What is up with this child?
July 2, 2012 9:28 AM Subscribe
I watch a 10-year-old girl whose behavior is very strange and I'd like to get to the bottom of it. She's a family member, and no one seems to take me very seriously when I mention her oddities. I spend ~20 hours with her weekly, and the more time I spend with her, the more concerned I am. Many details inside.
posted by sarahgrace to Human Relations (62 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For the sake of anonymity, I'll refer to the little girl as A. From the time A was born, she has been a little off. As a baby, our entire family always had to force her to eat and she stayed sickly - almost to the point where we were all worried she was failure-to-thrive. When she was a toddler, she would do out of control things like spitting in people's faces and walking around during family dinners in her panties with her hand down them, touch herself, and then smell her hand. Her parents usually just let these things fly, but even when they corrected her she just didn't change.
A has shown a distinct lack of empathy throughout her life. She would hit and break her toys when she was little, and now that she's 10 she talks about how she hopes that her current pets will die so she can get new ones. When her grandma passed away when she was 7 she never showed any sadness, not even at the funeral. This really concerns me more than anything she does.
When A was around 8, she gained a huge amount of weight but the distribution of if was unlike anything I had ever seen. Her legs stayed a perfectly normal size, and also her arms and her stomach for the most part - all of her weight went to her face and neck. The weight gain was so sudden that in a matter of a few weeks it was shocking. This was concerning, but she keeps gaining more and more weight in the same areas which is just so strange it blows me away.
The little quirks that A has are the most strange. She's been obsessed with bodily functions her whole life - especially farts. For years, every other sentence she would say would be about farting. I could understand this behavior in a little boy, but a girl? From ages 2-10? She also has no interest in "girly" things. Her hygiene has been horrible for years - I found out last week that her mom hadn't made her wash her hair in 3 weeks since she had been swimming every day. As far as I know her parents still bathe her as well, and she refuses to let them dry her hair so they just let her drip all over their hardwood floors. I've witnessed them trying to brush her hair and she screams so loudly that I would think she was being injured. This refusal to allow anyone to brush her hair resulted in a huge dreadlock in the back of her hair last summer, which her parents stupidly spent hours brushing out instead of giving her a logical consequence of cutting her hair.
A is completely negative about everything, and has this incredibly cruel streak in her. When she can see something bothers you, she just digs at it. I went swimming with her and she pointed out my cellulite and stretch marks multiple times. Another instance was when her grandfather had told her that bees only sting lazy people, and she asked me why I wasn't stung all the time since I'm so lazy. No matter how strict I am with her about the ways she speaks to me it doesn't change anything. I give her consequences that fit the situation and she never seems to learn. A great example - it took our family YEARS (at least 6) to make her thank people when they gave her things, but even now it's obvious she does not want to thank anyone for anything.
A has this refusal to grow up - she still talks like a baby often, calling me "Gace" (my name is Grace) and acting all "cutesy". She also often refuses to fix her own food, even if it's something like cereal. She has no friends at school which doesn't make sense to me, because when I was in elementary school it seemed like the "annoying kids" grew out of that stage and ended up having friends at least by the 5th grade (the grade A is entering). When I compare her to other 10/11 year olds I know, she is terribly behind. While they're playing team sports, doing pageants, and hanging out with friends she wants to color and play pretend. She also will ask the same questions over and over again - mainly asking your opinion on things she makes (she has an obsession with crafting).
I know something is off with this kid - I just can't figure out what. I can't decide if she's just a spoiled little girl (her parents give her almost anything she wants) or if we are dealing with some type of high-functioning autism/effects of abuse. A relative on the other side of the family mentioned to me that she thought something was wrong with A, and this relative is a nurse which is what really got me thinking. If it is helpful at all she has a few health issues such as a speech impediment, bad vision, and a possible heart issue that may have been her lying for attention. I
Thank you for any input on this. I am just at my wit's end trying to understand why this child acts the way she does. If I can pinpoint a possible problem, I can hopefully find a solution.