Some trouble at school for my daughter.
August 29, 2008 8:22pm CST
My daughter has had some trouble with a mean sort of kid at kindergarten. We'll call him Luke. From what she describes, he might very well be a kid that I've met before. My daughter has a friend from Pre-kindergarten. We arranged for a play date over at that house. Her friend's mother watches children during the day and one of them was named Luke. She had been told that Luke had autism. But, he didn't present to me like a kid with Autism. Autism is a social attachment disorder. A true individual with autism doesn't notice you when you come into the room. He considers people no differently than any object in his environment. This is an over simplification of an extreme case, of course. Luke, upon meeting me, tried to sit in my lap and get affection from me or play with me. This is, to my understanding, the exact opposite of Autism. Now, I happen to work in a field where I meet new people every day and have lots of time to talk. One of them is a Mr. M. He is a psychiatrist, so I have some fun talking with him about his field. Mr. M said Luke probably had Reactive Attachment Disorder. There are two ways this can manifest. One of the ways sounds much like Autism as the child fails to make normal social bonds. This is called, the "inhibited" form. The other, which sounds more like Luke seems to be one where a child will form inappropriate bonds with strangers. This is called the "disinhibited form." This kids might, for example, meet a stranger and profess to love them soon afterwards. "While RAD is likely to occur in relation to neglectful and abusive treatment, automatic diagnoses on this basis alone cannot be made, as children can form stable attachments and social relationships despite marked abuse and neglect." ----------- So, on the one hand, I don't like a kid bullying my daughter and I'd like to just report the kid. On the other hand, from what I've read about Reactive Attachment Disorder, "Disinhibited form" it seems like the kid is socially extremely needy and might just be unable to appropriately cope with suddenly being thrown in Kindergarten. It might actually work better to have my daughter try to be especially kind to him, giving him the attention he seems to so desperately need. Perhaps that would work better. If my understanding of the situation holds true.. it seems that Luke needs attention and being a bully at least gets someone to pay attention to him. So, should I try to explain the "kill them with kindness" and "turn the other cheek" ideas to my Kindergarten daughter or do I just tell her to keep her distance from him? I'm not so sure.
30 Aug 08
I'd like to clear something up before I go on to state my opinion on the matter. Autism can manifest itself completely differently from one child to another one child may completely ignore others while another child who is functioning on a different level but still has autism may be quite the little people person... but does not fully understand the appropriateness of their actions with others, such as being overly affectionate and understanding personal boundaries. My son who has autism is a social butterfly and tends to be overly affectionate with total strangers... and he does not have R.A.D. I think this child Luke could certainly benefit from having an educational assistant with him at all times as my son does in his class. If he becomes overwhelmed with a situation its a lot easier for him to calm down if taken out of the classroom. Try and explain to your child that Luke has problems with his brain and sometimes his behaviors are not really his fault. If you find that your child is really being affected by Luke's behavior then schedule a parent teacher time to sit down and discuss your concerns. I know personally being the mother to a child with autism I was in there every two weeks or so just for a check up to see how things were going... you could also think of bringing up the subject with Luke's parents as well.
• United States
1 Sep 08
Autism is defined in the DSM-IV-TR as exhibiting at least six symptoms total, including at least two symptoms of qualitative impairment in social interaction, at least one symptom of qualitative impairment in communication, and at least one symptom of restricted and repetitive behavior. Sample symptoms include lack of social or emotional reciprocity, stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language, and persistent preoccupation with parts of objects. (From Wikipedia) Unlike RAD, there is nothing in the Wikipedia article to suggest that we can expect overly social activity ("Social Butterfly") from individuals with Autism. A difficulty in social interaction is the characteristic of Autism in all sources I see talking about the subject. This fits with the explanation given to me by the Psychiatrist I was talking to in my office. Essentially, according to the trained professional (not just my ignorant uneducated opinion) overly affectionate and inappropriate social behavior is the anti-thesis of Autism. I suppose Psychologists and Psychiatrists can differ in their approach to Autism and diagnosis of it. Your doctor and this one apparently disagree.