Does Your difficult child have Trouble with "Nice - ness" ?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaisyFace, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Yesterday, I took difficult child shopping with me at the grocery store. We arrived kind of late in the day and as we walked through the front door, I saw that their display of the big "sale item" was empty. I went immediately and started checking throught he boxes, just in case there might have been one left behind...but no such luck.

    A gentleman saw me and offered me his. He said he'd grabbed the last one, but he was offering it to me. Are you sure? I don't wanna take yours...

    Well, he insisted and he made my day! I thanked him profusely.

    Meanwhile, difficult child had been kind of standing aside, just watching. After the gentleman left, she walked over to me and whispered "Boy, I really hate it when people are nice like that."

    What? What do you mean?

    difficult child explained that she doesn't know what to do when somebody is "nice". She feels that it's weird or creepy, somehow, because these people seem to be acting nice for no reason. That guy didn't ask for money or anything!

    I tried explaining that it feels good to be nice and when someone is nice to you, you are supposed to "pay it forward" by being nice to others.

    difficult child complained that she IS nice, REALLY nice [**cough, cough** but that's another thread] but it doesn't work that way for her because people are not nice back.

    I was really surprised to hear this. Do you think it's a perception problem? difficult child never seems to understand that her behaviors are rude, aggressive, and hurtful to others....and is confused when others are nice?

    It makes me wonder whether difficult child views every, daily interaction as a battle, somehow. I've-gotta-get-them-before-they-get-me.

    Is your difficult child this way?
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    VERY interesting. Great interaction.
    My son is extremely embarrassed by any social interaction. If I roll down the car window to ask a stranger for directions, he totally freaks out. I can't believe my right arm is still in the socket.
    His perception has always been different from mine. I don't know if it's his cognitive abilities in regard to not picking up on social cues, or his anxiety, or a combination.
    I have told him over and over that certain things are not only okay, they're good. But all he gets is that if a stranger wants to give him a quarter for the gumball machine (which a woman did once, right in the middle of my trying to discipline him) then that's okay. But if it's anything else, then you run and hide.
    I hope others here have better insights.
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    "But that's the way I talk to EVERYBODY!!!"

    Yeah, Onyxx does have issues with perception. Seems to not understand why we get upset when she uses a nasty tone to us.

    Or maybe it IS the "get-them-before-they-get-me" mentality... She has been "gotten".
  4. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Yeah, LittlePeace is the same way. It seems like he gets upset whenever someone is being "nice", but only if that person is not being "nice" to HIM. On my birthday last year, my DF brought me home presents and cooked dinner for all of us and a cake, but LittlePeace wanted to know where HIS presents were.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Miss KT struggled with this during junior high and high school...she didn't seem to realize how witchy her tone of voice was, and she had no clue of how to be "nice" or even why one would want to be, unless she wanted something, of course.

    Once she started college, she got a lot better. Either she finally grew up enough to catch a clue, she saw politeness in action from someone other than parents, or finding a new set of friends that weren't smelly little skatepunks...don't know, but I'll take the improvement.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I wish my difficult child were more articulate and forthcoming with his "aha!" moments of perception and concepts. For example, when he finally grasped the concept of "others" having rights or privileges that were totally unconnected or disconnected or irrelevant to him.
    I just remember it eventually got easier ...
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I dont know. For some reason my kids have always been fairly nice and polite in public. Maybe its that southern thing. Everyone grows up holding doors for older folks and saying Ma'am and Sir. Cory can be a total jerk but he will let older folks in front of him in a grocery line or even help them load their car. Dunno.
  8. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Kiddo expects everyone else to be nice, but doesn't get why they're not so nice after she's been blatantly rude/mean/acting out, etc. Claims no one is nice to her so why should she, blah blah blah. But she's also capable of being exceedingly polite, considerate, and thoughtful. She's inconsistent with it though, and never stops to consider that hey... so-and-so might just be having a bad day, or isn't feeling good, or whatever.
  9. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I think a lot of our kids don't develop the insight needed to be aware of how they sound or are treating others until well past the age of norm (if ever). I also think there is a perception problem - my difficult child doesn't pick up so much on body language and tone, and if you are irritated and use an irritated tone she calls it yelling. I used to think that my difficult child was just mean to everyone because that's just the way she was, but I've come to realize over the years that she just doesn't get it. She has gotten better in some areas, not so much in others, but there is progress. It's just very slow.
  10. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Actually... has your difficult child ever been evaluated for sensory problems? Seriously! It can affect one's perceptions as in the world seems like a very unfriendly place.
  11. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    As you know, I've LONG thought that difficult child was an aspie - BUT none of the professionals we've dealt with over the years has ever considered that possibility. I DO think there are sensory issues, perception issues, she definitely has trouble "reading" people, and making extrapolations based on past experience...

    But I'm just a parent - what do I know?
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    And ain't that the bottom line, really.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What can help, probably the only thing that can help, is role play coupled with positive reinforcement. Use every example as a learning opportunity, just as you did today. Praise her for being able to explain how she feels - it's not easy to admit to such stuff and she articulated it very well.

    The only way an Aspie can learn, is by lesson and practice. For example, difficult child 3 often asks me to get his lunch for him but asks tersely. "Mum - food."
    husband's response is, "Whose dog are you ordering about?" which actually doesn't help. What works better is a reminder. "Try again, but ask nicely." Or if he need more specific instruction I will say, "Mum, please will you get me some lunch?" and wait for him to repeat it after me, at which point I say, "Certainly, son, you asked me so nicely. It will be a pleasure."
    We make fun out of it, treat it pleasantly (light, not not trivial) and the lesson is more easily learned. I am getting through to him.

    Interestingly, mother in law who can be very obtuse with him sometimes, has often been the one to make some interesting breakthroughs using exactly this technique. Every night we go to her place for dinner (I cook mostly). difficult child 3 often turns up lat. mother in law insists he greet her politely on arrival. She prefers him to speak first with, "Hello, grandma." If she has to say, "Hello, difficult child 3" first, she makes it clear by her manner and tone that he ws too slow in speaking first. Mostly she makes eye contact with him and holds it - it is enough now for him to remember. I've also prompted with discreet hand signals behind mother in law's back, to difficult child 3 to not forget to greet his grandma.

    When he was little and mostly non-verbal. it was mother in law who used to say to him, "I love you, difficult child 3." Every time. And then one day, he said it back. "I love you." It was almost certainly echolalia (repeating back what he had just heard), but he said it to HER. She had put in the effort with him and was well rewarded. Justly rewarded. It was another year I think, before one day he came to me, put his head on my leg for a minute, and said, "I love you, Mummy." By that time he was well into an every-time ritual of exchanging "I love you"s with his grandma.

    What are grandmas for?

  14. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Your examples are strikingly familiar!

    For instance, every day when difficult child arrives home from school - she simply comes in the door and goes to her bedroom or the kitchen or whatever...and for years, I have been reminding her that she should say "Hello!" or "I'm home!" or something like that. To this day, she doesn't "get" why she should say anything.

    And the "Love you"s ? husband, DS and myself are pretty free with the "I love you"s. But difficult child? Always gets suspicious or tense or irritated. If somebody says 'OK, see you guys later! I love you!' difficult child will respond with "But I'm not a guy!" so then we change it to "OK, I love you guys AND difficult child" to which she will then respond "That's better!".

    It would be nice to get an "I love you, too" one of these days....
  15. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    That's exactly it!!!

    Onyxx does not tell us she is home - we rely on either hearing her, hearing the door or checking. And now? Jett does not either. We finally repeated the gotta-hug-the-parents-before-I-go-see-mom enough that we usually know when he leaves... But not always.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I do not know how common this is, but Wiz had a lot of it. Not so much a problem being nice to people on his terms, which was fairly often if you didn't live in his home. He got the difference between talking, scolding/discussing a problem, and yelling fairly early for a difficult child but had to be reminded often until he was about 9 or 10. Part of this is because until around then my husband called any discussion of a problem or argument "yelling". If I said that he had not done X and could he explain why when we usually did X or I specifically asked him to do it, husband would say that I was "yelling" at him even if I was actually whispering. It drove me crazy because it gave a very different opinion to those who didn't know this. He was the only male in an office with 6 other women and at one point one commented that my voice must be tired from yelling at husband so much. She wasn't criticizing - was actually joking, but I was upset. After we left I asked him why his coworkers thought I yelled all the time. It was about 2 yrs since I had started making a very conscious effort to NOT raise my voice to anyone no matter how upset I was. I did this because I read that raised voices can make a child feel attacked and can lead to more acting out because their adrenaline is at a higher level. So I was really upset that husband thought I was yelling all the time.

    That is when I learned that any disagreement that I expressed was thought of as yelling by my husband. I talked to him about it and he claimed to "get it" but didn't seem to. So I actually yelled at him for part of an evening. I yelled hello, how was your day, we're having pasta for dinner, etc.... Then I spoke in a normal voice and asked him if he liked to be spoken to that way. He did NOT. I asked him if that was how I spoke to him when I was angry, upset or disagreed with him over something. Well, no, I didn't. I asked him if he wanted me to speak like that when I was angry, upset or when I disagreed with him. No, he sure did not.

    Then I asked him if he would like it if I told everyone I spoke to that he yelled at me when really he was just speaking in a normal voice but he wasn't agreeing with me? He said I couldn't do that because people would think he abused me!! I asked what they were supposed to think about me when he told them I yelled and really I was disagreeing with him?? He got very very quiet then. He apologized and the very next day he told his coworkers that he was sorry and about what he really meant all those times he said I yelled at him.

    Wiz did not take nearly so long, but he had to go through it often. Wiz got a real kick out of getting to within five inches of my ear and then yelling as loud as he could and esp loved it when I had a migraine and would then barf. The ONLY thing that got him to stop was doing it to him. Even then if he was angry with me he would do it when I had a migraine. That only stopped when I involuntarily barfed on him. And didn't apologize or clean him up.

    Wiz also did NOT perceive praise when it was said to him. Maybe register is a better word. He heard the words, knew they were positive and sort of knew that good things were said about him, but they didn't seem to be understood as we were proud of him that he did a good job of whatever it was and that we were happy with him. Those only registered if we said them to someone else. It was hard because all he ever told us was that we never praised him or thought he did a good job of anything but we praised the other kids, the cat and each other all the time - so why could he never do anything right/good?

    I was flabbergasted. Totally without words (rare for me, as I am sure you have guessed, lol). After that I would call my mom, husband at work, a friend, or even pick up the phone and just pretend to call someone. Then all those rewards for praise started happening - you know, your child doing the action you praised instead of the action you did not praise or told him not Occupational Therapist (OT) do, the big smile on the kid's face because he made you happy/proud, those rewards. We had to do the third party praise for about 3-4 years before he was able to hear praise said to him. It wasn't just praise from us taht he didn't hear. It was praise from anyone.

    I think our kids don't read body language or process ANY communication in the way that neurotypical people do. Once we learn what they DO perceive and how it is different from what others perceive we have a real chance of communicating with them.

    DF, your daughter has many aspie traits, in my opinion, but likely won't ever be diagnosis'd because she has learned to mimic other's behavior, to tell the doctor what they want/expect to hear and because we still don't fully understand how girls express aspie-ism at various stages of development. Those who DO understand more about aspie girls are few and far between also, which makes your difficult child getting this as a diagnosis is pretty low.

    Now that you realize how she perceives being nice, her own interactions and tone of voice, and the rest of the world (Do unto others before they do unto you probably makes a LOT more sense to your daughter than Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.), you have a chance to start getting her to understand what you want her to do and how you want her to behave.

    In essence, she has given you a key to her world. You can use this key to start understanding how she sees the world and interacts with it. She really expressed herself well when she told you what she did. It is different than how Wiz or my husband sees the world, but you can still meet her at her world and begin to teach her how to function in your world. Think of this statement as your Rosetta Stone for deciphering her.

    in my opinion there should be some reward given to her for letting you know what she was thinking. Not sure what, or how to explain it, but this info is invaluable.
  17. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I haven't gotten an "I love you" in years. I say it to her and sometimes she'll say, "K", and that's the best I'm going to get. We've talked about it and, basically, she doesn't know what to do with that. Maybe on a day where my thoughts are in better order I can explain it - or at least my difficult child's perception of it.

    When she was little she was always looking for hugs and kisses, and saying "I love you".

    Have you seen Inception? difficult child and I watched it last night. It's a mind bender and you really have to focus to keep up and understand what's going on - and you still find yourself with only a faint grasp of it. I think that is what it is like to be one of our kids - very confusing, and hard to keep up with what's going on.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It is good to model it for them - necessary. But sometimes you need to do more, and repeatedly prompt. But always make sure you do it in love, with fun, and with a smile. "Honey - that wasn't quite up to standard. Let's try this again."
    If they growl or complain, quietly ask them why it grates. Their feelings about it are legitimate, but they are misleading them. They need help to learn to recognise which feelings are valid and which ones are leading them astray. Lessons in social skills can follow, but it's Basket B - back off if they get too irritable. But as you back off, give the equivalent of a hug and say, "It's OK, we'll leave it there."

    It's like the talk I had with difficult child 3 yesterday after I got the results of his neuropsychologist assessment - I said, "Honey, the results confirm what we both know - you are one of the smartest people around. But it also shows why you feel like it's all a huge struggle. It's not fair, but life is not known for its fairness. However, if we all work together we can find ways to help you use that brain of yours more effectively. You can't keep carrying on like you can do it all unaided - you need supports. It's okay to need supports. You wer glasses and you didn't think at first you would need them all the time. But you soon found that with the glasses, you can find your way around without tripping over things. It's wonderful to be able to look into the distance and see fine detail, it's hard to take off the glasses and give tat up. With your brain and learning supports, it's like putting on those glasses. Life will continue to be unfair, and school a huge struggle, if you do not work with us in this and use te supports that are available. Let's turn things around together, and make it more fair."

    I had to do this in stages, making sure he understood at each level. But that's the gist of it. I also had to make sure I had eye contact and computer game paused so I could ensure his attention. As it is, I'll have to say it again and again over the next few months!

    Our kids need to be taught more formally. They will never pick up social skills by osmosis, the way other people do.

    As for the "I love you"s, what can help is not to worry about hearing "I love you" directed at you, but help her rehearse it for someone else. These kids have difficulty identifying/analysing their own emotions, they are often in such jumbled turmoil. As we say here, it is okay and understandable sometimes to love someone, but not always like them. Conflict does not mean hatred. In fact, especially with teen girls, conflict can be a way to communicate - they do not intend to fight, they just want to understand and the result of their probing and arguing (to find the edges of the rules) is frustration and anger from the parent, and stubborn insolence/hurt from the child. All teens do it but especially girls, it seems. And Aspie girls make a bigger mess of it!

    So - model it. Practice it. Role-play it. And do it with a sense of humour. As you do this, recognise that if you do not do this, she will take a lot longer, maybe forever, to learn this stuff.

    As I said to difficult child 3 - life is not fair.