and says (referring to himself), "He likes the car."
    Tyrantina calls him from the other room. He says, "I'm coming B." (Using his own name)
    If he's been upset and has been comforted, he says, "Do you feel better?" to whoever has been comforting him.

    My Questions:

    I feel a bit out of my depth with this, as it's not something that any of the other children have done and I have no experience with it.
    Can point of view be taught?
    Are there specific therapies for this?
    Will it work itself out eventually if I just keep reinforcing, "You're B. Twin sister is P. Big Brothers are A and M, Big Sister is C." etc.?

    Have any of you parents of children on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum run into something like this? Any advice?

    I haven't gone down the diagnostic road with the twins yet, as their Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-ish tendencies haven't impaired their development up until now. Also, at 2 1/2, they're a bit young for diagnostics to be clear-cut. But I'm wondering whether this will be something that may cause difficulties for Tyrannosaur down the road.

    Honestly, I don't really know what I'm asking, other than: What do you think?

  2. keista

    keista New Member

    He's 2. in my opinion, at this moment, it's nothing more than a language learning phase. I'm not a pro, and the pros may say otherwise, but at 2 I wouldn't be too concerned. I also think this may be more of a language thing than point of view thing, unless you truly feel he thinks that you actually got hurt when he did.

    My $0.02 is probably worth exactly that.
  3. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    This was EXACTLY my thought when I read your post, Trinity. So you now have 0.04 of a dollar. :)
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    And up to $0.06...

    It's possible that he does what I did when I was young. I considered my family as an extension of me - so if I was hurt, everyone else was; Tyrantina may be his "other half", being twins; and I still occasionally refer to myself in the third person.

    Also... Something I noticed with niece's oldest... She makes a big deal about his boo-boos getting better... So clearly, once HIS boo-boo is better, he must take care of HER issue, the one that caused her to overreact.

    I'd say keep an eye out, and keep reinforcing... But don't worry too much yet.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    At 2 lots of kids say things like "me fell down or Keyana fall down" Not using the appropriate "I fell down". Thats if they are talking clearly enough to understand With them being twins, it is possible that they have that strong connection that people talk about.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'll just toss a loonie into the pot and add ditto. MUCH more likely language development... and boys are sometimes just naturally slower at the language thing.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member


    However, yes, point of view can be taught. But it takes years. We are in the process. It's much like anything else with-our difficult child: he learns one circumstance, but doesn't extrapolate it unless we tell him he can or should.
  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone. All of your input makes sense.

    I'm not really at the "worried" stage yet, just watchful. It's not so much that he uses the wrong pronoun or whatever, which I expect from a 2-yr-old. It's that he seems to attribute his emotions not to himself but to whoever he's interacting with. It reminds me a bit of difficult child expecting people to know what's going through his mind, so he'll start in the middle of a thought rather than providing the background information. Actually, I still do that too sometimes.

    You're probably right that this may work itself out as he grasps the concept that he's a separate being from the rest of the clan. I'll keep an eye on it over the next several months, and start worrying if he's still doing this a year from now...

    And yes, the twin-bond between B and P is incredibly strong. They had their own language until they were about 18 months old, when they started to realize the benefits of speaking English so that the rest of us could also understand them. They still have a few twin-words but most of it is gone now.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    It's my understanding that true "Theory of Mind" does not fully develop until the age of 7 or 8....and that a certain amount of confusion over whether others know what you are thinking is pretty normal.
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks DF. Very good to know.
    I'll put this on the "keep an eye on it" back-burner for now.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    At the same time, because children are so enormously receptive, there is nothing to stop you gently pointing out (as you perhaps already do) that he is he, and his sister is his sister and you are you, etc. Particularly if you have a concern in that direction. I am sometimes amazed to hear my son quoting back to me something I said to him once, weeks before; everything we say to children has an impact, I believe.
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Now, this one I have seen A LOT! Yipee, can hopefully help a little. While there is always a chance there is a point of view issue as well, this is a common symptom (and yes can be in typical kids too but really common in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)). Kids hear the language they imitate and reverse the names and pronouns in a way that is sort of similar to echolalia. So you say over and over, Do you want me to hold you? The child when independently requesting to be held will say "hold you?" instead of "hold me?" Pronoun reversal is a common communication goal for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). PECS can help even with verbal kids who use these kinds of language structures because it gives you a visual way to show the structure of language. Most kids I have worked with have improved in this area with the exception of kids who have multiple challenges (those many call "lower functioning" but I really hate that term). It sounds like your kiddo has some nice language and it would be worth it to pursue an evaluation and start to work on this since the younger the better. If you did not suspect Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) I would say just model it and watch but since you do, it can be a problem that needs more direct intervention as many issues with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kiddos need.

    edit: I saw you wrote more...I wrote this after reading only your first post, re: attributing feelings as well... my son does that too. Again we use direct teaching for it, and it does follow his language so it gets confusing if it is feelings vs. language. you are so on top of the whole issue given all the family experience, you will probably be the best therapist (as parents are) anyway, so if you do pursue an evaluation and therapy most of the work will likely be what you will do anyway.

    Luckily there are MANY toddler level feelings books that can serve the function of "social stories" for kids that young. I am sure you have a ton of that stuff. Q and I played bandaid games as part of our therapy where we would look on arms and legs for a bruise or cut and put a bandaid on and talk about "mommy hurts" or "Q's owie".... of course that was when he was young....2-4ish.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Yes, it can be taught, but they have to be ready to learn. The brain has to be mature enough to understand the lesson.

    Its not just theory of mind, there are other things too. I remember back in my teacher training days, having to do Piaget testing on some kids as part of a report. I actually did a study on identical twins (about 6 years old) looking at conservation. I taped the sessions (cassette recorder) but there was a problem with the recording and I had to repeat the testing. But these two kids had, meantime, compared notes and they showed perfect conservation second time around where they hadn't the first time. Basically, my repeat testing was flawed and biased because these kids learned. Now, conservation is something that was not believed to be learnable, but these kids did it.

    In the same way, theory of mind can be taught. difficult child 3 knows it intellectually, but in moments of stress or when he has a lot to concentrate on, he snaps back to egocentricity.

    It's a matter of time, of effort and observation. You watch your child, you note areas where they may benefit from a bit of extra support and you do it. As parents, we can do a lot more for our kids than we often feel confident to. it's a matter of trusting yourself as a parent, to also be a therapist.

  14. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thanks Buddy and Marg, This has given me some ideas of a few other things I can try.

    Marg, you make a very good point about a child being cognitively ready. It's hard to tell with Tyrannosaur, because you can tell him something and it seems that he hasn't heard or understood you, but then 2 or 3 weeks later, he will say it back to you word perfect, in the right context. It's difficult to gauge his maturity in that area because a) there's not a lot of output on demand, and b) he's a mischievous little lad (gee, I wonder where he gets THAT from?)

    I will stay watchful, and I think I'll give difficult child's paediatric therapist and psychiatrist a ring to see whether it's worth taking the Monster Tots in for an informal assessment, if not a full evaluation to start with.

    Buddy, I will try the social story idea. My child-minder has also worked with young children on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum so I can coordinate with her too.

    Thank you so much for your input everyone. I do feel better knowing that I'm seeing something, but that there's something I can do about it.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting, Marg, about the repeat testing with-the twins.
  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I worked with this a lot when I taught early childhood autism. It may be some early echolalia. He is repeating what he hears but doesn't have the language skills to turn around the pronons/names so it comes out sounding off. Some role-play could help.

    You(to husband): How are you?
    husband: I am fine
    husband (to easy child): How are you?
    easy child: I am fine.
    easy child (to Rex): How are you?
    Rex: I am fine. (If he says 'you are fine' or 'rex are fine' then you model "I am fine.")

    At 2, I definitely would not worry, language development can be quirky even in non-Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids.
  17. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    ...Also... If he clearly understands what he is saying, but is just using the wrong words? Then it's definitely what JJJ is talking about. We're still working with Jett on one obvious one:

    Could you please pass the...??? Would you please get...??? May I please...???

    What comes out is - "May you please...???" - IOW, he's trying, and it makes sense to Jett, and we do know what he means - it's just matching pronouns with the words. At 2, Tyrannosaur will probably benefit more from the role play than Jett...
  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Tyrannosaur definitely has echolalia in large measure. He seems to have a storehouse of dialogue that he applies as the situation warrants, much of it from Thomas the Tank Engine.
    When he's running, he often says, "He's the fastest engine in the woorrrllld!"
    If he's done something naughty, he says, "Disgraceful! Disgusting! Despicable!" or "You have caused confusion and delay."

    I will speak to husband and start doing some of the role play with Rex (I LOVE that nickname, JJJ. It's brilliant).
  19. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Yup, this is exactly the sort of thing.

    Role play. I will add it to the list.
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Lol! He sounds like a 2 year old genius :)