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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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My son, who is now a young adult in university, has been a

Customer Question

My son, who is now a young adult in university, has been a very private person since he was a small child. He has always seemed to be a very anxious person, preferring to stay in his room and not do a lot of socializing. When he was in grade 2 he seemed depressed (his teacher noticed it too) and we took him to the gp. Nothing much really came of it, and my son was very reluctant to ever broach any personal topic.

Through his pre-teen and teen years he would go into his room, put headphones on and pace....in a compulsive way. When he was at track meets, from the stands I could see him pace in a very specific way between events. This seems to have faded a bit as he has gotten older, although he picks away at his desk.

He is a very nice person and everyone likes him once they get to know him. He would never do anything mean to anyone and is liked at his part-time job by his managers and his fellow workers alike.

I worry for him as he is not the type to seek help as he is soooo private. We have encouraged him generally to always have people in his life that he can talk to if he ever has a troubling situation or simply needs someone to talk to. He is so private that we don't believe he would do this. He knows we are always open to listen, non-judgementally, and we have a loving relationship with him.

He has never had a romantic relationship that we know of, or a really close personal friend.

Should we be concerned? If so, what do you suggest we do?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 11 months ago.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Dear friend,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I believe that I can help with this situation.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

There are several possible reasons for your son's behaviour and I would like to ask a few questions. Perhaps you will come back on line while I am chatting with you.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Did your son develop a bit slowly, socially?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Does he have trouble making eye contact with others?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Besides the pacing does he have other unusual gestures or body postures?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Is he fascinated with the details of objects?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

If the answer to some of these questions is yes then he may have what used to be officially called Asperger's Disorder and now is officially called high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Otherwise, he may very well have a personality disorder known as Schizoid Personality Disorder (this is NOT schizophrenia).

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Here are the diagnostic criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder from the DSM-IV psychiatric diagnostic manual. Schizophrenia can be associated with this disorder, but from what you have said about your son, I do not believe that this is a concern.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

 


Diagnostic Criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder



A. A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:




  • neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family

  • almost always chooses solitary activities

  • has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person

  • takes pleasure in few, if any, activities

  • lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others

  • shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity


 


B. Does not occur exclusively during the course of , a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, another Psychotic Disorder, or a Pervasive Developmental Disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.



 

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :


For more information on Asperger's, the following article is concise and informative:

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :


Your son is functional and seemingly able to get on with life on his own terms. I have a few patients (in my live practice) with this disorder, and they generally get on quite well, although they are perceived as unusual and as loners. However, as long as they are relatively happy and functional, then there is not much to do.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Your son may not want to talk to a therapist, and if his condition interferes with his life he can learn some coping mechanisms, for either condition.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

I shall keep your family in my prayers for good health and a joyful life.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Warm regards,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC

Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 11 months ago.
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Customer: replied 11 months ago.

My son seemed to develop socially,at the same pace as others, other than being shy and anxious. He didn't want to draw attention to himself though. I wouldn't say he is "cold".


 


I've always suspected he has a combination of ADD (the rest of the family has it and he often 'in his own world with his thoughts') and social anxiety. He was always afraid of new situations, afraid he would embarrass himself. He would not speak up in class and he always raced to be the first one finished an assignment in class, so the teacher couldn't single him out for being slow completing it.


 


When he was very young, he was very sensitive to touch (sock seams, fabric, etc.) and could not tolerate bright sun or heat. He didn't sleep through the night until he was 18 months old. He was not a 'settled' baby. He was born almost a month early, although he was almost 7 lbs, but I don't know if this has any bearing. His growth was fine for the first few years, but then he significantly lagged in his physical development. When he was in grade 6 he had the physical maturity of a grade 3 student. We took him for growth tests and they said he would ultimately catch up, which he did in high school.


 


 


As far as solitary activities, he enjoyed playing soccer and hockey with his buddies, until he couldn't play on the same competitive teams as them, despite his athletic ability, due to his very small size and physical immaturity. He is fine socially if he is with a group that he 'belongs' to, but he isn't the instigator or social driver...and sometimes he doesn't want to participate.


 


Thank you for your help.

Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 11 months ago.
Dear Gail,

I do not believe that that your son's behaviour has anything to do with ADD (now called ADHD).

One of the symptoms of autism is being either very sensitive or not sensitive enough to touch, light, or sounds, called sensory integration disorder, is a sign of autism spectrum disorder.

He did have other pervasive developmental problems which he grew out of, but with the further information you provided it seems more likely that your son is high functioning but still has symptoms of Asperger's Disorder. He still has friends and is adept in his group in which he sometimes does not want to participate.

He had trouble speaking up in class but also had the sense to compensate by using his intelligence (Asperger's children are highly intelligent) to compensate.

I believe that if he was examined by a developmental psychologist or other professionnal who specialized in ASD (autism spectrum disorders), that you would get your definitive answer.

I have several patients with Asperger's and often find that it is not diagnosed readily by doctors, but nevertheless is there and can be compensated for by certain methods of behavioural techniques.

This is worth checking into. It seems to be the most likely explanation for his behaviour patterns.

I shall keep you family in my prayers.

Warm regards,

Elliott
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Thank you for your observations and opinion, Elliott.


 


 


I have a couple more questions, if you don't mind.


 


I can see that my son has some traits of Aspergers, but there are other aspects that make me wonder if this is a complete fit.


 


My son does not have a fascination with objects or numbers. He doesn't notice "things" in his environment and isn't particularly interested in finding out how things work. He doesn't have a particular fascination with cars, trains, schedules, sequences, daily routine or anything like that. He has no unusual postures and is very athletic. He doesn't say the wrong thing in front of people or act inappropriately (other than being in his own world sometimes) and he 'gets' social humor, etc. He isn't a nerd, he knows how to dress appropriately for social settings and on a daily basis, he just doesn't want to dress to attract too much attention. (i.e. he doesn't want to be a hipster or too "cool")


 


In other words, isn't it possible that he is just an introvert with a bit of social anxiety?....or is that how you define high-functioning Aspergers?


 


In either case, we don't know if he is generally happy or deeply tormented, and don't know how to find out. That's really what I care about.


 


If it's something like Aspergers, and he is totally fine with how he feels, then I'm fine with that....I just don't know how to broach the subject to find out.


 


Thanks again.


 


Gail.


 

Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 11 months ago.

Dear Gail,

Every person with Asperger's is different. There is no formula, but nevertheless it can be recognized by certain groupings of traits and by general observation.

He did have a hypersensitivity to touch and light. He does not make close friends or has a romantic relationship.

This seems to be more than social anxiety. He doesn't get particularly anxious or suffer from the symptoms of anxiety. Rather he stays aloof.

Pacing back and forth in a particular manner, which is one of his behaviours, is one of the possible symptoms of high functioning autism.

So is his picking away at his desk.

He is not communicating to you verbally about his inner feelings. He may be troubled by some of his feelings though most children with Asperger's are generally happy, although can be upset by some of their social shortcomings. Even if he is not communicating verbally, you can still get a feeling for his feelings using your maternal instincts.

Have his assessed by an expert (not your family doctor or a therapist with little or no experience). If he has this disorder then there are things that can be done to help him adapt to his needs.

Yes, what I have told you is an opinion based on knowledge and experience. Your son needs a face-to-face assessment by an expert to see if I am correct or not.

I wish you great success.

Warm regards,

Elliott

Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and 5 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 11 months ago.
Dear Gail,

Thank you so much. I shall keep your family in my prayers.

Warm regards,

Elliott

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