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  • Hi, has anyone experienced an increase/decrease in empathy as PDA gets older. Our son is nearly 14 it seems to be decreasing. Case in point is his mother attended day surgery and came home groggy and tired . PDA son has a routine at night whereby he demands his mother fill his water bottle and make him hot chocolate then bring it upstairs. It is only directed towards his mother. If i offer to do it he refuses saying i "contaminate it!!" Anyway, he made his demand and was refused on the grounds that his mum was feeling dizzy and could he at least start the process. This sent him into a verbal volley of abuse and the demand ramped up until eventually she gave in much to his delight. He would not carry the hot chocolate upstairs himself or let me do it and even blocked his mum on the stairs as she tried to go to bed to the extent i had to sop her falling. Once he had got his way and we had gone to bed he then demanded biscuits and the whole process started again. At no point did he ask how his mum was or display any sign of concern. I just wondered how on earth a bit of empathy can be instilled if at all!!! and to minimise his totla power control over mother.
  • Em83Em83
    Posts: 68
    Hi PaulandElena we have a 9 year old who struggles with empathy to people! animals are a different matter so we use animals to try to teach him but how much he gets it I really do not know. The need for no change and absolute control overrides everything for him! It is one of the most worrying things for us as he really does not understand the feelings of others. We try to teach him what it means when someone is poorly, that things can change and he cannot always have control when someone is poorly but it is so hard! I hope someone has some more advice.
  • Hi
    I can offer a little bit of advice. Empathy comes from developing Theory of Mind and the use of social stories can help in this process. If you're not familiar with social stories the school should be able to write one for you.
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,138
    We find that our daughter’s empathy changes depending upon how anxious she is. As she grows older I have definitely seen her personal understanding and empathy grow however equally this can seemingly vanish if something happens she has no control over. If she’s feeling unwell we also notice she struggles more but then her anxiety often rises because she doesn’t know how to manage the feeling of being unwell or the physical changes that will be experienced. The dials have been adjusted and something has to go often something that is hard to do and doesn’t come as naturally. Hope that makes a little sense.
  • Rubytuesday
    Posts: 292
    Hi, I have definitely seen a change as my daughter has got older. She now wants to be kind to people if they are unwell/upset and understands that she should be, but often finds it hard to actually carry this out. For example, a relative is currently in hospital - I know she wants to make him a card but hasn't managed to do it yet.
  • dirtmother
    Posts: 897
    Teenagers without any particular issues appear to have a decrease in ability to empathise.

    But what you may be seeing here may be nothing to do with a lack of empathy, simply an inability to respond flexibly to the demands that feeling empathy imposes ie change his routine, not be in control. The greater the anxiety, quite possibly, the greater the apparent 'unconcern'

    My son with PDA evidenced shedloads of empathy from a very young age and far more than his brother who is neurotypical. I don't think he's lost it at 20. After his grandfather died one of the first things he asked was how Granny was.

    But, for example, spontaneously picking and presenting a bunch of daisies to your Mum because you can see that she is sad the cat has died is a very different demand to coping with being told Mum is too ill to get out of bed and sort out X for you.

  • PanDAPanDA
    Posts: 67
    Someone being poorly can be very overwhelming because of the broken routine and lack of control. When we are anxious and overwhelmed it is almost impossible for us to show empathy. I use the word “show” deliberately because in my experience the empathy is always there but it’s the ability to show it that we struggle with.

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