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I believe that I can help with this situation.
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.
Did your son develop a bit slowly, socially?
Does he have trouble making eye contact with others?
Besides the pacing does he have other unusual gestures or body postures?
Is he fascinated with the details of objects?
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.
Otherwise, he may very well have a personality disorder known as Schizoid Personality Disorder (this is NOT schizophrenia).
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.
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:
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.
For more information on Asperger's, the following article is concise and informative:
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.
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.
I shall keep your family in my prayers for good health and a joyful life.
Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
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.
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.
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