Temperament develops over one’s life span, reinforced by one’s experiences. One temperament scale shows a person can be seen by others as being:
- Risk taker
- Defiant confrontational
< My Thoughts > And, then there are ‘degrees’ of each of these characteristics. When working with your child, assume more of the role of ‘coach’, rather than parent or teacher.
If you assume the role of ‘coach’ then perhaps you can more readily match the child’s ‘needs, & preferences, & strengths’ with the tasks at hand. In other words, try distancing yourself as parent; acting more as if you would interact with someone else’s child if you were coaching them on a sports team.
Knowing a child’s temperament can also help you keep them motivated. Rivers & Stoneman (2008), in a study of 50 families found that ‘temperament’ is a relatively stable individual difference or characteristic. They say it is rooted in the child’s biology and influenced as the child develops, by the environment and their maturity.
For example, Impulsivity – has a problem with negative emotions and self-control. Then there is Giving up versus Conscientiousness – staying with it even if the the child perceives the task or problem as difficult. Knowing this helps with ‘differential parenting.’
Siblings noted that when parents acted differently towards their typically developing children, it helped the siblings’ progress. They understood the ‘parental difference’ and did not try to match their ASD sibling’s behavior by regressing in order to get their parents’ attention.
Important to know too, is that the typically developing siblings in the study expressed their overall ‘happiness’ at being included in helping their parents understand their need to feel included. They wanted to be part of predicting and dealing with the ASD sibling’s behavior. “When my parents include me, I feel like an ‘insider’, not an ‘outsider’ to what is going on with my parent’s attention.”
Rivers, J., & Stoneman, Z. (2008). Child Temperaments, Differential Parenting, and the Sibling Relationships of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V38: p1740-1750.
More about TEMPERAMENT –
< My Thoughts > Matching your child’s needs, preferences, and strengths to a program, therapy, or school placement is one place to start. Combining information from multiple sources you can begin to identify what will work for you and what may work for your child. In an attempt to ‘narrow’ things down, is your child a ‘morning’ person or an ‘afternoon’ or ‘evening’ person?
Both Sonny and I are ‘later in the day’ people. Dad thank goodness is a ‘morning’ person. He hits the floor running. What do you and your child enjoy doing together? Some mornings, after meds and all the toys are ‘lined-up’, Sonny may bring me a coloring book. He used to attempt to color, but after a severe seizure, that skill seemed to disappear.
Although he may pick a color for me to use, or acknowledge a page he wants me to color. This is about our time together, NOT about ‘getting the job done’. Because his attention span is different, on different days, he may decide after a few minutes that we need to move on to scouring the cupboards and shelves for a ‘toy’ he has in his mind that he wants. Usually it’s an activity ‘of the moment’, but sometimes it’s an “I want it and I want it NOW!” moment. I go with the flow. If we can’t find it and anxiety starts setting in, then Sonny usually gets Dad involved. You know, the ‘get’er done‘ person. Smiles.
When thinking about what you need (very important), and what you want for your child (critically important) then think about ‘achievable goals’ and the process of promoting independence and meeting your child’s emotional needs.
Many parents get ‘frazzled’ when professionals attempt to ‘LABEL’ their child. And in a sense, figuring out your child’s temperament is asking for another ‘LABEL’ so to speak. Labels are extremely important to the law, to schools, to programs, to insurance companies, and to people you didn’t even know would ask. You want to ‘know’ your child well enough to say, “How will the system best serve us?” “Under which ‘label’ will my child receive the most services or be placed in the best setting?”
You want to make certain that the combination of services and programs, work effectively together, will lead to better things and again… meet your child’s emotional needs and promote his or her eventual independence. Also, as growth occurs and skills improve, the definition of child’s strengths and abilities may shift. If you are ‘locked’ into a program or intervention, and have mortgaged the house to pay for it, then this could be devastating to the family.
At this point, it may be helpful to perform a pencil & paper task. Try a first attempt at gauging your child’s temperament. You may want to see how your temperament compares to your child’s or others in the family. This is just one assessment scale of many, so see how it goes and look online for others which may also be helpful.
< My Thoughts > The BIG FIVE model of personality assessment is one of several models that are out there in the world of psychology & psychiatry. Here is one just focused on children.
Temperament Assessment Scale for Children – Retrieved from: collab4kids.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Symposium2015Griffin1.pdf
By answering the following questions, you may increase your understanding of the temperament of your child.
1. Activity Level. How much does the child wiggle & move around when being read to, sitting, or playing alone?
High Activity 1 3 5 Low Activity
2. Regularity. Is the child regular about eating times, sleeping times, & bowel movements?
Regular 1 3 5 Irregular
3. Adaptability. How quickly does the child adapt to changes in his/her schedule or routine? Or, adapt to new places?
Adapts quickly 1 3 5 Slow to adapt
4. Approach/Withdrawal. How does the child usually react the 1st time to new people, foods, toys, & activities?
Approaches 1 3 5 Withdraws
5. Physical Sensitivity. How aware is the child of small differences in noise, temperature, taste, & clothing?
Not sensitive 1 3 5 Very sensitive
6. Intensity of Reaction. How strong or violent are the child's reactions? Does the child laugh & cry energetically, or does s/he just smile & fuss mildly?
High intensity 1 3 5 Mild reaction
7. Distractibility. Is the child easily distracted, or does s/he ignore distractions? Will the child continue to work or play when others are present?
Very distractible 1 3 5 Not distractible
8. Positive or Negative Mood. How much of the time does the child show pleasant, joyful behavior compared with unpleasant crying & fussing behavior?
Positive mood 1 3 5 Negative mood
9. Persistence. How long does the child continue with one activity? Does the child usually get distracted if it’s perceived to be too difficult?
Long focus span 1 3 5 Short focus span
10. Emotional Sensitivity. How does your child to respond emotionally to understanding feelings of self & others?
Not sensitive 1 3 5 Very sensitive
< My Thoughts >
Some people can soothe themselves in an anger triggering event. Some are resilient to challenging events. Most Temperament Assessment Scales represent a range between two extremes. In the real world, most people lie somewhere in between the two polar ends of these extremes.
Many high functioning adolescents with ASD on the Asperger’s side of the spectrum may begin to notice how they differ from their peers. They can have significant social, emotional, and behavioral differences which influence how they process their world.
Some differences include –
- intense anxiety in response to change
- fear of specific objects or unpredictable events
- frustration and anger related to an inability to understand social conventions
- anxious tenseness
- modulation their attention
- obsessive behaviors
- severe temper tantrums & meltdowns
- resent intrusions from the outside world
- low tolerance or hyper-frustration with interruption of routines
- unusual intense emotional & behavioral reactions
- difficulty in understanding the feelings of others
- one-sided conversations
- want peer relationships, but can’t sustain them
- idiosyncrasies others don’t understand
Also, possibly interpreting others benign behavior as having hostile intent, due to negative feelings about themselves. Or, misperceiving others actions, actions or purpose.
< My Thoughts > “…misperceiving others actions, actions or purpose.”
Adolescents and adults with Asperger’s, while on the Autism Spectrum, have different wants and emotional needs. It is important that as things change, the support and intervention can shift with them. The Asperger’s adolescent should also have every opportunity to prepare for college and/or job training. In their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) they should have an Individual Transition Plan to address this.
Nicpon, M., Doobay, A., & Assouline, S. (2010). Parent, Teacher, & Self Perceptions of Psychosocial Functioning in Intellectually Gifted Children & Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V40/8: p1028-1038.
END of #5B Know Your Child: TEMPERAMENT with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
NEXT will be… #5C: Know Your Child: UNDERSTAND AUTISM… Under: What to do While You Wait…
NOTE: Focused Extended Book Reviews will be included soon, for additional real-world knowledge of this topic.