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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5416
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My son, who is 15 years old and disabled with PDD on the autistic

Resolved Question:

My son, who is 15 years old and disabled with PDD on the autistic spectrum, has been printing pictures of bearded men. I found some in his room over the summer and I spoke with him at length to make sure he wasn't being bullied at school or there were no touching issues with another person. He has a girlfriend for the past few months and they seem happy. Today, I checked his phone and new photos showed up again. I checked the history on my computer and they were loaded up last night. Yesterday was his homecoming dance and he went with his girlfriend. My husband seems to think he may be gay. What do you think? We are Catholic and he may feel telling us is not the right thing, but we have told him we would love him regardless. I don't know what to do.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I would like to ask a few questions to get some more information, so that I can give you the best answer possible

Dr. Z :

You mention that the pictures were of bearded men, were they sexual at all? Like were the men not wearing shirt, naked, or was it just of their face and beard?

Dr. Z :

Also would you consider your son a strong Catholic?

Dr. Z :

In addition, does your son have self-confidence issues?

Customer:

There were about 10 or 12 pictures. Two I know were shirtless. Most were of the bearded face. Nothing naked that we found. His recent pictures were of just the face.He made his confirmation in April and he had been going to religious education since he was in kindergarten. He is a strong believer in God and the doctrine of the church yes.

Customer:

He does. He is 5'4'' and 165 pounds which makes him short and a bit portly. He is very sweet and everyone is nice to him at HS. I work there as a teacher and I have a lot of students that like me and they watch out for him. An example was last year a kid posted L dancing at a pep rally to be mean on Facebook. It was demanded removal within the hour of its post and was taken down. All of my students did it because they were mad. The person who posted it was given a lot of crap from kids in the school. He is not into sports and is giggly. We try to go to the gym to work our. He is in scouting which he has attained the rank of First Class. One of his friends invited him to join Karate with him and after his online class is done we will send him. I think it would be good for his self esteem. He as a 3.5 GPA so he is very smart with support. He has a 12 year old younger sister which he adores. Outside of school, he isn't very social except to go out with his girlfriend and he will go to school sports events. In the 8th grade he was voted as a supurlative the nicest person in his K-8 school.

Customer:

He is also a late bloomer. His voice is still high pitched with no facial hair. He does have pubic hair on his private parts, but non under his arm pits.

Dr. Z :

Okay there are some possibilities, he may look at these men as "attractive" or ideal and that is something that he wants to be, so it may not be a sexual thing for him, but something he wants to model off of. Many teenagers, especially those with Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) have self-esteem and identity issues and consistently try to or want to model themselves after what they perceive as an ideal person that others would be more open to

Customer:

He freaked when we spoke to him like his heart was going to jump out of his body. Maybe he feared he would get in trouble?

Dr. Z :

There is also possibility that he is curious about his sexuality, but given that the pictures were not overtly sexual, leads me to thinking this not the case here. Male pornography (pictures of videos) are readily available online, but he chose these somewhat tasteful pictures. Probably because he was not sexually attracted to them, but because he wants to be like these men in the pictures.

Dr. Z :

He may have been embarrassed when you confronted him because his self-esteem is low and it is not easy for someone to admit their vulnerabilities, even to those he is close to like his family

Customer:

Something else to note - his scoutmaster has a beard and is a judge in our county. His uncle had a beard and he recently passed away. What do we do as his family to help him? We love him so very much and want to support him. Please help us with some suggestions.

Dr. Z :

Well he has no facial hair and his other male peers are starting to get facial hair (and may even brag about it) and this causes him to feel self-conscious. While you cannot provide him facial hair until his hormones start to kick in and he fully develops, but you can reinforce his positive qualities and using those positive self-beliefs to replace his self-critical beliefs that he has. Here is a good technique that I use with patients (especially teenagers) to help them do this

Dr. Z :

Also you mentioned that his scoutmaster and his uncle had a beard, were these people that he looks up to as role models?

Customer:

I would say so. He admires Judge T. He is a soft spoken nice guy that is fair. He understands L because his son has the same issues and is in the troop. His Uncle was very close with L and I know he misses him. They had a lot in common. L wants to be a chef when he grows up. He wrote a beautiful essay in his English II class recently crediting his uncle with his career choice. His uncle was also a nice man, but had issues like my son but they were undiagnosed for his era. He died this summer suddenly of a heart attack and stroke at 53 years old. We have no other siblings.

Dr. Z :

I am sorry to hear about his uncle. So because these two individuals are strong role models in his life, he would like to be like them and he views the superficiality of a beard as one of those requirements to be like these two good men. You can subtly explain to him about their other positive qualities and how your son exhibits those qualities as well, this may make him feel more self-confident and that he is following a similar path as his role models.

Customer:

Do you think grief counseling would be good for him? I can get that through my school as support.

Dr. Z :

Grief counseling can help him process his uncle's death and it can help increase his self-esteem, so yes that would be a good option for your son.

Dr. Z :

And since this behavior started in Summer, with the pictures, and his Uncle also died this summer. I would say that this is the likely connection and grief counseling may be able to point that out to your son and help him process it and adjust to it accordingly.

Customer:

Thank you for all of your help. We feel much better as parents to assist him. You know its so easy to help other parents as a teacher, but when it comes to your kid you melt and it breaks your heart not to know how to support him. I will speak to my friend in Guidance on Monday and he will get what he needs. Thanks again.

Dr. Z :

Anytime, I am happy to help. You are definitely a great mother caring so much for your son. I hope he gets the support he needs through counseling. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5416
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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