This is a very interesting question and I'm glad you came to me because I sense disaster already. First the positive: having a sociopath child can be just as good, if not better than having a neurotypical child. There is nothing keeping your child from being a great, high achieving, functional member of society. I excel at many things, I have meaningful relationships with people, I have a very full life. I also suffered a lot to get where I am, and most sociopaths have similar stories. Luckily for me, my parents managed to do a lot of things right, and I love them for that. It could have gone very badly, I think, and I appreciate the fact that it didn't.
I think the biggest thing that parents of sociopaths need to learn is to realize when you are helping and when you are hurting. For instance, you should not tell other people (including school officials or anyone else) that your child may be a sociopath. I understand the impulse. I have a little relative who has had significant hearing loss, which is immediately obvious to anyone. Even if it wasn't, though, the parents are more than willing to make it known, particularly if it would affect the child's schooling. Nowadays we expect schools and teachers to be understanding of children's individual strengths and weaknesses. This "legitimately" includes autism and asperger's, but does not include sociopathy. People talk (even on this site) about the forced execution of sociopaths and how they would kill a sociopath baby if they could. Sociopathy (even if applicable) is a label that could forever inhibit your child's life and development. If everyone knows your child is a sociopath, they will treat him differently. He will not be given the benefit of the doubt like other children will be. Once he knows that every anonymous bad thing will be blamed on him, he will do only bad things because at least that way he will get the pleasure of the thing before he gets punished for it. Sociopath children are very very sensitive to perceived fairness and incentive structures (more on that later). If I were you, depending on what you have told the school official, I would play it off as much as possible. I don't know what you could do, but maybe tell the counselor you were just trying to warn him about the sociopath family member you mentioned, or even better trying to warn him of the evils of trying to diagnose someone before 18 (the "official" age for diagnosing a sociopath), e.g., don't make the mistake of doing that with my child, otherwise I will pursue legal action. You could suggest your family history includes asperger's, and you're concerned about your son. I would also do some research to try find a doctor who will readily diagnose your son as having asperger's. Unlike sociopathy, asperger's is an "acceptable" diagnosis that can be used to explain your sons other antisocial symptoms without fear of reprisal.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Raising a sociopath child (part 2)