Autism or Just an Awkward Kid?

A concerned mom came to me seeking insights on her son’s behavior.  She explained, “Sometimes Joseph can seem zoned out and not always in tune with what it going on around him. He can be socially awkward at times. Joseph can also be so hyper focused on something like his hobby and interest. He can get easily bored and likes to be pretty active all of the time which is a good thing but sometimes it is hard for him to relax.” This mom wanted to know if her son might have autism, ADHD, or anxiety so she knew how to best support him.

Upon meeting Joseph for the first time, he presented as a well-groomed and athletic adolescent.  He was slightly rigid in his social mannerisms as if he had been taught skills such as greeting someone by looking them in the eye and shaking their hand.  While this was an appropriate behavior, his interaction came across as scripted or practiced. While talking with him I learned he had an advanced vocabulary and could converse about many different topics. He understood humor and could joke around. Joseph also understood idioms such as when I was referencing a told secret and said, “She let the cat out of the bag.” He understood what that meant.

My school neuropsychological testing with Joseph revealed two main contributing factors.  First, he had low cognitive flexibility which is a fancy term for flexible thinking.  His mental rigidity contributed to him being a blacker and whiter thinker. He saw things his way which created his social awkwardness. The second factor was slower processing speed which helped explain why he seemed zoned out at times.  In certain situations Joseph quickly used up his mental fuel which resulted in mental fatigue. When his occurred he disengaged and seemed out of touch with what was going on around him.

I helped create a plan and recommended certain exercises he could do to improve these areas.  Call (561) 625 4125 if you are concerned about your child and would like understanding and answers. We test kids and young adults ages two* through college. Check out my books if you want to learn more about ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or dysgraphia.

*Autism testing is the only testing which starts at age 2.