My Son's Lack In Social Skills And Self Esteem

by Lisa
(Casselberry, FL )

My son was diagnosed at age four with SID. He was in occupational therapy until he was in first grade. He is now 11 years old and in sixth grade. He is very sensitive and gets frustrated very quickly. He is lacking in social skills. I can't get him to call up a friend or ride a bike to his friend's house. He isn't very coordinated, so he doesn't want to join any sports. He has very low self esteem.

He just recently started again having problems with transistions. If we are in the car, I need t tell him where we are going to stop. If I decide to stop somewhere else first, he gets very upset and angry that I didn't tell him. He belongs to Boy Scouts, but the problem that they are having is that he cries and gets upset very easily with activities. If he has his mind made up that he can't do something or this is where he wants to go, he gets upset if they don't allow him to do it. He is slow at the activities and gets upset because he can't do them. Especially the activities that take coordination .

I am beside myself. I want him to be able to control his feelings and be able to become more sure in himself. Right now, he is having a very lonely life. Please advise if anything comes to mind. Does he need to go see an Occupational Therapist again?

The SPD Help Line Answers

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for writing, recognizing your son's difficulties, for reaching out for help, and caring so very much about your son. He surely needs your help and support more than ever right now, and I am glad you are there!

First, the simple answer to your question about getting him back into OT... the answer is YES! It is clear that his SPD is affecting his everyday life and important social and developmental skills for his age. This NEEDS to be addressed. If it is not, he may very likely choose unhealthy ways of coping with his frustration, isolation, and "pain". We've seen it happen. NOW is the time to get him the help he needs.

The OT needs to have specialized training in sensory processing/sensory integration theory and treatment techniques. If you need help finding a good OT with this experience, please read:

How To Find An Occupational Therapist For SPD

Sensory Integrative OT... What You Need To Know Before Starting

Certainly, the underlying SID/SPD issues need to be addressed which will in turn help him with his motor planning/coordination issues, social issues, anxiety regarding changes in plans, and his self-esteem. It is not surprising, at 11, you are seeing a "flare up" of his SPD symptoms. The pre-pubescent and/or pubescent years appear to affect SPD symptoms in many children. Clearly, things are not working properly right now and I absolutely encourage going through OT again.

Additionally, I feel that counseling could be very helpful for him; giving him the tools for coping until his processing issues improve. He is definitely struggling and needs your love and support, and some professional guidance more than ever.

One more thing... does HE enjoy Boy Scouts? Would he be willing/able to take a break from it until some of these issues settle daown with OT and counseling? Ireally would recommend that as it is not working for him (possibly hurting him more than helping??), especially regarding the social skills. BUT, that said, I am also concerned that he still engages socially in some way with his peers (as I know you want as well). Perhaps there is something else he can do with less physical involvement (I know, harder to find for boys that age) and/or with smaller groups? At minimum, get friends to come over YOUR house for now?? Can you both work on that? Counseling will definitely help there as well.

Believe me... I understand the social skills issues. I can not get my daughter to call anyone either! She does enjoy texting though, so that helps her make plans with her friends without the issues of those unpredictable/anxiety provoking phone calls. (I bought her a pay-as-you-go cell phone, mostly for that purpose, which is working well).

Your son needs help. He is probably demanding more control because he is feeling more and more out of control. It makes sense, really.

Thank you for helping him and tuning into his needs. Give us an update or comment when you can, ok? I would love to know where things go from here and any progress you and he are making.

Take good care.
Michele Mitchell

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