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Children with unusual behaviour

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I would like to know if any TTers have a child who shows behaviour that is maybe not the 'norm'? Did you think it was just a personality trait or something more eg. autism?

 

Let me tell you about my son and my thoughts.

 

He walked early at 10 months old, spoke a bit as normal then tended to babble a bit around 2-3 years attended speech therapy. Toilet trained around 2 years but not for no.2's, would only do it in a nappy and would freak out if we tried to sit him on the toilet. This went on until he was 3+.

 

He slept very well from a young baby and never demanded much attention, seemed placid. Until he turned 3 and had almighty tantrums over silly things. When playing he liked cars or trains that he could line up, move along and line up again. Always in a linear formation, very good at jigsaws and puzzles. At this point I asked our Health visitor to observe him as I was concerned about the repetitive behaviour and stubborness. However, he is a very affectionate child and very empathic towards others, good eye contact. So not showing classic Autism. (?)

 

He does play with other children but prefers to play alone quite happily, still with figures, or cars and jigsaws. He is very sensitive towards babies and toddlers and tries to help out.

 

We came to Germany 2 years ago and he has not picked up the language as quickly as his siblings. has been sent to Speech therapy here for the 'sch' sound and a slight lisp. His vocabulary is good (english) and he is a chatty child who like to make jokes and tell stories. He loves music and always find the perfect tempo and taps along to all sorts of music.

 

Now all is not well it seems. I know I have gone on a bit about him but it was just to aid any advice anyone can offer.

 

He began grundschule in September and after 3 weeks the teacher called me in to say his handwriting was bad and also his fine motor skills. She felt his co-ordination wasn't so good and he has to take extra sport. (he already plays in the local football team and plays well). She told me this in German and I dont really have that great a grasp of the language tbh. She gave me exercises for writing with him and suggested he may be left-handed.

 

We got him tested and have been told that at one time he was left handed but wants to write with his right. Any activity or test conducted away from the table, he responded always with his left. So i know that this can cause problems also.

 

Now the teacher wants a long chat with me. Last time she was hinting at a school in Munich for english/german kids that was a state school. I dont know if this is a 'special' school or what. I just get the feeling he is not as quick as the other kids and the german system doesn't allow them to go so much at their own pace. his maths is fabulous and his reading is very good too. his handwriting can be good when he puts his mind to it but his drawing and cutting skills are poor.

 

Is he a mixed up left-right hander, immature, lazy, autistic, maybe just not academic and more creative? I dont know. i always think there is something just a bit different about him, that sometimes he is in his own wee world. I love him so much and just want him to be happy and give him the opportunities to do the best he can.

 

I am just so terrified of the 'german' way of dealing with kids who are not 'by the book'.

 

Can anyone offer any advice?

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I was quite touched by your post and how deep the love is that you feel for your son. The problem is that no one here is going to be in a position to give medical advice. If you are concerned I would ask to be referred to a child psychiatrist to see if there is anything really wrong with him.

 

I would just say that all children, like all of us, have different talents, abilities and personalities and a lot of the worries I had about my own kids were completely without foundation. I may have felt a little bit stupid but I certainly had peace of mind when I knew that there was nothing wrong.

 

Good luck and your son is lucky to have a Mum who cares for him so much.

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it's just the whole fact we are in Germany scares me. If we were in the Uk I would have no qualms about seeing professionals but here I just think there is a completely different attitude.

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I wouldn't want to venture a guess about your son's condition, and I know if I were in your position, I would be similarly concerned about how things might be different in Germany.

 

I don't have a recommendation based on personal experience, but after doing some Googling, I found this doctor.

 

Prof. Dr. Florian Heinen

Klementinenstr. 3, 80805 Muenchen

(089) 72 01 50 66

 

His credentials are listed here.

 

I don't know if you have experience with the Dr. von Hauner Kinderspital, but my son's had two surgeries there and I think it is an excellent hospital. So since this Doc is the Head of the Department for Paediatric Neurology and Developmental Medicine, I don't suppose he would be half-bad at the job.

 

In any case, I would encourage you to get your son evaluated by a specialist, or two or three, until you find someone you feel is trustworthy. If he's just begun Grundschule, I suppose he's 6 or 7 years old, definitely within the early window of age for good results in treatment for developmental disorders, if in fact he does have any.

 

Bottom line, I say trust your mommy instinct and get him checked out. If you really don't like the treatment or attitude, keep going until you find a doc you can feel confident with.

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Thanks Leeza for taking the time to do this.

 

The mummy instinct is a niggling feeling I have that something is just not quite right. But he is the most delightful, sincere and loving kid and I suppose I am afraid of him being labelled and expected to behave in a way that affects his personality.

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Your son sounds absolutely normal to me. Nothing you have posted even hints at autism so I don't know why you think that is a concern.

Your kid also sounds to be somewhat ambidextrous with preferences (ie left for throwing a ball and right for writing). This could be natural or self imposed as "all" the other kids write with the right hand and he mimics them and wants to be like them instead of writing naturally with his left. This could cause frustration and withdrawal from certain activities, but not a major thing to overcome. The rest just seems to be settlement issues with language being somewhat of a barrier which could be another frustration and withdrawal trigger. This would especially be true if your child was a little on the higher IQ side as that would just double the frustration aspect.

 

What I would do:

1) Consult a physician (more cause the costs may be subsidized than any autism concern)

2) Get a German tutor (a neighborhood kid would do fine and doesn't have to be professional)

3) Build a circle of German speaking friends for your child and this could be built around just getting a few kids together to play soccer once or twice a week.

4) Pay little attention to the teacher's overactive concerns, but do think about an integration school. The teachers at those schools have more experiences with "differences" and are thus less prone to the one size fits all solutions.

 

Good luck and try not to worry so much.

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The German school system is a bastard. Our eldest has/had a few of the traits mentioned in your first post. The system here is not tailored to cope with any deviation from the norm and actively opposes healthy syllabus flexibility. Any perceived deviation is often considered "A Problem". Don't fret. Be patient with your son. Every child is (thank god) different and special. If you can afford it, music lessons are always good. Also what eurovol the lib yank said :)

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It all sounds pretty normal to me too. My two did all those things at an early age.

 

Add to that joining the German system, with different attitudes. Then add the German Grundschule.

 

The Grundschule my oldest attended had many amateur teachers with their own social problems who try to tell you that your kid is somehow subnormal. Proved wrong by the next school whose attitude is "what a great kid!"

 

You will get many stories about how crap Grunschule here is. Even from Grundschule head teachers!

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Cupcake, your son sounds just like my brother, and to an extent my father, who, perhaps because he was forced to switch hands, sort of blew a mental gasket and took a while to catch up again (and eventually became extremely successful and happy, and spoke 3 languages fluently, etc etc.).

 

Though my brother, as far as I know, was always right-handed. He was always a very mellow, easy-going but shy kid, but when he threw a tantrum, usually because some social situation wasn't going the way he'd expected or hoped, it was a big one: lots of screaming, anger, crying. He was very sensitive, and loved animals but was mostly shy around them (btw, consider getting a dog or cat meant just for them; as kids, my father and brother both really benefitted from the responsibility and built-in understanding friend). He spent hours, HOURS, making traffic jams (usually one long line going all the way through the house) with all his matchbox cars, and whatever toys I had as well, and was very fond of taking things apart and putting them back together. I think it was meditative for him.

 

People thought my brother was "special," but he was simply a late bloomer, and a real sweetheart. Thank goodness my mother had a wonderful pediatrician who told her to ignore the ill-informed teachers at our school who wanted to send him to the "special" school. Incidentally, they wanted to send me to the special ed school, too, because I was bilingual and learned English a bit late and they, not knowing the other (admittedly uncommon) language, thought I was speaking gibberish, and making it up for attention because I was developmentally challenged. I was sent to detention repeatedly for allegedly "pretending" to read books that were "too difficult" for me. Idiots. There are good teachers, and then there are these charlatans. I hope there is a special place in hell for them, honestly. Where was I...

 

When my brother finally DID begin to speak (age 5?) it was in full sentences. Not kidding. In two languages (we were raised bilingually). He did need years of speech therapy, but the doctor was totally unconcerned by this, and it did the trick. They gave him an IQ test and his was the highest result they'd had in years. As he got older, he remained a sensitive, thoughtful kid, and excelled at math and logic, and would have made a fantastic engineer. His handwriting remained atrocious and his essays always sucked, frankly. He is not a genius, autistic, or anything other than normal; it's just that this was the way HE was meant to develop, and that's that.

 

The only thing I wish he'd learned better was how to handle certain social situations, disappointment, and criticism. My mother had a real soft spot for him, and often protected him to the exclusion of teaching him to see the problem beyond "they don't understand you; their loss" to fit in and make friends, which very often isolated him further.

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I don't have kids or experience with the German education system. But what I can contribute is that I have read up on Asperger's Syndrome and autism, as well as talking to a close friend who has autistic siblings. The reason I was so interested in this is because I suspected someone I know may be mildly autistic/has asperger's syndrome. The conclusion I came to is that even if it is true, it is so mild that its borderline whether it is just character traits or a genuine syndrome.

 

But the most important thing I learned was that either way, it doesn't actually matter. The important step is accepting the person for who they are and how they behave.

 

Having learned about the characteristics of autism/Asperger's syndrome, I now see mild versions of the characteristics in loads of people! Little things, behaviour or mannerisms, particularly amongst men. I sometimes wonder if we all have a little aspect of it in us, and people with autism/Asperger's syndrom are just at the far end of the scale.

 

I don't mean to insult or belittle the genuine difficulties of people with autism or their families. I'm talking more about very mild behaviour patterns. What I'm trying to say is that maybe the characteristics you observe in your son are more common than we think, and are completely "normal".

 

Like the others, I'd say go with your gut instinct. If you are worried, get him checked and talk to professionals about the reasons behind your worries. They can help you much more than we can. Don't believe every word the teacher says, you know your son very very well by now. Its highly likely you are worrying about nothing, as a few parents have already described happening with their own kids.

 

If it does turn out that he may be autistic/have Asperger's syndrom, don't panic as its not automatically terrible news. There's a wide spectrum with many different types. Many adults have never been diagnosed and still lead a perfectly full and happy life.

 

From what you have described, he sounds like a perfectly lovely boy and almost identical to at least 2 of my nephews. Hope this helps.

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my nephew was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was about 4 years old (he's 8 now).

he'd also been a late speaker and it was hard to potty-train him, think he was still in nappies at nearly 3 years old. he had certain fixations about things too and was terribly clumsy.

fortunately he was so early diagnosed and he is thriving at school. the teachers are aware of his Asperger's and he has a health advisor who works with them and his mum.

he is a few years ahead in his reading and was pupil of the year last school year. he's quite the little intellectual.

I think the key is getting a diagnosis for your son as soon as possible so any conditions he may or may not have can be dealt with as necessary.

btw my uncle also has Asperger's and he was a maths professor (he's retired now)!

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He began grundschule in September and after 3 weeks the teacher called me in to say his handwriting was bad and also his fine motor skills. She felt his co-ordination wasn't so good and he has to take extra sport. (he already plays in the local football team and plays well). She told me this in German and I dont really have that great a grasp of the language tbh. She gave me exercises for writing with him and suggested he may be left-handed.

I'm in a bit of rush otherwise I would write more. Have you thought of doing ergotherapy? This is very helpful for fine motor skills. My son is doing ergo now because he was born 3 months early and has a difficult time with his fine motor skills. Perhaps you can ask the teacher to put her observations in writing and then discuss them with you son's doctor?

I feel for you. Take a deep breath and don't worry too much! sunny

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Hi there, he sounds normal to me but without seeing him play I can't really comment. All I can say is there is a tendency to invent problems out here when I reckon they are just different development paths. There is a depressing pressure to conform here which seems to undermine individual thinking here. What is considered "normal" is the narrow German way of thinking.

 

That is only my opinion though based on the somewhat narrow world I inhabit.

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Hi. Hang in there - he sounds OK. He is good at all the essential stuff by the sounds of things.

 

My eldest sister has 3 kids - all Autistic - and so she ends up appearing every so often on UK TV when they are discussing causes of Autism, because her case proves it is clearly genetic. Yours does NOT sound autistic.

 

My 11 year old was labelled with Aspergers a few years ago. He has a high IQ on all the tests both in the UK and in Germany. He has been on Ritalin the last 2 years, but is middle of the class at a good gymnasium now. We only have him on a low dose on school days - never any other time. It helps him concentrate.

 

Then they had concerns with my 7 year old because when he came here aged 3 he did not talk - but once he got started talking German we couldn't shut him up. Then at 5 the local school started trying to label him like his brother (completely different kids) and saying his handwriting motor skills were shit etc. He went to an expert for extra help/analysis and they said the local school were being cocks and he was 100% normal.

 

Basically the German school system is a total frigging nightmare if your kid does fit in a perfect box all the time. They would prefer identikit robots over here scoring 2's in every test. It is the single BIGGEST cause of stress and strife in my household. I run my own business over here but that is a pot of piss compared to dealing with the kids at school. I expect it will be a constant source of stress, worry, aggro and concern until either:

 

1. The kids magically become perfect German robots.

2. They leave school.

3. We leave Germany.

 

So, yeah, the system is HARD WORK over here and they love to knock your kids. So be strong, stand up to them, and keep loving your kid.

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So, yeah, the system is HARD WORK over here and they love to knock your kids. So be strong, stand up to them, and keep loving your kid.

Excellent advice there. In my (short) experience with the German school system, they take the path of least resistance, if you make it harder to do what they want, than it is to do want you want, you will get what you want.

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He sounds a lot like my son whose handwriting is way behind his reading and maths. Kids develop at different rates and some kids have out of sync development where some skills are ahead and others lag behind but ultimately they will catch up. This is not the same as Aspergers/Autism although the two can occur together. If your child has good eye contact and empathy for others then stop worrying about Autism. To improve his writing give him anything that requires working with a pencil or crayon. My son has little interest in colouring or drawing but loves mazes and dot-to-dot puzzles. Ask him to write his own name on the Christmas cards. In my experience little and often is the best approach and little things like a list for Santa or a message to the tooth fairy don't feel like extra homework.

 

Can you remember when you first gave your a spoon to eat with - did he have a strong preference for one hand or the other ? Some kids use both, settle on a preferred hand quite late, and have similar levels of dexterity in both hands. Try giving him a tube to look through. Notice which hand and eye he uses. They may be opposite, eg. left eye and right hand. This isn't a problem in itself but may be a factor in clumsiness. If he enjoys the extra sport then encourage it.

 

Why not go and have a look at the other school the teacher suggested. If you have a chat with them you may be able to judge for yourself whether they are more flexible in their approach. He will be happier and more successful if he is with a teacher who understand his development and needs and you can judge whether a teacher really does.

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it's just the whole fact we are in Germany scares me. If we were in the Uk I would have no qualms about seeing professionals but here I just think there is a completely different attitude.

Your son sounds normal to me. (Yes even for a freak like me :) )

My daughter who is 2 1/2 now also has been having some such "irratic" behavior, and we must remember that kids are very different.

No kid fits the average curves shown in books nor conform to average "should be" patterns.

 

But I am concerened that YOU are fearful!

 

kids pick up fear from parents very fast and every other behaviour. If you constantly show such "irrational" fears ( as opposed to normal fears ), then kids tend to follow.

So be careful there and I would not make a big deal about his skills and talents right now...

Most of the issues vanish as time goes, and some are just because of peer pressure. ( like the left hand-right hand issue).

 

If you are too concerened, go see a professional as suggested by many, just so that YOUR behaviour may not make it worse atleast.

 

It may that he needs special care, but y hunch tells me that he will grow out of it.

but I am not the expert here...just giving my input based on my kids.

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I'm in a bit of rush otherwise I would write more. Have you thought of doing ergotherapy? This is very helpful for fine motor skills.

I absolutely second that. My son (now 22) had massive problems with coordination and fine motorics, his very good ped (now retired) sent him to therapy for two years, and he eventually learned to write after a fashion at school.

 

But, I also second the inflexibility of the German school system. No question, by the way, about intellectual abilities and capacity, top 10% there. Grundschule said that his motoric skills weren't advanced enough, see about special afternoon schooling.

 

Special afternoon schooling said his skills aren't defective enough to justify spending state money on him. Money that they need to educate the "really" needy, the counselor said, pointing at an absolute vegetable in a wheelchair who will never write a single letter in his whole life due to cramped limbs and spastic movements but costs several thousands of (then) DM a month at this renowned special school. I still don't see the logic.

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an absolute vegetable in a wheelchair who will never write a single letter in his whole life due to cramped limbs and spastic movements

I guess you'd also put Stephen Hawking in this category.

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@ Kay: Nope. This kid was totally out of it. May have had a nice disposition, and his parents loved him, but in spite of all their Förderschule etc. zero communication skills, zero improvement, nada, in 18 years. His mother talked at length about their odyssey. Seems if you fight long, hard and loud enough you can get state help. So, cupcake, go for it!

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