Recently diagnosed with Aspergers.. Will my son ever have friends?

Shelly - posted on 06/21/2010 ( 35 moms have responded )

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My son is 9 years old and was just recently diagnosed with Aspergers. He also has ADHD, but that was diagnosed years ago.. Anyway, my son would rather stay in his room ALL day with video games than play outside with other kids.. Its almost like he's a forgotten child... He will only come out to eat or shower.. Other than that he's content on being in there all the time... Will he ever want friendships? How do I get him interested? Like I said this is real new to us, not even a month, but Ive known for a long time that my child was socially awkward... but now I notice even more things.. like him obsessing over one or two topics... He is very bright in school.... He really has all the typical signs of Aspergers, so I wasnt shocked with the diagnosis, but now Im just not sure what to do with it!!!!

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Angela - posted on 07/03/2010

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Shelly,
My daughter is 13 and diagnosed with PDD/NOS (high functioning form of Aspergers) as well as ADD. She is exactly the same. She's very content to sit on the computer, read a book, or play a video game for the entire day. I tried enrolling her in things that 'required' interaction on her part to help socialize her, but all it did was traumatize because I didn't SEE the way other children treat her. She is extremely gifted (already started college courses through Duke), but socially she just doesn't get it.
This year I started her in counseling to help her 'learn' proper social skills. As much as I'd tried to teach them to her it just didn't work coming from MOM. But insurance pays for her counseling and the counselor is WONDERFUL. I never realized how terrified of rejection Kaleigh was and that it was just so much easier to happily do things by herself than RISK someone making fun of or rejecting her. The counselor does little things that force her to put herself out there and take those chances.
This summer she attended WKU for a summer college program for gifted children and made a couple of friends, which was HUGE for her (they allowed NO video games, computers, or electronics). After coming home one of her therapy assignments was to get a phone number of a child her age and the counselor coached her on HOW to gain someone else's interest in a conversation rather than conveying your own interests. She then had to place a 5 minute phone call and hold her girl's interest and write about what she'd learned about the other girl. During the conversation Kaleigh invited the girl to go to Six Flags with us and she accepted!!! For the first time in almost 9 years my daughter had a FRIEND go somewhere with her. And they had a GREAT time!! Whether they'll become great friends or not I don't know..but it has done SO much to boost her confidence, which gives me so much more hope. I felt like such a failure as a Mom that I couldn't teach my daughter how to have friends. But sometimes it just takes more than what we can give them.
So my best advice is don't be afraid to ask for help! A counselor is a great thing!! And limiting that computer/game time so that they have to come out of that shell some helps too.
I also push for Kaleigh to be the one to walk up and find an employee if we need one in a store, or to go ask a question...anything that forces her to interact with others.

Heather - posted on 07/03/2010

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My son is 12 with Aspergers and the best advice I can give is to tap into his interests in order to help him excel. He loves video games as well, so we use those as a positive behavior support mechanism. He can earn gaming time by making positive choices. He struglles with wanting to get out of the house, but I make it sound like it was his decision to go! :) For example, I would ask Would you like to go to the grocery store with me or the bank first? Then he commits to an answer and he feels like he was in control of the situation. He is currently enrolled in gymnastics and loves it, he was also on the youth football league in our area last year as well. We have worked on him getting outdoors more and he has recently started to enjoy fishing. As long as we give them opportunities to be social, it will become more familiar to them and less of an anxiety strain on them. Start small and get him involved in something and once that task is successfully completed you can reward him with game time!

Kristin - posted on 07/04/2010

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If you can, get him a dog. I got my son a dog shortly after he was diagnosed with Asperger's, and I saw an improvement in him almost immediately. Going outside to play with the dag, or take it for a walk got him away from the electronic games and out in the fresh air....feeding the dog gave him a sense of responsibility. But most importantly, Scamp has always accepted L just as he is. He listens when L needs to talk, and is always pleased to see him. The unconditional love makes L feel very special. My youngest daughter also ha Asperger's and she also has benefited from having a dog of her own (L would not share Scamp, as Scamp was his). Now S has fun playing fetch with Meikah. We call the dogs "therapy pets", which they are unofficially. We also have cats, and this has been great for explaining some parts of Asperger's to them. Most people are like dogs, they enjoy being in a pack and being together....cats are like people with Asperger's...they prefer to be by themselves a lot, and come for a cuddle when they feel like it. Pets can be very important for helping Autistic kids connect with someone. It's something to at least consider, and probably even a small pet like a turtle or mouse/rat/hamster will help. Learning to communicate with pets first can also help them connect with their peers....it opens up a way for them to relate to others. It will give them a way to start a conversation...."Do you have a dog? I do" is socially acceptable way to break the ice with anyone. You just have to teach them to let the other person talk about their dog too! LOL.

Hayley - posted on 07/02/2010

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hey im an aussie and my three year old has just been diagnosed with autism a week ago!! it is so new and confronting but i keep telling myself that my hubby and i will get there, family has been good support too, wish i could help more but im in the same boat as you atm, if you need to chat or learn anything you think you need to talk about or want to share then add me as a friend :)

Debby - posted on 06/26/2010

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Get him involved in activities that he shows interest in. Yes, he's going to want friendships, even if he doesn't know it. Yes, he has Asperger's, but he is a kid. The Asperger's just defines how the "wires connect". It doesn't define the person.

First, insist on outside time. Set a daily schedule. Aspies love schedules. Put time on there for everything, but also put a time slot for "free choice". This is the time where he gets to choose whatever he wants to do - even if it's sitting on the computer.

Second, check out the Cub Scout pack. With the prevalence of autism, adhd, aspergers today, there are bound to be other boys the same as him. And these kids know how to find each other. My son was in Cub Scouts and found another boy with Asperger in his den. Now they are 13 and in a Boy Scout troop that has 5 aspies and 4 with adhd. They all understand what it's like and they support each other. Oh, and 2 of the aspies are working on their Eagle projects (Eagle is the highest honor in Boy Scouts).

Third, check your local autism support group. They are there to help and they also have activities (or know of activities) for kids on the autism spectrum.

Fourth, seek out other parents in your school who have kids with aspergers or autism. This is going to take detective work and social skills on your part. The school keeps the list of kids very private. Observe other kids for the typical signs. Ask your son for the names of other kids in his resource room. Find a way to introduce yourself to the other parents and recommend play dates.

The key is support. You are going to need your own support circle - and so will your son. Right now, he might feel alone. He needs to know that there are many other kids like him. Once he meets up with those kids, he'll be more open.

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[deleted account]

Hi Shelley, I know your post was a year ago. Do you still check this site? How is your son doing now? I have an 8 yr. old son who is EXACTLY the same. I have not had him diagnosed but he was in early intervention.....He is in mainstream school but now I am really noticing the social differences. Where do you live? Your son sounds like a good friend for mine. Although mine could care less about having even one friend. Or leaving the house for that matter....Let me know how you all are doing..Jenny

Delana - posted on 07/07/2010

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Hi I know it's hard my daughter is almost 13 now. I pulled her out of mainstream school and put her into an ed support unit 4 years ago best thing I ever did. She is very much the same as your son she would prefer to stay by herself at home. I have tried multiple things to get her to play but it doesn't happen. Apparently she will associate with the kids in her class but has no interest outside. In saying this there are other kids in the centre with autism that do have friends I think it may just depend on the child. Jess will either listen to music all day or stay on the computer but she prefers to do this on her own.

Shari - posted on 07/06/2010

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I have a 7 year old son with PDD and ADHA he has the social problem too. We have him in speech therapy for they socialization part. It has been wonderful. I don't know if you have something avalible to you but I recommend it.

Tara - posted on 07/06/2010

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My seven year old michael was diagnosed with autism when he was five. He does the same thing your son does sit in front of the tv and play video games. But I just started seeing him play with other kids when we go out to the park or where ever. I think it takes time for a kid to feel comfortable around other people and kids. He will come around give him time.

Kelly - posted on 07/04/2010

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My son is exactly the same. He would much rather stay at home and play video games than play with other kids as well. I wish I knew what to tell you, but I too am new to this and really don't know what to do about it. Hopefully we can help one another. My son is 5 years old and also recently diagnosed.

[deleted account]

I have found a lot of helpful suggestions while reading all of these replies, thank you for the input, suggestions, and comments.

Joyce - posted on 07/03/2010

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Read, read, read, Shelly! There are finally some really good books out there to help you become familiar with your child's diagnosis. There are ways to draw him out of his room, including a lot of structure in his schedule and motivational rewards. A psychiatrist just told us that those things like staying alone in his room should be used as rewards for doing the other things he needs to be doing, instead of just letting them be his expected privileges. That's helped us with computer problems. Our son needs excercise, so we have a routine for excercise he must follow in order to "earn" the privilege of being on the computer. Blessings to you. Joyce

Angela - posted on 07/03/2010

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We breed and raise West Highland Terriers. My daughter is WONDERFUL with them. She helps bathe, walk, feed, and care for them. When she was away at college I think she actually missed her dog (Holi) as much as she did us!! She's had Holi since Kaleigh was just 3 years old, and they are truly the dearest of friends.

Faith - posted on 07/03/2010

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Look into getting a Therapy animal for your child. My aspie son had a lot of trouble making friends. Not only was the dog someone that he could play with but loved him unconditionally when other children wouldn't. Also I found that he learned more responsibility with feeding, walking etc. And other children always gravitate to animals and gives them something to start talking about!!!

Connie - posted on 07/01/2010

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Our son has autism and has all the same interests...we limit the time that he has on movies and video games and we rotate social outings with a service provider, school, or at home. We have made an extensive effort to bring our son out into the communtiy doing community things and by repeating the same places on the same days we have gotten to know other families and other children who have become "friends" with our son. Our son has a difficult time with peer relationships but he does value the ones he has and it seems that the righ kids come to him who "get' him....you need to be patient and bring him out into social situations that it would make it possible for himt o build relationships. Will he have friends? That is up to him but it is up to you to make it possible while he is still young. Good luck - you gotta get one to know one =) Cheers

Carrie - posted on 06/28/2010

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All of these posts sound just like my 11 year old son. He was diagnosed with AS just over a year ago, but I had thought it for a few years before. He doesn't like large groups, and has very few friends. He's been in scouts since 1st grade, but just this past year; his first year as a Boy Scout, he's started asking not to go. It's not as structured as Cub Scouts, so he's having a hard time with initiative and working on his own to work on merit badges. He'd much rather just stay home and play video games. We did join a pool this summer so we try to go there a few times a week for him to play with other kids and get out out the house. He does enjoy riding his bike, but it's just been so hot since he got out of school. I do like the ideas of scheduling time and doing chores to earn computer time. That's a struggle at our house when that's all he wants to do.

Andrea - posted on 06/27/2010

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My son was diagnosed with Autism at 3 1/2 after trying him on the gf/cf diet he started talking and they changed the diagnoses to Aspergers. He is now 10 years old and keeps to himself, a few months ago he drew a picture, he told us "this is what it would look like if I had a friend". We work on one issue at a time, the friend thing is the latest one, we have had a few talks to him about not taking control of every part of the games they play at school. He is really trying to make friends now because that is what is important to him right now, his teacher just told us he is making enormous progress. The other kids are starting to ask him to play with them! It just takes him longer to learn the social skill stuff. I like to take him into different social situations, then explain to him when he says or does something that upsets anyone. This seems to be working, he is slowly learning what is inappropiate. Focus on his skills to bring his confidence up. My son plays the piano and his teacher lets him teach the class to do origami projects. All the other kids have started to take Rubix cubes to school for my son to solve. When the other kids see him excel at something they really make an effort to talk to him about it, and stay in close contact with his teachers so you can work on the same issues at home and school. good luck!

Dee Dee - posted on 06/26/2010

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My son is 13yo, I have gotten him involved in sports, check to see if there is a Miracle League in your community it is a great organization that works with all kinds of disabilities, also, we are involved in Taekwondo and the instructor has certification in ADHD/Aspergers, he is also involved in the teen childcare staff with adult supervision) in our church. I gave him a few sketch pads and journals so he could draw or write what he is feeling which has been really helpful, I have revoked all video and computer game playing except for the weekend. Even though school is out you can never be too prepared and he's working on the schools reading list and book reports. Help him find his niche and encourage what he chooses, forcing it on him just makes for a more resistant behavior

Diane - posted on 06/26/2010

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I think Lisa's post is helpful where she talks about her husband who has asperger's. Even though her marriage isn't always easy, it helps to know that though her husband didn't receive any help as a child, he still grew up to have a wife and children! Isn't that something we all hope for our aspie kids? We ARE aware of their conditions and they are receiving help so there's no reason why they won't be able to have a happy life in terms of relationships in the future! x

Trudy - posted on 06/26/2010

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Our 14 year old son was diagnosed with H/F Autism only 2 years ago. But luckily we had been doing a lot of the right things anyway as we always knew he was a little different. You need to get your son away from the computer games and out of his bedroom. We have found that a reward system works best.
In our house computer games and x-box is only allowed on the weekends and both our boys have chores that must be done when they get home from school. They earn money for doing those chores but they are also fined for bad behaviour. They earn more if they do the chore without us asking and it is reduced the more times that they are asked to do their job. Chores include feeding the dog, washing the dishes (we even have a dishwasher in the house but it is only used when we have people over for dinner etc) They also have to hang out washing and bring it in, fold clothes and put them away in their rooms. Maybe if your son has a new computer game that he would like you could use a reward system so he can pay for it himself. Reward him for spending time outside his bedroom or doing something other than playing computer games. Our son never had any friends in primary school which broke our hearts when his brother brought friends home every weekend and after school. Now that he is attending high school he has managed to make a couple of friends who are probably a little socially awkward as well and can understand how he feels. They are all into computer games and computers in general and can chat for hours. Finding someone at school who is interested in the same things will really help your son learn social skills. Can I suggest a book called "A friend like Henry" by Nuala Gardner. It really helped me understand a lot of what my son was going through.
He signed up for the school musical, "Disco Inferno" last year and the high school teachers were great as they wrote in a special spot just for him when they realised that he had two left feet and wouldnt be able to cope with all the dance steps. They made him the DJ of the club so he spent most of his time on stage in the DJ booth but insisted that he participate in some of the easier dance roles. His grandparents travelled 720km by car to watch the show. Just to see his face at the end of the opening night was just precious as he felt like he had achieved something with a lot of hard work. Our son over the years has tried all the social sports, t-ball, football, rugby etc and just couldnt cope with the social skills required. He has been involved with the Scouting Movement here in Australia since he was 6 years old and has been able to maintain an acceptable level of social interaction. In the earlier years he would attend the group and spend most of the time off by himself but at least he was still out there with other children the same age somewhere other than school. Now he is a patrol leader and loving every minute of it teaching the younger kids what he has learnt. His younger brother and him attended the Australian Scouting Jamboree 2010 in Sydney, Australia which is over 2000 kms away from our home in January of this year and he came back from it with a new found enthusasim for life. He is planning now to go onto Venturers and maybe become a Scout Leader in the future. He also is into kart racing along with his Dad and brother which is another social activity that requires interaction but is a lone sport as well. You really need to help him find something physical that doesnt require total social interaction. Swimming or Bike Riding is great activity that doesnt require total social interaction.
It is up to you as parents to encourage him to try other things but then also be ready to fight when he objects to the changes in his life. It is your responsibilty as parents to be the leader even if you have to take him out into the world kicking and screaming. Believe us we have all been there and can totally understand. Dont forget that this site is a fantastic place to reach out and ask questions and maybe someone will be able to give you the answer that works. Or even just surf around and read what other people have written you dont know what you will find. Best of Luck
Trudy, Western Australia

Lisa - posted on 06/25/2010

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My son is more profoundly Autistic, so his behaviors are more entrenched. He is unaware of social appropriateness and not at a level where you could ever explain it to him. He looks like a normal 12 year old boy, so people who don't get it can be intrusive and downright cruel. Still, I have included him in everything all along, so he might benefit from things I might not realize he is absorbing. He is in a partial inclusion program at school, and his peers have grown up loving and accepting him the way he is. I try to keep a balance of expecting him to behave and trying to understand when he has little control over his compulsion to be in a separate world. His younger sister, by only 15 months, has helped a lot. She was diagnosed with PDD NOS as a baby; but now is socially, academically and intellectually advanced, if not normal. She is almost 11. She tends to block everything out when using the computer/DS/video games, etc. No one else notices it and I pull her out of it all the time. Here's the thing, and I don't want to scare other moms who are newer into this, but my husband has Aspergers. He is 48, so nobody knew about all of this when he was young, so there was no therapy, no awareness, no forced inclusion. Other people don't see it unless they know Autism. When I married him, I thought he was refreshingly sweet and not pushy. It took me a long time to realize what made him different. He is an amazingly intelligent and good person. But he cannot bond emotionally, he cannot understand some basic social cues, certain things just don't occur to him, and has no interest in things that "normal" married couples do. It's VERY hard from a marriage perspective and I've had to choose between having a normal marriage and remaining committed to him. I've chosen the latter. But from my unique perspective, I would encourage parents to both accept their ASD children for who they are AND push them to be as socially adept as you think they can handle because life goes way beyond school years and they will need these skills in the real world, not just to comply with societal rules, but to truly experience everything life has to offer them.

Nicole - posted on 06/25/2010

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Hi Shelly,
I am in the same boat as you. My daughter was just diagnosed also in the past month or so. She has no interest in the outside world or even playing with her 3 sisters. I am in the learning stages about all of it. I wish I could be more help to you

Suzanne - posted on 06/25/2010

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My 9 yr old son was officially diagnosed with Aspergers last year but ADHD several years ago. We found getting him involved in scouts helped a lot. He also takes swim lessons and he got golf clubs for his birthday so we are signing him up for classes. Golf is great because it is small groups usually instead of large teams. He was in T-ball but that was pushing it as far as social behaviors. Also try to make a Daily/weekly chart that shows him when he can and can't be on the computer or play computer type games. Or give him a reward system for completing his daily tasks like extra computer time. Make it worth something. Good Luck.

Cindy - posted on 06/25/2010

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Our son was diagnosed with Autism when he was 20. He is now 28 years old. We found out that if you take him with you where ever you go to teach him how to be social. Now he is a social butterfly. He will pinch you if you don't acknowledge him now. We tell family and friends to tell Nick "Hi" and you won't get pinched!. LOL

Amy - posted on 06/24/2010

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shelly, my son is 10 and he has autism/asp. just diagnosed 2yrs ago and adhd several years earlier. He also holes up in his room by himself. Getting him to leave the house can be a struggle. Even going to my nieces softball games sometimes I cant' get him out of the car. it's hard but I just keep pushing him to leave house. he is in Scouts and sometimes I have to force him to go. Then we get in big arguements because he says u can't force me to do anything. He wouldn't sign up for sports this summer but I am singing him up for football camp anyway. he also went to scout camp. I just do what I can to get him out of the house. Sometimes it gets so frustrating because he usually has fun when he does stuff. I often feel like those people who push their kids to do things because they are trying to relive their lives through them. But I am pushing for diff. reasons. last year he didn't want to go to the music program at school so he never brought me home the note. I didn't find out till the day after. i was so mad. And what made it worse was I didn't even know he played an instrument. His whole grade played recorders. i asked him every day about school and what he did. and he never said one word about it. It is really hard to get him to talk sometimes. Anyway, I guess what i am saying is do what you can to get him out. Is there something like a Boys and Girls club that maybe you can send him to part of the day. Sign him up for things and take him. I've noticed a little change in my son just from scouts. He still has a long way to go, but it must be working. And maybe therapy. i started then stopped, but I think I will start sending him back.

Jane - posted on 06/24/2010

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My Sean's best friend is also an Aspie. They are really neat together, and they've always been there for each other. But both remain a little awkward, naive, and gullible.

Julie - posted on 06/24/2010

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Hi Sheila,my son is 15 also Aspergers,he is a great kid also socially awkward a fantastic musician,it used to upset me so much to see him on his own,Ive come to the conclusion that you have to accept him the way he is you cant or wont change him,follow his lead he wont follow yours at times he will cooperate other times he wont,over time I have discovered he has a wea;th of common sense and this has carried him through,he will never be the life and soul of the party,I found martial arts and music to be a godsend,I wish you all the best,Julie

Vicki - posted on 06/23/2010

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my 22 year old has Aspergers...what was helpful for him was to find an Aspy friend or two or someone with the same narrow interests...then they can play and discuss the movies or games together. And with years of treatment...he's very social...but as you may know..each child is different.

Jane - posted on 06/23/2010

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I have several Aspies, and they're all different. :) Videogames, however, are pervasive as perseverations. We have to remember that they may need them, but at our house we try to limit.

Generally, we have "game day" on Sunday, and then the rest of the week they have to play outside for an hour a day, minimum. If they choose to play indoors, it doesn't mean they have the option to play games or to watch TV. There's more to life and the sooner they understand that, the better.

It's all about structure for them. If they can count on what's coming next, they are happier and have less meltdowns. With seven kids, our structure is a bit loose, but it's structure.

I'll be praying for you. :)

Jennifer - posted on 06/23/2010

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My son was diagnosed with adhd,aspergers and obsive compulsive when he was 5.Sound like my son to a tee.My son hates outside wants video games etc,make him active.My son is in 4-h,boy scouts,church outings,library groups.anything you can put him in he will get a little better as time goes on.My son is at a 7 day 4-h camping trip now.He does have a few good friends.There is some hope but it comes with time.Don't let them isolate themselves,make them interact.That's my advice.

Shelly - posted on 06/22/2010

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Thank you all for your input!!! We saw his doctor today and go again on the 8th of July.. She also gave me some tips... With this being so new, but the issues have been present for some time, I still trying to figure it all out!! Thanks again everyone!! I just feels better knowing there are places where people understand what you are dealing with!!!!! ;-)

Andrea - posted on 06/22/2010

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I have sons' with Autism as well. One of them is a little socially awkward but we try to encourage his brother and his older sister to get him involved in what they are doing as well. Just a idea if there is a sibling around. Otherwise keep encouraging him to do things with you guys. Maybe that could help.

Alicia - posted on 06/21/2010

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My son doesn't seclude himself so I am not speaking from personal experience here so take that into consideration. But I do know with any kid on the spectrum the more you allow them to engage in rigid behaviour the more entrenched that behaviour becomes. You may want to put your foot down and force the issue at least for a few minutes a day to start. You can work up from there. Take it at a slow pace to make it easier on you both. Also there may be social groups for aspie kids in your area. The benefit is they are lead by people who understand autism and are therefore more qualified to help you incorporate socialization into his life. Just a thought.
Good luck,
Alicia

Brenda - posted on 06/21/2010

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Hi Shelly,
My son is 13 and is mild to moderate aspie/autism. He is the same way as your son. We try to cut down the time he is on the computer or alone. We require him to ride his bike around the neighborhood or go swimming in our pool. Also, I make him go with me to the store, restaurants, etc.
Get him involved in some sport or activity. My son cannot play on the computer or stay in his room playing unless he has done certain things. I require him to have chores to keep him busy and teach him responsibility.
Is reclusive behavior will get worse and you will have to get tough to keep him active socially.
Good Luck :)

Anne - posted on 06/21/2010

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Hiya I'm not sure where you live but I'm in England and am pretty new to this too. We are at the beginning of the assessment period for our 5 year old son. The school he is at have been brilliant, they were the ones who pointed out to us that there may be some behaviours that may be worth investigating and after an initial assessment by the Inclusion Manager it was suggested that he may have Aspergers. I've read up a lot on the subject and have come to my own conclusion that it looks like he may just have the syndrome. There is a team in Birmingham called CAT (Communication and Autism Team) who hold fortnightly support groups where you get to meet parents of other ASD children. I've yet to attend one but will endeavour to try and attend the next one.

I think if you were to look for support groups in your area via a search engine, there will be plenty of parents there who would be quite happy to talk to you and build up a relationship with you so that you can do the best for your child.



Also, if you are in England, ask the school to get him statemented, once this is done you child will have more support with his education. My son is on School Action Plus which helps him as he is classed as gifted, his ingelligence levels are quite high for his age.

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