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To wonder if this hurdle with my son and his dad not switching on are a symptom of the same thing?

(90 Posts)
TwinkleTits Wed 08-May-13 09:34:45

This is an example of a conversation I had with my 6.4 year old son last night.
Me-"DS, your bath is ready. go up stairs, get undressed. Pants and socks in the wash. Uniform over the stair gate. Ok, I will go through it again. Uniform off, pants and socks in the wash, uniform on stair gate. Now, what is it I need you to do?
DS- "erm, take my uniform off.. Erm... Errr
Me - Ok, uniform off. Pants, socks in wash. Uniform on stair gate.
DS - repeats it back and goes upstairs.

I leave it 5-6 mins, and shout up are you in the bath? He says no. I go up and hes sat on his bed, fully clothed playing. I asked why he wasnt undressed. He said he didnt know what I meant. I asked what he didnt understand about taking his uniform off and putting his pants and socks im the wash? He said he thought I meant tomorrow.

He was looking at me worried, (I think he was worried I was going to get cross) wide- eyed and genuinely confused.

We have these conversations day in day out.

Even simple 3 word tasks get the same results. I switch off the tv, make sure I speak slowly and clearly, and he is looking at me and repeats it back.

This is a child that gets on well at school, has absolutely no SN, and no sing of them. I know for a fact this is not the cause.

Now his dad hmm. I will hear my youngest son ask him a question up to 10 times in a row and his dad simply doesnt switch on and hear it. He locks onto something, the TV, a book or his phone he literally cannot unswitch and hear his son. Ive had to tell DS1 to stand in front of the tv to get his attention. His dad is not hard of hearing and he appologises to him for not noticing. He can be a pillock but hes not ignorant and would never deliberately ignore his son.

Its causing arguments now though because I will be upstairs getting showered and dressed and I can hear 2yo ds2 saying mummy over and over again, but his dad not answering him. No one answering him. When I confront his dad about it, he says he only just started asking for me 1 second ago. Except I was stood at the top of the stairs listening for ages waiting for him to be answered, his dad just thinks Im using it as an excuse to nag him and genuinely believes he 'only just started asking for you.' Asking for mummy 12 times in a row is not just a second.

He literally cannot switch on his brain to register his son talking. He'll be sat on his lap and say "Daddy look." Over and over again and he doesnt notice,

It drives me nuts.

Wise worse, PLEASE.

MCos Thu 09-May-13 00:19:43

Oh, forgot to add.
DH can be the same - he can't do 'quick' or 'hurry up' either. He is PhD, but needs processing time or kick in the arse before reacting to anything.

I'd hate to need him to rescue the family from a fire!

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 10:02:37

My son is the same in that he never has a sense of urgency about anything.

For example, if he is in my way and Im carrying his brother, bags, washing etc that Im about to drop, I'll ask my eldest to move out the way and he will do it very, very slowly.

Same goes for crossing roads safely, he will dawdle behind me.

cumfy Thu 09-May-13 14:22:49

Seems like DH is providing the "perfect" role model here. grin

Have you tried training him up (DS not DH btw) ?

eg taking him step-by-step through a task, and reinforcing that each time you ask X, this is precisely what he's supposed to do.

greenformica Thu 09-May-13 14:37:25

Get him to repeat every thing back to you after you have said it?

FreyaSnow Thu 09-May-13 14:40:42

I would find it hard to follow adult instructions expressed in that way, and my children wouldn't follow instructions well expressed like that either. It would be similar to me attempting to read instructions to flat pack furniture. It isn't that they don't make rational sense; it's just my brain struggles with, I'm not sure here, the blandness of it? It's like I can spell really well, but if somebody spells a word out loud with each individual letter, I can't follow that.

If I wanted my child to do that I'd go along the lines of, 'feed your socks to the washing basket monster, put your uniform on the stair gate so it is all ready to put on for school tomorrow and slide into the bath like a mermaid. The less imagination in the instruction, the harder we would find it to remember. I don't think this is a disorder. People are taught to remember foreign vocab using the same process.

Dervel Thu 09-May-13 14:58:06

Try this a little test, sit him down and give him a set of three instructions. Explain he has to do these things in order, but make sure the last one is something he will like be it retrieve a sweet from the table, or something of that ilk.

Watch to see if he get's the instructions jumbled up, and performs them out of sequence, and most importantly make a note if he forgets to take the sweet.

I suffered from an auiditry sequential memory problem when I was young (I am also dyslexic), and my mother did that test when I was 7. I forgot the sweet. It's a bit of a shot in the dark, but I thought it might be useful.

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 16:21:17

Dervel, I will try that now.

I had a meeting with the lady at school who specialises in this area and she mentioned possible dyslexia.

The good thing is, even if he has nothing I will absolutely be gaining tools to help him which is just brilliant.

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 16:22:29

greenformica you must not have read the OP at all. I mentioned him repeating it back to me several times.

TwinkleTits Thu 09-May-13 18:47:40

Ok, so I did as you suggested Dervel.

I said "Ds, I need you to do three things, go to your room and get your library books. Go to my room at get the pot of cream, then come down stairs and eat the slice of bread I left out for you." (He'd been nagging me about the bread Id baked, he was busting for a slice).

And guess what? He did it! No flipping problem!

There was far more words and instructions in that, then the example in the OP.

Does that then mean it is selective hearing and the stuff I ask him to do is ignored because there is no reward at the end?

Jux Thu 09-May-13 18:55:14

How about simplifying it completely for things he does every day? "Bath time. You know where your dirty clothes go and where to put your uniform, don't you? OK, Big Boy, off you go then." or something.

Leafmould Thu 09-May-13 19:08:55

Hi, op, you have got loads of things to be thinking about. I was wondering whether your ds can't see the wood for the trees. Ie: explain to him that now it is time for getting ready for bed, and there are a few things he needs to do. Can he think what they are? Once he knows the aim of all the instructions, and is thinking of them for himself he may find it easier to remember what he is doing. It's a different style of communication to try. Lots of people find following instructions difficult, especially a long list.

And if bed time is a flash point, work on trying different strategies at bedtime, to test them out.

Good luck.

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 09:38:28

Now that is a very interesting development OP. I had a discussion following dd's assessments about this type of thing and there is a big difference neurologically when a child internalises (if that's the right word) the instructions. When it's a list they will forget after the first thing, it uses a different part of the brain when there are different approaches to it. So a visual timetable / prompt cards work when the memory only functions after one instruction. But when the instructions are worked through differently, via other parts the brain using different methods such as visual language, reward, the impact is more effective.

wonderingagain Fri 10-May-13 09:48:09

I'm not explaining this well as I'm not a scientist. Hopefully one will come along soon. But what I am gleaning from the one that I spoke to, is that it's less to do with behaviour or character and more to do with how the brain works, where the information is stored and how the brain uses that information.

It may be that involving reward is the way forward. We are hard-wired to do what we need to do when the reward is right - food, sex etc - it makes our brains work more effectively so it would follow on that when a child perceives that an action, or several, will result in a reward it will store that information in a different part of the brain that works more effectively for recall.

steppemum Fri 10-May-13 09:58:09

my dh is just like your, kids can stand next to him going 'daddy, daddy etc for 5 minutes and I have to say in a loud voice 'DH' he startles looks up and sees dc.
He is concentrating on whatever is in front of him, sometimes just thinking hard about it really, and has tuned out the surroundings

Now I tell them to touch him, tap his arm etc, that really helps.

My dcs will also repeat back instructions and then when I go upstairs they are playing, just because by the time they get upstairs, the toy in front of them is so much more important than the instruction from 2 minutes ago. But when focussed can follow complex instructions.

livinginwonderland Fri 10-May-13 15:27:26

DP does this, especially if the TV is on or he's on a video game or his phone. You can sit there and go "DP. DP. DP." and nothing, you literally have to shake his arm or go "OI DP" pretty loudly before he realises. 99% of the time he has no idea you've said anything, so I've just learned to shake him or tap him or wave in front of his face to get his attention as opposed to calling his name or asking him something.

I tune out too. The other day I was sat in bed reading and DP came in from the shower, got dressed and spent 5 minutes trying to talk to me and I had no idea he was even back in the room until he sat down next to me and waved in front of my book! blush

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