advice: son refers to himself in third person perspective



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drybones
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Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:16 pm

Hi all

I noticed my son has been increasingly referring to himself in the third person perspective e.g.

"Bobby would like a drink now please"

Instead of "I would like a drink now please"

He has not been diagnosed and 10 years old.

I was wondering if anyone else has any views/comments/experience on such behaviour?



mgran
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Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:21 pm

I used to do that. It helped me feel calmer to fictionalise my life by thinking in narrative, and putting myself in the third person. So, for example, when my Dad shouted at me (can't remember what for, now) I flounced out of the room and slammed the door, thinking to myself, "She ran upstairs to her bedroom, and slammed the door." I remember this, because my Dad ruined my narrative by bursting in asking who did I think I was walking out on him! This wasn't part of my text, and it completely threw me.

Anyway, the point is, I thought in the third person in situations where I didn't feel in control, for example, social situations like school. Putting everything at one remove made me feel more in control, and the events therefore became less scary.

Perhaps your son is experimenting with developing a sense of self that he is comfortable with in different environments. Is anything stressing him out at the moment?



neves
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Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:22 am

mgran wrote:
I used to do that. It helped me feel calmer to fictionalise my life by thinking in narrative, and putting myself in the third person. So, for example, when my Dad shouted at me (can't remember what for, now) I flounced out of the room and slammed the door, thinking to myself, "She ran upstairs to her bedroom, and slammed the door." I remember this, because my Dad ruined my narrative by bursting in asking who did I think I was walking out on him! This wasn't part of my text, and it completely threw me.

Anyway, the point is, I thought in the third person in situations where I didn't feel in control, for example, social situations like school. Putting everything at one remove made me feel more in control, and the events therefore became less scary.

Perhaps your son is experimenting with developing a sense of self that he is comfortable with in different environments. Is anything stressing him out at the moment?



I personally haven't heard from an Asperger's related traits, but judging from Mgran's reply that is clearly something I didn't know. The description sounds extremely plausible in the Asperger's sense, seeing it as a form of coping. Perhaps you could look into it a little further, maybe talk to someone about this?



ValleyBridetoBe
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Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:28 am

I used to do that, probably when I was 12 or 13.

I was diagnosed at age 21. I'm going to be 24 later this year.
I have "words" I use, such as Furby. When I am nervous I will say "I'm a Furby" or just "Furby". I used to be a "teapot", "giant catfish", "Easter hippo", "running cow". Whatever I like at the time.



Tracker
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Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:26 pm

I dont know. I refer to myself as we or us when I am alone, but that is because I am talking to myself, so there is more then one perspective going on. But generally not by my name. Unless it is causing a major problem (which I don't see how it could) dont worry about it. Just make sure he is clear that when writing he should use the term I or me, as not to confuse people.



redwulf25_ci
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Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:34 pm

There are a lot of good suggestions about what might be going here. There could be a simpler one though. He could be copying a behavior he saw in a television show or a movie. This is often the cause of odd statements from the child I do respite care for, he's just dropping a quote/copying a behavior that only worked in the context of the show/movie.



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Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:25 pm

redwulf25_ci wrote:
There are a lot of good suggestions about what might be going here. There could be a simpler one though. He could be copying a behavior he saw in a television show or a movie. This is often the cause of odd statements from the child I do respite care for, he's just dropping a quote/copying a behavior that only worked in the context of the show/movie.


I second this theory. Talking to oneself in the third person is often either a comedy tool or a way to emphasize cuteness in anime, which is the type of TV I am most familiar with. Of course, other cartoons and even some live-action comedies use this as well. It's possible he picked this up from some character from a favorite TV show or something. A common autistic trait is to copy sayings and/or behaviors off of TV shows and other media, which means that if he watches a TV show where one of the characters does this, then yes,, it is probably related to his autism. However, speaking to oneself from 3rd person perspective isn't necessary an autistic trait in itself.

Hope this helps. - Roxas


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valkyrieraven88
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Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:34 pm

Sometimes I do that to be silly. I'll be talking to my boyfriend or friends or family and say, "Kathryn has a penguin!" or something like that. Then I'll go back to normal speech. It could be nothing. You might want to ask him about it.



angelbear
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Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:08 pm

My son (4.5) has always reversed his pronouns. For example, if he wanted to go outside, he would say "You want to go outside." Or he might make a comment like "He likes ice cream" when he is actually meaning to say "I like ice cream" He will sometimes use his name in a sentence like the OP mentioned but not as much as reversing the pronouns. My theory is that autistics repeat a lot of what is said, so they hear someone else saying "Do you want to go outside?" So they think that it makes sense that they are "you" I think this is pretty common with ASD



AutismMerch
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Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:34 pm

Hi Drybones,

My understanding is that it is common for folks on the spectrum to use third person pronouns or 'we' to refer to themselves. I've seen this discussed in the Autism literature. The theory being that self awareness or sense of self is slightly weaker in those on the spectrum than "neurotypicals", especially at a younger age.

But this does not mean that only people with an ASD do this. There could be other reasons for it.

I'm no expert in child development but it could be a matter of child logic - You call him Bobby, so he calls himself Bobby too!



Callista
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Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:38 pm

It's not an uncommon mistake to make in speech. Other people refer to you in the third person; it's only natural to assume that you should be doing the same thing. Even once you figure out pronouns, it can take extra thought and just be easier to slip back into the easier third-person language.

Don't worry too hard about it. It's an autistic trait, but it's a fairly harmless one. You could teach him how to use pronouns, if he hasn't learned already; at ten years old, it's probably coming up in English class anyhow, so it'll benefit his schooling.


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Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:53 am

angelbear wrote:
My son (4.5) has always reversed his pronouns. For example, if he wanted to go outside, he would say "You want to go outside." Or he might make a comment like "He likes ice cream" when he is actually meaning to say "I like ice cream" He will sometimes use his name in a sentence like the OP mentioned but not as much as reversing the pronouns. My theory is that autistics repeat a lot of what is said, so they hear someone else saying "Do you want to go outside?" So they think that it makes sense that they are "you" I think this is pretty common with ASD


Not using or misusing pronouns is common in autistic children. You are right this happens because when they begin speaking they repeat what was last said to them.
This is one example:
“Give it to me,” I say to a child.
“Me give it to you,” the child says.
The last word said "Me" is were the autistic child began to echo what was said to him/her. All kids (including NT) learn to speak throught repetition of what was said to them but in autistics the repetition is stronger and lasts for more time till it is replaced by more advanced symbolic language. Their thinking is very concrete. I guess you shouldn't worry as this should fade away with time. I read that in rare cases it lasts until teen years.



AbuNoor
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Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:34 pm

My daughter often refers to herself in the third person. For example, if we are trying to talk to her about something that she doesn't want to talk about (e.g., that we don't slam doors) she'll avoid eye contact and say, "Don't talk to Noor."



drybones
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Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:02 pm

Thanks for the replies folks!

He certanily is under a lot of stress at moment (family breakdown, divorce etc) which may be connected. And regarding copying TV etc. This is a very big influence on his play routines. He loves to play alone and act out scenes from shows he has seen in very dramatic ways almost completley oblivious to anyone else in same room and always involving not just physical movements but speech as well.

I don't worry much about this because he is still very sociable with his older sister and other children at school.



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Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:17 am

AutismMerch wrote:
Hi Drybones,

My understanding is that it is common for folks on the spectrum to use third person pronouns or 'we' to refer to themselves. I've seen this discussed in the Autism literature. The theory being that self awareness or sense of self is slightly weaker in those on the spectrum than "neurotypicals", especially at a younger age.

But this does not mean that only people with an ASD do this. There could be other reasons for it.

I'm no expert in child development but it could be a matter of child logic - You call him Bobby, so he calls himself Bobby too!


People with AS are mentaly younger than their physical age. Given time, I bet he will grow out of this.


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