Socialization issues with my 10 yr old with Asperger's

Cindi - posted on 12/04/2009 ( 17 moms have responded )

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My 10 yr old son avoids social situations. He still doesn't understand the nuances of social conversation. I want to encourage him to make friends, but I don't want to be pushy. He 'passes' as quirky normal because he has a very high IQ. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Melodie - posted on 12/14/2009

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I cannot even tell you how encouraging your post was to me.  My 5 year old has been just recently diagnosed with Asperger's and anxiety NOS.  He has been being treated for  ADHD since he was 2.  We always knew something just wasn't right.  Just yesterday he had his preschool Christmas program.  He seemed fine until they walked in and he saw all of the parents sitting around.  I let him go up and he cried for a few minutes.  His teacher started to send him to the bench and I decided to go up with him so he could still be part of it.  He kind of joined in once I was up there but he completely didn't want to be there.  He added words like BEEP in place of othere words in the songs and turned and faced me.  he just refused to be a part of it.  I just didn't want to tell him he could just give up.



We are at the very beginning of our process and I have no idea what to do when he does his certain thing that he does.  I have my ways that I have dealt with him for the last 5 years but is it the right way?  Am I causing damage?  Will it traumatize him?  How do I know what is right?  It took so long to get it to see a specialist.  But reading your post did give me some hope.  So, thank you.



 



Quoting LiEnisa:

You NEED to go to www.aspie.org and read Liane's website and information. My stepson is 14 with Aspeberger's and ADHD. We have learned more about him this year than in the last 14 of his life!
Your son will probably never understand social nuances. That is part of being an Aspie! They do not understand facial cues and are very literal thinkers. This makes socialization TOUGH and sometimes even physically painful. People with Aspberger's also often lack what I call a "filter". For example, if you asked my stepson "Does this dress make me look fat?" he would tell you the truth...no social pretense or buffering for the sake of feelings! LOL Because to him it was a straightforward question that demanded a straight answer. He wouldn't get that maybe it was someone's way of fishing for a compliment. This makes socialization, especially in adolescense, even tougher! Also, people on the Austism spectrum do not like 3D images. This includes people's faces. That makes it hard for them to make "normal" eye contact which is expected in a social situation. Does your son enjoy video games, t.v., and computers? If so you may try an online community for him to chat in (supervised and age appropriate of course!)first. Less pressure, he can be in his home, and it is very much on his terms. My stepson really enjoys Xbox Live.
You stated that he is quite intelligent. This makes other people understanding and accepting your son even tougher because he appears so "normal". People assume that these children are purposely being rude or are just naughty. They don't get that Aspies are just wired different. I know a woman who has a son on the Autism spectrum. When he starts a new school year he gets up infront of his classes and he tells his classmates all about himself. He talks about Autism and how he acts sometimes. He tells the kids about his ticks, his habits, and his behaviors. He also tells them that he is a boy, with thoughts and feelings. He lets the kids ask him questions. This relieves everyone's anxieties and lets the kids know that he IS different but this is why and how to deal with it. The kids are so much more tolerant and understanding of him. Making sure your son understands Aspberger's will help him too. we discovered this summer that ours didn't even know he had it or what it was. He just thought the ADHD made him behave the way he does.
The BEST advice we have gotten about how to deal with him though is this: Being high functioning and intelligent, we need to push him out if his comfort zone. We NEED to make him do thinkgs he may not want to so that he can develop a way to deal with social situations and so that he can grow as a person. We were also told that when enbarking on something new that we should prep him. We take thirty minutes or so before we are about to do something and give him as much detail as we can about what he will see, hear, feel, smell, and taste if food is involved. Then we give him three rules for behavior. We also give him a time limit for how long the event or activity will last.
This summer we took the kids to a Native American Pow Wow. We told him about the history and the pageantry. We told him there would be drums and people dancing and maybe singing in weird ways. We let him know that he would be expected to sit with us and listen and watch respectfully. His rules that day were 1.No on-purpose bodily noises (even at 14 farts are the funniest thing ever...BOYS!) 2. He could not say "I'm bored" or "When are we leaving" and 3. No cussing. (he doesn't understand that those words are any different from regular words. To him they are just words. When he gets bored he will often use a curse word for attention.)
He started out not wanting to go but ended up having a great time and really enjoyed the pageantry. Every once in a while we slip and just try to go somehwere and the result is awful. He gets upset and moody and can get a nasty attitude. But we now realize that we messed up and that is he is just reacting to the stress he is under from not knowing what is going to happen or how to react to what may happen.
Sorry this got so long. I am just so excited about what has worked for us and I know the pain and frustration of wanting to help but not knowing how. PUSH YOUR SON. He can take it. But prepare him. Tell him it is time to learn something new or do something new. Chances are he will never have a group of friends but he will find one friend...someone who he understands that he is comfortable around. And when that happens rejoice and enjoy it!





 

LiEnisa - posted on 12/04/2009

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You NEED to go to www.aspie.org and read Liane's website and information. My stepson is 14 with Aspeberger's and ADHD. We have learned more about him this year than in the last 14 of his life!

Your son will probably never understand social nuances. That is part of being an Aspie! They do not understand facial cues and are very literal thinkers. This makes socialization TOUGH and sometimes even physically painful. People with Aspberger's also often lack what I call a "filter". For example, if you asked my stepson "Does this dress make me look fat?" he would tell you the truth...no social pretense or buffering for the sake of feelings! LOL Because to him it was a straightforward question that demanded a straight answer. He wouldn't get that maybe it was someone's way of fishing for a compliment. This makes socialization, especially in adolescense, even tougher! Also, people on the Austism spectrum do not like 3D images. This includes people's faces. That makes it hard for them to make "normal" eye contact which is expected in a social situation. Does your son enjoy video games, t.v., and computers? If so you may try an online community for him to chat in (supervised and age appropriate of course!)first. Less pressure, he can be in his home, and it is very much on his terms. My stepson really enjoys Xbox Live.

You stated that he is quite intelligent. This makes other people understanding and accepting your son even tougher because he appears so "normal". People assume that these children are purposely being rude or are just naughty. They don't get that Aspies are just wired different. I know a woman who has a son on the Autism spectrum. When he starts a new school year he gets up infront of his classes and he tells his classmates all about himself. He talks about Autism and how he acts sometimes. He tells the kids about his ticks, his habits, and his behaviors. He also tells them that he is a boy, with thoughts and feelings. He lets the kids ask him questions. This relieves everyone's anxieties and lets the kids know that he IS different but this is why and how to deal with it. The kids are so much more tolerant and understanding of him. Making sure your son understands Aspberger's will help him too. we discovered this summer that ours didn't even know he had it or what it was. He just thought the ADHD made him behave the way he does.

The BEST advice we have gotten about how to deal with him though is this: Being high functioning and intelligent, we need to push him out if his comfort zone. We NEED to make him do thinkgs he may not want to so that he can develop a way to deal with social situations and so that he can grow as a person. We were also told that when enbarking on something new that we should prep him. We take thirty minutes or so before we are about to do something and give him as much detail as we can about what he will see, hear, feel, smell, and taste if food is involved. Then we give him three rules for behavior. We also give him a time limit for how long the event or activity will last.

This summer we took the kids to a Native American Pow Wow. We told him about the history and the pageantry. We told him there would be drums and people dancing and maybe singing in weird ways. We let him know that he would be expected to sit with us and listen and watch respectfully. His rules that day were 1.No on-purpose bodily noises (even at 14 farts are the funniest thing ever...BOYS!) 2. He could not say "I'm bored" or "When are we leaving" and 3. No cussing. (he doesn't understand that those words are any different from regular words. To him they are just words. When he gets bored he will often use a curse word for attention.)

He started out not wanting to go but ended up having a great time and really enjoyed the pageantry. Every once in a while we slip and just try to go somehwere and the result is awful. He gets upset and moody and can get a nasty attitude. But we now realize that we messed up and that is he is just reacting to the stress he is under from not knowing what is going to happen or how to react to what may happen.

Sorry this got so long. I am just so excited about what has worked for us and I know the pain and frustration of wanting to help but not knowing how. PUSH YOUR SON. He can take it. But prepare him. Tell him it is time to learn something new or do something new. Chances are he will never have a group of friends but he will find one friend...someone who he understands that he is comfortable around. And when that happens rejoice and enjoy it!

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17 Comments

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Heather - posted on 12/14/2009

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I'm having the same issues with my son. He's 6 years old and doesn't know how to make friends. He growls and barks at other kids. If you get any tips let me know....I really want to help him.

Linda - posted on 12/12/2009

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My son sounds like several of the children spoken about here. He is 12 and also has high functiononing Asperger's. He was lucky early on to find a couple of boys who had similar interests (Star Wars, Legos, etc.) and they became friends. Since they've known him since all the boys were about 5 years old, they accept his quirky habits as just part of who he is. They will say things like "Personal space, Jared." when he's getting up in their space and little things like that to remind him when he forgets some of the social rules. We've been really lucky that since we live in a small town that so many of the children he's in school with have grown up with him and when he's being a little quirky will say "Oh, that's just Jared being Jared." Try to find a small group - maybe just a one or two kids - with similar interests that he can get to know. For many of us, we have have those one or two really good friends that are the ones we count on to be there for us. I think as long as he can find a couple of good friends that's the best place to start.

Kimberly - posted on 12/08/2009

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I found RDI, Relationship Development Intervention (rdiconnect.com) to really help with understanding social cues. It's designed to have the child go back through typical development and get the parts they missed. For instance, my son had a hard time referencing my face and reading non-verbal communication and RDI systematically developed the foundations he was missing so he could continually build upon them. With what I know now, without those foundations, I can't see how it would be possible to successfully teach social cues - they're too dynamic! They need to know how to process it for themselves. Best wishes!

Monika - posted on 12/08/2009

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My son is 9. I found people with the same interest (in his case, Legos and Diary of a wimpy kid). at school, we helped create a Wimpy Kid reading group at lunch and on Fridays, he hangs out with 1 person and just plays legos. It will be a slow process but well worth it.

Valerie - posted on 12/07/2009

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My son is a high functioning pdd-nos 13 year old. Earlier on we tried scouts, and soccer, but he prefers not being in a team dynamic. I am not sure if he felt he couldn't contribute, was embarrassed because he couldn't connect with the other kids or just truly likes doing activities on his own. We found that he likes Karate. It is still in a group, but independent with structure. W did our homework and found a great dojo that worked with kids of all ages and made sure the instructor was aware of my son's needs. We are doing not only doing this for the socialization, but it gives him a goal to reach the next level and so on. Also, we are not sure if he will ever be successful in college, but if he has a black belt, he can be a teacher to the little ones when he old enough. Just a thought, good luck!

Shelly - posted on 12/07/2009

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My 12 yr old son has a hard time in social situations also so i found something he really liked and that i could enjoy too and i made sure it would require him to be around people. He doesn't do well at first but when he gets into what's going on he loosens up and has fun. I take my son to Christian rock concerts everytime a band he likes listening to comes close to us we are there and it always ends up being a good time. As far as friends go my son had to find kids that looked past his problem and believe me it's hard but there are kids out there that will do that.

[deleted account]

I know its painful to see your child not making friends and being isolated. If it makes you feel better, they love it, it's us that worry about it. My daughter has no aspiration of having friends (even though 2 girls do play with her at school, they're kind of odd but she likes them ok) Having him volunteer somewhere there's animals helps too. It calms them and they have to interact to understand how to care for them,

[deleted account]

My daughter also is high functioning aspergers. She's in the 5th grade and reads at 8th grade level. I asked if the teacher could put her with students who needed help with their reading. This way she can be viewed as "smart" but eccentric and it also helps her with her socialization. They also had her read the morning announcements on the loud speaker (as of course she has no embarrassment)

Alice - posted on 12/05/2009

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Hi Cindi, your son sounds like my 13 year old grandson. My grandson struggled in public school and thought the kids who didn't abuse or ridicule him were his friends. He just doesn't pick up on social cues. He also passes for quirky normal, and, like your son he's very bright. He's now in a private school and finally was invited to his first sleepover to play video games and my daughter took them to a kids go cart racetrack the next day when she picked my grandson up from the sleepover. The smaller classes helps him a lot and the private school has a no tolerance policy for hitting, pushing, etc.. He hasn't been invited back for another sleepover, however, he doesn't seem to notice those things. My grandson also has vitaligo on his skin so the other kids tease a lot. Try to get him into situations where there are fewer kids and see if that helps. What a joy my grandson is. He has a little brother who adores him but there is almost 8 years difference in their ages. We are truly blessed with both of them. I wish these aspergers kids didn't have such a struggle. There is a psychologist in our area who also has aspergers so I believe these kids will eventually grow into their own. My best wishes to you and your son.

Julie - posted on 12/05/2009

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We tap into our son's interest areas. We try to find others who enjoy the same things. Scouts has worked well for us, but Dad goes along as a leader to be there just in case. Telling him what to expect and even rehearsing for outings has helped him prepare and go outside himself. Our medical group has a social skills group for kids his age. Maybe you can find something in your area. Good luck.

[deleted account]

LiEnisa - I really appreciate everything that you said in your post. My grandson sounds just like your stepson. I have read a lot about Asperger's, but I learned some new and important things from reading your post. Thank you so much.

Amanda - posted on 12/05/2009

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my son is very reluctant to try anything new, he resisted for ages going to breakfast club, but one morning he had to go and after much anxieities he loved it and goes every morning, but any club i have suggested he says a firm no ! i thought scouts would be good sociallay, but he wont even try. When he is out he always looks for the logic, Magic tricks he has to work them out how it was done, and any jokes he feels the need to explain, why they should be funny, he doesnt seem to take anything at face value. Any new situation he finds quite stressfull . so if you find the answers please pass them on !

[deleted account]

He sounds just like my 16 year old grandson. I have tried Boy Scouts and church with no success. He won't go anywhere there is a crowd or noise. He made friends with another "quirky" boy at school about 3 years ago. They still talk on the phone regularly, play games online together and get together here at our house. Otherwise most of the kids that he sees outside of school have been the children of my friends. This is his first full year at a special school for kids with Aspergers and other forms of autism. The school encourages socialization. He now has a group of friends that he regularly eats lunch with. Aand lately I have noticed kids calling to him and walking with him into school. I am hopeful. Honestly, other than enrolling him in this school, I am not sure that I have done anything to help him with the socialization issues. So I will be looking forward to the responses to your post.

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