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brilliant 15 year old Aspie question

The Lorax

Well-Known Member
As you all know occasionally I post about my son to ask the community about what I am missing.

Well we resolved 90% of his school anxiety. He was playing a PvP game every night casually and getting destroyed by kids that play it 24/7. Being a gamer playing games like DOTA I 100% understand the frustration. So we said don't play it for these reasons and explained how stress impacts the system and the neurochemicals, again, and he didn't play it and is now happy and going to school.

But....

We discovered a pattern with him and school work.

Anything that has to do with reading an essay and writing about it sends his anxiety through the roof.

He reads and writes like an adult.

But he went to do his PSAT, which he scored top 1% last year, and he wigged out walking out of the school when the essay part came.
He had a book to read, Ender's Game, and he just can't do it. He can't read it and do an essay on what he read. He has to do it in small portions.
He has a history test reading 2 paragraphs and answering a multiple choice question. He had an anxiety attack over it.

Now I read that history question and I had to read it 3x to absorb all of it to answer the question. It is for an AP class.

I can't find what this issue he has is. He understands what he reads.
Is this executive function?
It isn't hyperlexia
is it ADD?
Is it lack of Theory of Mind? He is pretty ASD light.

Maybe someone can shed some light on this?

The odd thing is my wife is an avid book reader and when she was his age she loooooooved doing book reports. She has the ASD in the family.

Yet he aces science, math, and does the history work in class. He critically thinks and is self aware which for a 15 year old is pretty good.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
As you all know occasionally I post about my son to ask the community about what I am missing.

Well we resolved 90% of his school anxiety. He was playing a PvP game every night casually and getting destroyed by kids that play it 24/7. Being a gamer playing games like DOTA I 100% understand the frustration. So we said don't play it for these reasons and explained how stress impacts the system and the neurochemicals, again, and he didn't play it and is now happy and going to school.

But....

We discovered a pattern with him and school work.

Anything that has to do with reading an essay and writing about it sends his anxiety through the roof.

He reads and writes like an adult.

But he went to do his PSAT, which he scored top 1% last year, and he wigged out walking out of the school when the essay part came.
He had a book to read, Ender's Game, and he just can't do it. He can't read it and do an essay on what he read. He has to do it in small portions.
He has a history test reading 2 paragraphs and answering a multiple choice question. He had an anxiety attack over it.

Now I read that history question and I had to read it 3x to absorb all of it to answer the question. It is for an AP class.

I can't find what this issue he has is. He understands what he reads.
Is this executive function?
It isn't hyperlexia
is it ADD?
Is it lack of Theory of Mind? He is pretty ASD light.

Maybe someone can shed some light on this?

The odd thing is my wife is an avid book reader and when she was his age she loooooooved doing book reports. She has the ASD in the family.

Yet he aces science, math, and does the history work in class. He critically thinks and is self aware which for a 15 year old is pretty good.
Enders Game is a trigger book for me. I relate too much with the protagonist.

In my case it brings back memories of bulling and masking in the school. I may have read it over 20 times. It also have much to do with PVP and hurting others just in case, mental games and so on.

I don't know if that is the case with your son.

You may ask him. It may be the blank paper thing, not having a clear what to do methods for writting. It could be difficulty taking the big picture and deciding which details are less important (that's very autistic). It may be feeling he is going to be judged if he writes about what he actually thinks. It may be many things.

Best of luck. I think you are a good parent. Congratulations on caring so much your son.
 

Misery

Photo-Negative
V.I.P Member
The odd thing is my wife is an avid book reader and when she was his age she loooooooved doing book reports. She has the ASD in the family.

It can be perceived differently for each.

Like, I haaaaaaaaaaaaated doing book reports and such back when I was in school, despite having always been an avid reader, but there were some reasons for this:

1. School sucked, plain and simple. I tell ya, boring kids to death is NOT the best way to get them interested in learning, but that seems to be the only tactic schools use. Among all the other problems school brings.

2. It could be the books. Reading is very, very subjective, but of course the curriculum doesnt care about that. If the books are just bloody dull, or are of a genre he doesnt like, or something like that, then that's definitely going to be a problem. I remember this one being very, very frequent for me. I know what type of books I always loved. My school did not like those. They'd rather have us read things like The Great Gatsby (which just about put me to sleep) while I wanted to read, well, basically any other bloody thing (I like horror, suspense, and sci-fi). Needless to say, when I had to do assignments around that book, it didnt go well. Didnt like the book, and simply didnt care, so... yeah. That added up to nothing useful.

As it is, Ender's Game strikes me as a... rather strange choice for this. I wonder what in the world they were thinking with that.


Beyond that though, honestly, the only true way to get an accurate answer is to simply ask him. We can advise and suggest, but we cannot pull an answer out of him and hand it to you. There's about a bazillion possible reasons, and we've no real way to narrow them down enough to help.

He was playing a PvP game every night casually and getting destroyed by kids that play it 24/7. Being a gamer playing games like DOTA I 100% understand the frustration.

As a lifelong gamer myself, you have my deepest sympathy.


Occam's Razor suggests he doesn't actually read and write like an adult.

Dont be so sure. I was doing the exact same thing at his age. Heck I remember reading The Stand (which is about 5 bazillion pages long and DEFINITELY not for kids) at age 12 or 13. And generally my writing style that I use on this forum was the same back then (though back then I was more irritable).

Also just so you know... jumping into a topic where someone is asking for assistance to say something like "NO THEY'RE NOT THAT GREAT" is... not very helpful. Particularly when you dont know the person at all. That's an awful big set of assumptions there, and generally considered quite rude.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
I agree that Ender’s Game seems like a bit of an odd choice for school. As a young adult, reading that book, I had a lot of intense feelings about it, and not something that I would want to translate into a book report.

I had a lot of, I think I would call it, performance anxiety when I was a child. There were many things that I had the skills to do, but I would not do them because other people wanted me too.

I think for me, their desire for me to do things suggested that they would be judging me and I would never live up to what I wanted to be. But also, if I was not interested in it, I simply would find ways to avoid doing it. I had the skills, but if I did not see the value or the reason in something or if I was fearful of it, I became a master at avoiding.

I think all of our best work comes from intrinsic motivation and pursuing the things that we are most interested in. Of course, I do understand the need to fulfill that assignments and follow directions when one is trying to get through school.

When I was able to do things on my own, I did them very well, but being asked to do things made me seem like I was much less capable than I really was.

I know this wasn’t helpful in any concrete way, but just wanted to offer on perspective because it is so important for you to be investigating how to help your son, and I respect that you are doing that.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Occam's Razor suggests he doesn't actually read and write like an adult.
Parents complement and see the best in their children all the time and it is very important. He is a parent, not meant to be unbiased and objective. He has pride and love for his son, I think that’s what his statement means.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@Rodafina

I chose to state my suggestion for both the nature of the issue and (indirectly) a framework for addressing it briefly, because that's all the data supports.

I don't see how it could be useful to deny the existence of the issue as stated, or to suggest many/most people have the same issue.

As a parent (with now self-sufficient adult children), I learned a very long time ago not to ignore issues that they couldn't deal with themselves. Unconditional support is important at the right time and place, but problems should be faced, not avoided.
 
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Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
I chose to state my suggestion for both the nature of the problem and a (indirectly) a framework for addressing it briefly, because that's all the data supports.

I don't see how it could be useful to deny the existence of the issue as stated, or to suggest many/most people have the same issue.
As a parent (with self-sufficient adult children), I learned a very long time ago not to ignore issues that they couldn't deal with themselves. Unconditional support is important at the right time and place, but problems must be faced, not avoided.

I interpreted the brevity and the indirect nature of the suggestion as unhelpful. I think when we are speaking of someone else’s children, they deserve a bit more sensitivity in discussing their problems.

But, let us not derail the thread, I completely agree with you that hiding or denying problems and offering unconditional love instead is not helpful to anybody. Your points quoted above are sound, and based on your own experience, so completely valid and useful.
 

Silhouette Mirage

.
V.I.P Member
Does he actually enjoy the book? Some of us only truly excel in our preferred 'special interest' domains, and anything outside of that just goes in one ear and out the other. My otherwise-normal comprehension and understanding goes completely out the window when I'm bored with the material and I can't plug it into preexisting data in my brain, and I've heard that many of us with HFA (read as: 'barely autistic' in ignorant NT terms) are the same way.
 

phantom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Is being able to write an essay on a book really vital to graduating high school? If it doesn't prevent him from graduating i would just let him take the F in that subject. I don't understand what makes you so concerned about this.

In high school I performed well in science and math, but sucked at anything that required pure memorization and linguistical intelligence. Some of those subjects I just about passed and others I failed. I still graduated and do well in college.
 
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Raggamuffin

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I had to stop PVP games as they'd trigger my anxiety, or anger. A game is supposed to be enjoyable, so I realised playing such titles wasn't a good thing for me.

Does the school have a counsellor? Might be worth looking into. See if he can verbalise what is specifically causing the anxiety. If it's fear of failure, or overwhelm etc. Having to read a book and then do an essay might sound simple enough - but it won't be for everyone. Each and every student will struggle with it in some way, shape or form. Some more than others.

I was never good at reading. I'd read a few pages then zone out. In fact, I winged English in school, college and uni by reading sections of books that were going to be what I wrote about. I finished very few books unless we were reading them as a class. Anything that required reading in my own time wasn't really done. In fact, I didn't really enjoy reading until much later in life. In hindsight, I should've done english writing, as I much prefer that. Rather than reading and pulling apart through analysis, something that someone else has already written.

You obviously want the best for your child. Hard to know what to recommend, as we can't be good at everything. And with neurodiversity we often excel in some areas, and really struggle in others. So in an educational establishment - we're not always going to thrive or do well. Could buckle under exam conditions, or essays, hard to read certain books - especially if they're not interesting.

All I'd suggest is understanding, and positive reinforcement. But also a school counsellor to allow your child to verbalise the anxieties, try and see the pattern and how best to perhaps manage the anxiety etc.

I can say though - that chronic anxiety, anxious rumination etc. is common with neurodiversity. I'm personally quite anti-medication, so I'd always suggest the talk therapy, lifestyle changes route, rather than medication which tends to bury symptoms rather curing anything. Still - there'll be no end of success stories for medication. So we'll all have our biases and opinions on the matter.

Time, patience, understanding and listening.

Ed
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I see these as issues not necessarily defined by complex neurological considerations.

In my university days, I recall some of the science-oriented students from my dorm who were terrified of having to do essays on much of anything. Which I found amusing, as I was pursuing a major in political science in which virtually every course involved a midterm and final essay apart from a research paper.

In essence I don't believe this is a preference determined in terms of whether one is Neurotypical or Neurodiverse, but rather a fundamental difference between those pursuing the arts versus the sciences. That some are better at "mechanics" and some are better at "creative thinking". With some degree of overlap between both.

The real challenge being that most any academic scenario demands aptitude in both areas rather than one or the other. It doesn't dictate that one will fail, but most likely it means they won't be leaving with a 4.0 GPA either.

I can't find what this issue he has is. He understands what he reads.
Is this executive function?
It isn't hyperlexia
is it ADD?
Is it lack of Theory of Mind? He is pretty ASD light.

Yet he aces science, math, and does the history work in class. He critically thinks and is self aware which for a 15 year old is pretty good.
 

Yeshuasdaughter

You know, that one lady we met that one time.
V.I.P Member
My daughter was the same in middle and high school. She wouldn't do a single essay. So we had great discussions instead. I would let her infodump about the things she was learning, rather than having her write about it. We would also do art projects about the books or subjects. A few other things we did was visit museum exibits that were related to the subject, and I would buy her stacks of the great historical works of literature. She read everything from White Fang, to Moby Dick, to The Art of War. I would have her do artwork related to the stories, and we would talk, daily about the adventures of the characters, and also the events surrounding true historical time period the story was set in.

But unbeknownst to me at the time, she was checking out books on writing from the library, and had a few secret novels that she had written online (several hundred pages each). She's now in college and is one of the top students in her writing class. Her writing professor has even been begging her to change her major to English. She aces all of her beautiful essays, even though she cried bitter tears, and rebelled against ever doing one in high school.
 
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The Lorax

Well-Known Member
That's odd. I know I posted. It's not here.

#1 He chose Ender's Game. He likes the movie.
#2 He does read and write like an adult according to my ASD wife with a 4 year professional writing degree. She also has 2 other masters. I just have a crappy worthless degree.

My son really doesn't have super enjoyment of anything. Unlike other aspies he doesn't have a focus subject. He doesn't like to read word books, yet scored top 1% PSAT and was reading at 11th grade level in 8th grade.

Grades we are asking for "A"s just to pass. If he fails a class he has to retake it. We are also paying an arm and a leg for his special school with 5 kids per class. He has straight "A"s except 1 class now Biology which he has an "F" because he isn't doing the work and he pretty much refuses to do work at home. He did just start bombing history because he refused to take the long wordly ready test in which he has to extrapolate data from. We are now paying for an after school tutor that specializes in life skills and executive function so he can do the work on top of therapy, group therapy, and the school. It is crippling the amount of money we are spending.

He doesn't do projects. It was a chore to do fun art projects when he took art class. He did the minimum required.
He doesn't like to read word books.
He doesn't like to read then have to write an essay (I think this is the lacking of Theory of Mind)
He doesn't have a focus subject he loves.

But he watches science videos for half the day.

So no one knows the connection of Theory of Mind and ASD is?

The odd thing is that everyone and their mother is telling us how important it is to get a high school diploma. Yet when I look at the colleges they accept a GED as long as you pass an entry exam. I know for certain that if you got a GED and you walk in with a top 10% SAT score they will open the door for you.

He wants to graduate with a full high school diploma. But we told him if he fails a class he can take upto 3 classes next year, which every he likes, and get his GED when he is 18. 3 classes is what the scholarship covers.

He can get on SSD when he is 18. That will cover college costs.

We want him to have the social experience of high school. He has friends there and their bond is growing each month. I want him to have that. It sucks graduating high school with no friends.

The administrator is trying to convince us he can go to the honors portion of the university he is so smart. We are like no he can't handle it. He can't even handle an essay.

We also can't afford to kill ourselves financially hoping he graduates with an HS diploma. Already I can barely work taking care of so much family stuff. Which now we have another problem that has brewed up that only I can take care of.

I spoke to his therapist and he believes it is a lack of Theory of Mind.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@The Lorax

You should read the wikipedia article on Theory of Mind, including this line:
Tine et al. report that autistic children score substantially lower on measures of social theory of mind in comparison to children diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

Every reply in this thread was made by someone who obviously doesn't lack "Theory of Mind". Quite solid evidence that either it's a continuity, or doesn't apply to ASD1 at all.

Either way, if your son has a deficit in that general area (insight into human motivations and behavior) it's not surprising it shows up at school when he's asked to analyze those while studying Literature and History.

At a certain level in Literature and History, the writers assume an adult level of understanding of human behavior. Schools try to teach their students how to contextualize the material (deconstruction). At this point there can be a split between students like the more/less numerate one between STEM and the humanities.

It your son's level it's not likely to be objectively difficult, but he may have some catching up to do.
 
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Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Wow,

I put way less pressure on my daugther.

When I was a kid my teachers told my parents I was super intelligent and with some help I could have jumped to more advanced courses. My parents told them that they wanted me to go out with my bike, the wanted me to climb with my friends, they wanted me to get dirt and play football and just play games.

Of course I cant change the past to see what would have happened if I had fully focused on developing my intelligence. But I can say that I am still more intelligent than the average and still love learning and that I have enougth social skills to navigate the world.

There are times when good is better than perfect. Because perfection in some area means fail in others, while good in one area let people to become average in so many others.

Maybe your son is the person to choose what he want to experience. Being loved without needing to be perfect feels nice.

Just my 2 cents.
 

The Lorax

Well-Known Member
Here is the deal. If he is in average classes he aces them but makes no friends. People like people from their own tribe. His tribe are brilliant kids. Regular kids don't get his jokes, play games that don't challenge him, do things that are no interest for him, and he is terrible at sports which they all like.

He gets along incredibly well with brainy kids. Both his best friends are brilliant and girls. One has ASD the other anxiety disorder.

I just want him to pass, that's it. I don't yell at him. I strategize around him. I have to work on eggshells around his depression and anxiety. So far so good. He is happy 90% of the time now. I have to choose words carefully. Once in a while when he is dragging his ass in a way completely unacceptable I have to give him the "I feel very angry at you due to this." with a normal tone and give him options. I don't berate or criticize only compliment on things that are difficult for him.

But the costs are staggering.
$3000 a month for therapy, social skills, school, school specialist for executive function which we can't afford.

We are dropping the therapist. I figured out what was causing his super anxiety myself. Now he is fine. I also asked if he liked visiting the therapist.... he said yes...... I asked what do you like about visiting him..... Oh I like the therapy dogs.... that's it? ...... yes I like visiting the dogs...........My eye started twitching. The therapist is a brilliant therapist but it's been $3500 and zero results. He technically helped me more than my son.

The social skills group taught him everything I taught him but better. The instructor is excellent and has a PhD. He has real friends now. I paid up front 13 sessions and it will be done soon.

Now he needs the school specialist to guide him through the issues he has with Theory of Mind.

Of all the above the new school has really helped him.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@The Lorax

I don't have an opinion about whether your son would benefit from additional therapy.

OTOH I'm 95% confident he son could learn to understand school-level history, and do normal school-level work on a simple young-adult novel like Ender's Game without therapy. This is basic "technical" work - it's just in a domain he's not comfortable in.

I can't see us ever discussing possible reasons or solutions for this, but it's not uncommon in teenagers in general, and more common in Aspies.

A lot of Aspies have a stronger tendency to do what they want, and it's complement, not do what they don't want to, rather than do what they should. Again, it's shared with teenagers in general, but at his stage in life, some Aspies are prepared to destroy their personal futures over quite trivial stuff.

No all Aspies though, and in general the "stubbornly avoidant behavior" diminishes later on (25+).

I don't know if there's a solution for this. Simple persuasion doesn't work, and you can't threaten someone who is (for all the wrong reasons) indifferent to the sanction side of the threat.

It's not about something like "Theory of Mind". That might tell you why he doesn't have exceptional innate talents in the academic humanities, but it won't help with refusal to do simple things.
 
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Knower of nothing

Well-Known Member
He doesn't do projects. It was a chore to do fun art projects when he took art class. He did the minimum required.
He doesn't like to read word books.
He doesn't like to read then have to write an essay (I think this is the lacking of Theory of Mind)
He doesn't have a focus subject he loves.

But he watches science videos for half the day.
Don't know if it'll end up being relevant but this was the same for me back then yet today I both love reading and doing art projects. It was presenting them as an obligation and in the context of school that sucked every bit of value out of doing the activity, sometimes to the point of disgust.
 

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