My 14 year Old had no empathy

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 071802, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. 071802

    071802 New Member

    There is no short way to tell my story, so here goes!
    My 14 year old daughter lacks empathy, she does not feel like she does anything wrong when she hurts peoples feelings by being nasty to them. I have 3 children, 14, 10, and 6 years old. My daughter is the oldest then 2 boys. She had never engaged with them, she never wants to spend time with us.Sur has always felt (before teenage years) that spending any time with us was torture, and nobody would enjoy being together with her. So sadly we do things without her, she is delighted with this, but I wish we could include her. She spends all of her time in her bedroom with no human contact. She has always been difficult, growing up no consequence worked. Despite my relentless explaining of things, feelings, empathy, love, care, family, she still doesn’t understand what I’m talking about. She constantly belittles us all, using memes or just generally laughing when we make mistakes. 2 years ago my eldest son almost died, it was an accident, however it was ultimately my daughters fault, she still to this day does not show any empathy about it at all. She lied to the police about what happened too. She feels like she is ‘broken’ because she doesn’t care, and can’t feel empathy. She is exceedingly accademic, top of her class, and she aspires to be a surgeon. However this contradicts how she treats people her lack of caring, her lack of empathy.
    None of my friends understand. I have had her at a counselor, and my daughter would just crack jokes, and be confindent, and after 2 months the counselor told me that my daughter did not need to go back. I got her a referral to our local psychological team for teenagers. My daughter was diagnosed with anxiety, and given some self help methods to use at home. Living with her is very very different to how she makes herself appear at these sessions. I don’t know how else to help us, as a family, help my daughter. My boys, my husband, myself (I’m a carer) do not act anything like her, so I believe that there is something going undiagnosed. But I do not know what. Can anybody help?
  2. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    071802, I know the word psychopath is scary to all of us but if I were you I would read all you can on this disorder. My daughter is a part time psychopath, meaning she is horribly ugly only while manic, she was not born that way. There are many psychopaths among us, and if that is the case you have to protect yourself and your family. Don't wait to take action, I would question that accident your son had and search that out completely. If you think she did it on purpose you have to take action right away or she will continue. If she got away with it there will be no hold back from the next time. Do not let her have a next time.
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  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You might look into having her tested by a neuropsychologist. This is a psychologist with special training in the brain. The testing often takes 10-12 hours over several sessions and can find disorders that regular psychologists and psychiatrists might miss or misdiagnose.

    Your description of her makes me think of very high functioning autism, to be honest. She doesn't seem to understand the need for emotions or connections with others, and that can seem like a psychopath or it can be autism. It is one reason that it is so hard to diagnose someone without testing and special training. You can find neuropsychologists at Children's Hospitals or University Hospitals, usually.

    Not all people with autism seem to have problems. Once my oldest was in high school, NO ONE except family knew he had a form of autism. The school had the diagnosis, but it just didn't appear socially or at school. Many teachers found it hard to believe. I have met people with autism who are not strongly impacted, but are impacted enough to have the diagnoses. They just cover it well when around others. Your daughter's behavior reminds me of this.
  4. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Hi there,

    If you suspect (or know for fact) that daughter has harmed others, people or animals, then I would be concerned that her issues go beyond being wired a bit differently. It sounds like there was a situation involving her brother for which she was responsible, from what you write. Depending on the circumstances this could be very concerning, as is the fact that she seems to be able to put on a convincing act in front of professionals but then act very differently (I assume, much worse) at home. Usually folks with autism will present consistently across settings, for example the therapist would also notice the same things seen in the home. From what you write this isn’t the case with your daughter.

    Do you trust her with her siblings and any pets you may have? Is she violent, does she express thoughts of hurting others?
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree with B &B. Autistics don't hurt people and have empathy. They just can tend to look stoic a far cry from harming somebody. My autistic son and many others I met through an autism group were not lacking in empathy...were basically TOO sensitive and would cry if they hurt someone and it was norally by accident. Even if she is on the spectrum that doesn't seem to explain the stuff she does.

    You can't diagnose psychopathy before eighteen but the signs can be there before that. Be on your guard.

    All autistic people present differently. My own son is 24 and he is the first to get overly upset if anyone is sick or hurt tears included.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Autistics don't read faces well, which makes them not understand other people's emotions. It is very hard to have empathy when you just don't have a clue what is going on or why everyone is upset with you all the time or excluding you or insisting you do things you don't understand.

    Sometimes those with autism have a VERY hard time showing what they feel, or even KNOWING what they are feeling. I still have to have my 18 year old use 1 finger to tell me where he hurts if more than one place hurts. Wiz knew other people had feelings, but it was a VERY abstract concept for very many years. This isn't because he is a sociopath or psychopath, but because he couldn't make the connection to understand that everyone feels things, just not the same thing he feels at the same time he feels it. It took until late in his teens for him to truly, deeply grasp that the adults he trusts say that this is true. He is willing to operate as if this is true, though I still wonder if he truly grasps it.

    My mom explains not getting the social rules as being color blind. You can end up wearing strange outfits if you don't find some coping tools. I think many autistics don't have enough coping tools and end up lashing out when they are really just frustrated. Not that I think autistic people don't need self control also, of course. But not all people with autism are gentle and happy.

    SWOT, you are lucky to have a sweet and gentle son. I think some of that is due to his having autism and lots to your parenting. You could have indulged and babied him and turned him into a spoiled brat with autism. You don't take enough credit! Not all of those with autism have that personality. Autism is a neurological condition but it doesn't determine your personality. People with autism have personalities and traits that run the entire spectrum. I am glad to say that my son is sweet now, but he was violent as a child for many years. I think we saw different ends of that spectrum of traits. People with autism can be anywhere on it, not just at the nice end.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Another thing occurred to me. Does your daughter have a preference for certain textures, sounds, volumes of sound, motions, odors, etc... Things she MUST have or MUST NOT have? Is she a demanding or picky eater? Has she always been?

    The social isolation, not wanting anyone around, not wanting to go and do things with the whole family can be signs of something called Sensory Integration Disorder. This means that your brain doesn't process input from your senses in the typical way. You seek out the stimuli that is pleasurable and avoid what is not. The big problem with this disorder is that it can feel like the entire world is attacking you all at one time. For example, I don't go to malls often. I loathe them as a whole. The odors used in the stores literally make me gag and leave me with a migraine. Sometimes the smells from certain stores are so strong I can even taste them and they taste even worse than they smell! The lighting always feels like it is coming at me because it is just too bright. If I walk through a clothes department, so many of them are of textures that literally make me shudder and make my skin crawl. The music usually makes it impossible for me to talk to anyone with me. The only other sensory group is proprioception, which relates to how your body is positioned and how it is moving. Malls don't mess with that for me. What I described above? That is a GOOD day in a mall. A bad day isn't worth thinking about. I would rather gouge out my eyeballs and pour hot oil in the sockets than go in the mall when I am having a bad sensory day.

    If you think there could be some elements of sensory integration disorder to your daughter's problems, the expert to seek out is an Occupational Therapist. At your daughter's age, with good grades, I doubt your school will have her see their's. Instead, you might as the neuropsychologist which occupational therapy practice he recommends. Otherwise, google for one experienced in sensory integration disorder. There ARE ways to treat it. GOOD ways.

    The first way to treat it is to provide a sensory diet. This is a mix of activities that provide the range of sensory input that her brain needs. Usually these are things that the person is drawn to or enjoys very much. I always had a lot of craft and hands-on or messy things for my kids to play with. When the therapist handed me the list of the toys that were right for the types of sensory diet that my son needed, we had about 75% of them (mostly thanks to my mother's over indulgence). The things my son wanted to do were what he needed to do. It does make it rather interesting that way.

    The other way to treat this is one that I was told was used only on children under 12. I think that is likely changing. If not, I don't think it can hurt to push or ask what it will harm to try on a child her age/ If it won't do anything, what is the loss? I was told that it would not hurt a child over that age, but it was a waste of time and energy. This therapy is called Brushing Therapy. It has been proven to change how the brain uses input from the senses. It uses zero medication, just a plain, dry, non-soaped surgical scrub brush or other similar brush. Don't try it until you are taught to do it by an Occupational Therapist though. If done incorrectly, it can cause very real problems.

    If you want to learn more about this disorder, read The Out-of-Sync Child by Kranowitz. It explains the disorder really well. If you want a book full of seriously FUN activities to do with your family, read The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, also by Kranowitz. It was written to help parents provide activities to help meet a sensory diet. The activities are truly fun. My family went through several copies of the book because we wore it out. Somehow every kid in the neighborhood would show up when I brought that book out to do an activity. I would start with my kids and before I got everything set up, kids would be everywhere, joining in. The author includes tips to make each activity less expensive, which I certainly appreciated. Even the adults enjoyed the activities and participated. That book (all the copies) made a lot of fun memories for us. Plus it was therapeutic for the kids and I (I have sensory integration disorder also, though I didn't know it until the kids were diagnosed). I realize your older daughter mightnot like the Has Fun book, but even without Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), the rest of the family might have a great time with it.
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  8. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    We don't want to overwhelm you, 071802. We are well-meaning internet strangers, not therapists or doctors. All we can do is share our own life experiences with you, for whatever those are worth.

    I will repeat again that if your daughter has harmed, may have harmed, or talks about harming other people or animals, to please take it seriously. You did not tell us exactly what occurred with your son, and you may wish to spare us those details simply to protect your privacy here, but based on your post it sounds like you suspect her of possibly harming him. It was serious enough that the police were called, so I would trust your instincts and keep a close eye on the situation. She may try it again if in fact she is driven to hurt others.

    I hope you and your husband are on the same page. When spouses disagree on whether a child is troubled and/or how to proceed in the situation, it can be disastrous for a marriage. I am living proof of that!

    Take good care and please stick around!
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Autistics don't read faces well. But they understand sad situations. If my son hears somebody is sick he is inconsolable.

    People who don't feel bad for others to me is not the same as those who may miss a social cue.

    So.. she may have autism but in my opinion, which is not a professional one, I would look for more than autism as the answer. I am very cautious!!
  10. Frieda

    Frieda New Member

    Hi 071802,
    like others here I see some similarities with Aspergers or maybe something else, but just from what we read no-one here can diagnose her. I hear that there is something different about her, and that it alarms you, and that she seems aware of it as well. I have been there, I knew my son was different and he told me he was different from others before he ever got a diagnosis. And some of those differences are really hard to deal and live with.
    Anyway, what helped me was to let go of the expectation of how a 'normal' child should be/act. The expectations hurt me and him. Noone can be who they are not. Getting her a neuropsychologist assessment might help her and you. It will give you and her a better idea of how she is different. And then you go from there to help her be the best she can be.
    It seems like you worry about her being a psychopath. You mentioned that she wants to be a surgeon, but feel it is contradicted by her lack of caring about people. It reminded me of reading that surgeons tend to have personality profiles that are high on self-confidence and low on caring about people. Maybe your daughter has found a way to channel her given personality into something great that will benefit society. Below is a link to an article I saw recently written by a scientist who figured out as an adult that he has psychopathic personality disorder. The article made me rethink what we assume about this disorder and what the prognosis is The Neuroscientist Who Discovered He Was a Psychopath | Science | Smithsonian
    Sending you cyberhuggs
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  11. 071802

    071802 New Member

    Hello everyone. I am genuinely touched by all of your concerns, humanity is a wonderful thing. Freida, you mentioned that what helped you and your child was letting go and what you thought fired into the ‘norm’ I am not there yet and expect her to think and do things that others of her age, i.e when I ask her to load the dishwasher, I expect her to know to switch it on once it’s full, she however doesn’t see how I would expect that. The accident with my son was an accident, however it was provoked by her. I just can’t believe that she doesn’t care about the fact that he almost died, that she actually almost didn’t have a brother anymore. My youngest son has sensory processing disorder (SPD), and has had multiple therapy sessions, he also has a weighted blanket, which is very very useful when he is having a meltdown. He is an avoider with his tactile sense, and eating has always been challenging. I feel sad that my daughter feels like she is ‘broken’ and ‘different’ and I don’t know what else to do to help. She has also had auditory and visual disturbances, the psychiatrist for teenagers said that she thinks the voice is my daughters own thoughts of anxiety, and that we need to get her an eye test to determin what they visual disturbances are. My daughter has asked me not to mention it to her dad (my husband) because she thinks he won’t understand. Thank you all so so so very much for all your insight, experiences, info, and suggestions. Please keep on my thread with me.
  12. Dory

    Dory Member

    Just sending a big hug,
    Look after YOU AND HUBBY.
    It shouldn't be this hard.xo
  13. Violet_Haze03

    Violet_Haze03 New Member

    As an autistic girl with an empathy score of 7 (out of 85) i think i might be able to relate to how your daughter feels. When you wake up in the morning, do you think about what people you have never met will have for breakfast? No, you don't. My lack of empathy is a direct result of my high fuctioning autism, and i remember having an episode where i did harm one of my friends and it only bothered me because my mother was angry. She talked about my empathy issues very much like you do in this post, and until i was able to understand why empathy wasn't on my radar, i was convinced i was a garbage human being because of how she talked about my lack of empathy. Don't force your daughter into empathy, if she doesn't have it, she never will. I only like being around one of my parents at a time, and if i had siblings i doubt i'd want to spend time with my whole family. You have to understand that having empathy for her is just as unnatural as no empathy for you. I'd often struggle to feel what others were feeling, and usually put on a fake mask of confidence and however i was supposed to act so i would be accepted. Outside of my home i was funny, sweet, confident, and bright. I only realized that i wasn't broken when i discovered the unempathic side of my autism. But at home, my mom would point everything i missed. I can't say for sure, but your daughter sounds far more like an aspie than a psychopath or anything else. Autistic Girls are usually the ones who are good at masking what's actually going on, and i can attest to that. Read up and take notice of other little things, that's the best place to start.
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  14. 071802

    071802 New Member

    Thank you so much for your input. I need to take her to see if we can get her tested for autism. I will definitely be able to help when we have an answer. It is not easy living like this for any of our family. From what everybody is saying of their experiences, it does sound like she could be automation of some sort. Thank you again.