Saturday, 7 May 2011

Jealousy In Children

We started our archery course today. It was NOT a success! When I booked I decided not to tell the organiser Owen was autistic as the goal is to find a hobby that brings out the strengths of his autism and not its weaknesses.

During the lesson, Owen became frustrated and impatient when being shown how to shoot. He became fixated on the two other groups that were progressing faster than us and having their target moved further and further away. He was crying, telling the instructor to shut up, getting cross with me for missing the target and saying he had a headache (which usually occurs when he get too stressed). (On a positive note he did say sorry after saying shut up). The instructor did ask Owen not to speak to his Mum so rudely. The instructor would have been more sympathetic had I told them about Owen autism. I usually do tell people as I think it helps them understand why Owen behaves as he does. I left feeling embarrassed, confused, upset with Owen. When we got in the car I gave Owen my usual lecture on why he couldn't have tried harder to behave and that I felt embarrassed, what must they think of us etc etc. What cut me short was Owens utter silence. After almost 1 hour of silence Owen said "when will they invent a machine to take away emotions". I asked him how he was felling and he said "jealous". I asked him why and he said because the other groups were better than us and he wanted our target moved too. I was almost unable to respond firstly because it broke my heart but more importantly that he was able to identify such as complex emotion that had resulted in the collapse of Owen being able to cope with the lesson. We spent the remainder of the journey discussion jealously, how to cope with it and what is an acceptable and unacceptable way to respond to the emotion.

Social Stories for Jealousy

I Feel Jealous (Paperback) (ISBN: 0750214058 )
Brian Moses

Jealousy and the Theory of Mind Connection

In neurotypical children, that is, children who have no underlying neurological disorder such as autism, self is seen as a separate entity. There is an understanding after the preschool years, that others have thoughts and feelings that do not necessarily match your own. Some empathy can take place, because there is an understanding of feelings that others have, even if that understanding is rudimentary.

In autism, there is a marked difficulty in identifying and recognizing others’ feelings. It can be hard for the child with autism to put himself in someone else’s shoes, because he doesn’t even realize that person has shoes that are different than his own. This is why many children with autism overreact to imagined slights. They aren’t being difficult. They really believe when you accidentally hit them with your elbow that you meant to do it.


  1. Wow, what an extraordinary way for Owen to work through and express his feelings. I've just started reading 'The Way I See It', by Temple Grandin, a 60-year-old academic who is autistic and who has spent her lifetime coming to understand what she felt as a child - and still does - and explaining it to others. If you haven't already read it, I'll let you know if I find it helpful, and if it might help you and Owen talk about this stuff.

  2. Read the Temple Grandin book today. She's a little didactic at times, and her views about 'good' upbringing and behaviour reflect her age, but even those ideas are interesting given that they are expressed from the perspective of someone with autism. In general, it's a fabulous read. Incredibly illuminating with regard to the many ways that people with autism - from high-functioning to non-verbal - think, feel, respond and learn. I borrowed the book I've read from a friend. I'm sure she'd be happy to lend it on if you'd like to see it.

  3. I would love to read it but may invest in a copy as it takes me ages to read books. I have heard about Temple many times. She was recently mentioned in a book about a Dad taking is autistic son across the Mongolian desert. He said Temple referred to people with autism as a bring between, music, science or animals and neurotipicals people. I liked this observation! We are a bridge for the meer neurotypicals.