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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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We are in Australia. I have a 12yr old son (youngest of 4

Customer Question

Hi, we are in Australia. I have a 12yr old son (youngest of 4 sons) that was diagnosed as ASD a year and half ago. I'm not sure if he's considered Aspie or HFA, my admittedly limited understanding leads me to believe he's most likely HFA. He has recently undergone speech and psych assessments so that we have more up to date information for when he starts high school next year. In his psych assessment he mainly score in the low average to average range, but his matrix reasoning score was borderline and bought his over all score down to 88 or the 21%. How does having low matrix reasoning affect his ability to learn, be it in school or socially? What is most likely to work for me at home when trying to teach him to follow rules, acceptable language, acceptable social behaviours etc?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 2 years ago.
This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area.
Hello, I believe I can help you with your question. I am assuming that your son was given the WISC-IV based on your use of the subtest Matrix Reasoning. Matrix Reasoning is involved in the nonverbal abstract reasoning, inductive reasoning (making broad generalization to denote a conclusion and/or pattern of behavior), and spatial reasoning (ability to solve problems by manipulating 2D or 3D objects in one’s mind). So Matrix Reasoning is important when trying to solve new problems and that have never been seen before, such as involved in math, chemistry, geometry, physics, etc…This test is highly dependent on abstract ability of learning as well, but remember it is only one test as your son did well on other abstract tests too, so it is possible his struggle is not involved with spatial reasoning or abstract learning, but just with the Matrix Reasoning itself. The WISC-IV and all other IQ tests cannot tell you how an individual will perform socially though, it is only designed to measure a person’s cognitive abilities.
As for how to help your son’s behavioral issues and to follow rules, you should employ methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help him learn better control of his thought process and to not react on instinct or react before thinking. CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective, then your symptoms will lessen as well. So for your son, you would want him to confront with these negative and cognitive distortions and work on changing his thought process to be more objective. It would be wise for him to undergo individual CBT therapy with a developmental psychologist so that he can learn and practice these techniques, and to help develop a good parenting plan as well. Here is a sample of CBT technique if you wanted to learn more about it:
So this link may help him, it contains a technique I use with patients called a thought record. It will help him keep track of any negative thoughts he may have. He puts the negative thought on paper, the emotion accompanying, the evidence to support it, and the evidence against it. Then I want him to come up with an alternative thought for the situation (more objective and plausible). This will help him change his way of thinking to be able to think more positive and not automatically go to a negative type of thinking.
I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. I truly wish you and your son all the best moving forward, and I hope his behavior gets better very soon. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response. I have used CBT in the past and it was reasonably effective with my ADHD children, though only very limited effectiveness with my youngest. I will follow your advise and discuss it with our new Psychologist when I see him next. I don't think the technique you described will work with my son YET, as he is still in the developmental stage of "Here and now". He doesn't think about the past at all unless it is relevant to and supports what he is arguing about right now, and the future is too abstract for him unless it is to do with a specific time (4.17pm) or date (July 29 at 4pm) and reason (appointment or visit to friends house etc). He wanted to go to a game shop near home and I gave him a date that we would go, IF he didn't keep asking me to go. He kept on asking multiple times a day then a few days before that date got horribly upset because I told him he hadn't stuck to his side of the agreement. I had to give him a new date to agree to just to stop the meltdown becoming violent.
I don't know if its relevant to your advice, but thought I would include that his speech assessment (CELF-4 Australian Edition) shows that he has a Pragmatic Disorder, scoring 105 at school, 88 at home, where Criterion score for his age is 136.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response. I was obviously not sure where your son was in terms of his behavioral development but it does sound like he is lagging a bit if some of the CBT concepts will not resonate, but that is okay and easily correctable. I am not sure this is available in Australia or not, but it is called Wilderness Therapy where adolescents are grouped together in outdoor activities and forced to work together to finish complex tasks. This type of therapy may help your son to develop his social skills and the art of patience and compromise.
I am not sure if CELF-4 Australian version is the same as here in the U.S. but I am assuming it is. His Pragmatic Profile is about where I would expect for someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and this is why I think a form of group therapy could help in this area.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to help.