My 4 year old stepson does not seem to grasp emotions or situations very well at all. He'll see a plane crash on tv, and start cracking up and making crashing noises, etc. He saw a woman fall to her knees crying and he started laughing hysterically. When I or his Daddy lecture him, he doesn't seem phased at all about being in trouble, and when he realizes he's in trouble (by us sending him to the corner) he falls apart like he had no idea what just happened. He really does not seem to respond to any large emotion except excitement.
Is this typical behavior? Is he still learning to decipher emotions and situations? My 2 year old daughter is extremely intuitive and can identify "happy" "sad" and "grumpy" with her words and she expresses concern/joy/anger/etc at the appropriate times, so my 4 year old NOT showing that concerns me.
Listen to your mommy instincts. If you feel like something is amiss, then it probably is. Have your son evaluated by a Developmental Pediatrician. It can take a while to get in to see one, but if there is any chance that your son is on the autism spectrum, the sooner you find out the sooner you can get help!
My son has autism. He was diagnosed at age 3. The Developmental Pediatrician asked me why I had "waited so long" to get an appointment. I told him that my regular pediatrician thought it might be a phase and that we should wait and see. The DP asked me if my mommy instincts had told me something was wrong. I told him that of course they were. I wish I had listened to them sooner!
No shame in getting the evaluation. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll get a diagnosis. The best thing is you'll find out he's a typical kid with a macabre sense of humor. Either way, best to know, right?
Couldn't hurt to have him evaluated. He should be showing all kinds of emotion and by age 4 should be showing sympathy, empathy and all that. I would definitely have him tested, it's better to find out now if it's just him being himself or if something is amiss. Good luck.