Does your autistic child have friends?

Fran - posted on 09/21/2011 ( 37 moms have responded )

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My son is 10 years old and hasn't made any friends. His only friends are myself, my husband, and his big sister. When I see him on the playground at school, he just does his own thing. I know he is not aware, but I AM. He is in a self contained autistic class, however, some of the other boys in his class follow each other around. On the spectrum, I believe most of the children in the class are mild to moderate, most speak very clearly as well. My son does not. I don't believe he realizes what goes around him, but you never know what he is thinking. I think THAT is what bothers me the most, that he wishes he could be socializing and can't. Anyone else feeling this way???

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Lisa - posted on 07/23/2015

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My 6 yr old is like your 13yr old - high functioning ASD, very social , no friends other than my husband and I and his sitter . He wants desperately to have friends but his play is so different most kids on playgrounds etc walk away from him or worse yet start making fun of him and agitating him. We have also considered alternate school where he could be with kids like himself but he's so intelligent we don't know if it would be a backslide for him. I've gotten to this point of looking for a true friend for him. My heart breaks when the other kids in the neighborhood are playing together and exclude him . The phone never rings for play dates and he's always wanting a friend ugh hurts to see him hurt

Karen - posted on 12/11/2012

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I hope no one minds my (somewhat) controversial response. My 10 year old autistic child fits this description, however he is much more verbal now than he was a few years ago. He has no firends except his brothers. He really isn't aware so much that he is different, so it doesn't bother him. He prefers to play by himself. Now my 13 year old has asperger's. He is socially awkward and has few friends, and knows he is different and it really bothers him. This, to me, is far worse then my youngest child's situation. I think in the case of our 10 year olds, it bothers us more then it bothers them.

Shawn - posted on 12/04/2012

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My son is a high functioning 9 year old with autism. When I ask him what he did at recess he will just reply that I played on the equipment. I feel bad for him because I know that the other kids probably think he is different. You cannot tell that my son is different on the outside or when you talk to him, but he tends to play inside his head a lot and that tends to show on the outside at times. My husband and I tell him to ask kids to play and to be open to the games that they want to play instead of always playing what my son wants to play(right now its Star Wars). My son has never had anyone over to the house and I can tell that it bothers him because his sister has friends over all of the time. So Fran I know this is an older post but I completley undertand what you are feeling. I wish there was a social gathering or playdate group sort of speak in the areas to help?

Charlene - posted on 09/26/2011

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I don't know if there is a support group close to you but that's where my son (11 yrs. w/ Asperger's) was able to find a friend. He did NOT want to talk about anything to do w/ autism or Asperger's, etc. until this year. But when he did start to ask questions, he realized he really wanted a friend, and preferably one that also had AS. I guess so they could be more on the same wavelength. So I sent an email to the list-serve about it and got a reply from a mom w/ a son that also has AS. My son & hers have now been talking on the phone and over to each others' houses, and the like. It's really been so great to see them play together (quite interesting too) but maybe just being able to "get" each other has helped them.

Liz - posted on 08/06/2015

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I deliver speech therapy to students with receptive and expressive communication disorders, including autism. Difficulty with social interactions/communication exchanges does not come naturally to this particular group. Their brain is not used for this. Fortunately, there are things you can do to aid your child in doing so effectively. Dont take what I say as an alternative to speech therapy, although I am assuming he is receiving services:

Make sure you are collaborating with the teacher and/or therapists that work with your child. They may give you things you can do at home to aid your child with this area.

Equip your child with communication tools, such as using communication words that describe his feelings. I feel frustrated. I feel confused. etc. This prepares him a bit for exchanges that will occur, both with you and others. Not feeling like you can express yourself will add to possible anxiety he may feel.

Being in a classroom with all autistic children is helpful, but dont forget outside of that environment, other children may not be autistic, so use others outside of that environment to model "average" social behavior. This can be done under structured settings where he is forced to engage in verbal exchanges. Introducing him to others with similar likes is also a good idea. Things such as board games and other games where he is forced to communicate is so important, but again, make sure you prepare him with communication skills he can use, otherwise, it will only make him frustrated and "disconnect" further. Activities requiring teamwork is also helpful.Rewarding him when he is successful or making an effort will serve as incentives to step outside his comfort zone. Reward him, and do not punish him through this process.

Talking with him, and describing situations he may encounter is also helpful. You two can discuss what he may do to make the situation smooth and adds to his tools.
I have students who only focus on one thing during a conversation, which can turn other children away. Topic maintenance, or how to ask other kids questions, and respond appropriately (instead of interrupting to change back to a preferred topics).

Speech therapists use tools you can also buy online. The site superduperpublications provides a WIDE range of games that target communication disorders, including autism. A good tool you can use is a deck of cards with different people modeling facial expressions. You can ask "how does this person feel?" We think this comes naturally, but with autistic children it is not so easy. "what could have happened to make this person feel scared/surprised/confused etc. Stick to simple fun games when you explore this site. "What are they saying?" is one of my favorite tools. It is fun, and the child can identify what a character is saying by taking into consideration an audience, situation, and/or another person's facial expression. You may want to include family members when using these tools. Trust me, it is a lot of fun.

These are suggestions of activities that have worked for me and my students. The process is not quick, and you will need patience. Remember, social interactions do not come easy for these kids, so be his partner and go through it together. Just the fact that you are seeking guidance demonstrates you are looking out for his best interest.
Oh, and I am sure you know structure is something that is sought out by your son, so to limit anxiety, stick to a schedule that works for you both.

Hope this helped! God Bless

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Nicole - posted on 03/20/2018

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My nine year old daughter is autistic and she is highly verbal and highly intelligent while also having learning disabilities. She does want not have any friends and no one really comes over to play. She desperately wants to have a friend who will play with her and accept her. She loves interacting with other children. Her play is that of a younger child and she has a hard time letting go of control during playtime. She is also incredibly kind and caring!

Deeglov6 - posted on 11/28/2015

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My daughter is 12 with high functioning Autism. She wants to make friends is there a support group or places parents go for kids with special need can play and interact with one anther. I feel sad that she just has me.

Elona - posted on 07/30/2015

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How old is your son? Just curious? What is the school doing about this problem? They should have a social goal and it seems like they haven't made one in this area, or have they? Have you talked to your son about being isolated from the other kids? If he is not very verbal, maybe draw the situation on paper and have him draw his reaction to your picture. Sometimes that works? Or perhaps you could role play the situation at school with the other family members. Or maybe you can use little dolls to illustrate the problem. I know with my grandson who has high functioning Autism. I did these things with him. At that time he was very non-verbal and unaware of other people socially. He isolated himself. For a solid year, I went to the school playground afterschool and monitored his socialization. I narrated what was going on for him. I gave him suggestions on what to do to fit in. It helped him a lot. Maybe you can get a shadow for him at school to help him learn to socialize? In his IEP if it shows he has a need for one, and it would, the school is required to give your son one. Why don't you try that route. My grandson had a shadow in a regular camp when he was 5 and it worked out well! Good luck, and do write back if you have any questions. My adult son has Asperger's and my grandson, PDD-NOS high functioning. This is my second generation of Autism I'm raising.

Good luck!

Elona - posted on 07/30/2015

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I totally agree, please have him go to a special school or a special program. It sounds like your son needs a particular type of program that is tailored to his needs. Why isn't he in one now? Just curious? The special programs have reward systems that work, but he needs to be evaluated in order to have a program tailored to him. One type program is ABA. It is a program that rewards your child for appropriate behavior, in this case, in the classroom. It takes a while to change behavior. It doesn't happen over night. Somehow, the school has rewarded your son, inadvertently, for his bad behavior. ABA is a scientific approach and done with the assistance of a psychologist. Please Google ABA. and you will learn more about it.

Good luck!

Shelly - posted on 07/25/2015

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My 18yro son is on spectrum, he had friends when very young at preschool but as he got older he didnt and doesnt have friends, its much harder for older aspberger kids as they miss those social cues that younger children dont care so much about. At some times he may have one friend who he relates to as other kids call them strange. he connects well with adults or very young children like his lil nephew. He can be social but has hard time making long term relationships. He also either likes someone or hates them and he makes that determination immediatly as we know they tend to live in a black and white world no grey area with him and that goes for all aspects of his life.

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my son is pretty much the definition of Autistic. He gets enjoyment from shooting rabbits in the brain. And what is worse, he cant even play cod.

Tracy - posted on 07/21/2014

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my son is 10 he has asd and has no one to play with at his school has he does not like they choice of games so often on his own.he also lashes out when he gets frustrated and angry .his teachers
don't sp.eak to him in the right manner which makes things worse and he will then swear and speak rudely to his teachers.i feel helpless and don't know what to say to him when teACHERS TELLS ME THIS I SOMTIMES WANDER IF HE WOULD BE BETTER IN A SPECIAL SCHOOL WERE THERE WOULD UNDERSTAND HIM BETTER.

Tracy - posted on 12/17/2012

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I have 2 sons on the spectrum. my eldest son, for unrelated reasons went to a different school from his younger brothers. he would play with the other kids if they approached him but would never interact otherwise. at this time he s now 15, in high school and has a budding relationship with his first girlfriend. at one point I honestly thought he would never be able to live independently, but he continues to surprise me everyday. I must say that when he hit puberty it made a lot of changes in him other than what I thought he should have been going through. he did have a lot off change in his personality as well, most of them positive. there is hope in the future.

Goldie - posted on 12/07/2012

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defintely...... my son is 3 and bringing him to the playground just hurts... He always wants to join in when other children are playing together, but due to his autism and being non verbal they tend to ignore him or push him around and targeting him as the "bad guy".... his only friends are me, my husband and his baby sister too.. and the worse thing is they actually know whats going on around them... just that they cant express themselves and they cant control their actions.. i guess finding a group of parents with children who are diagnosed with autism to have a picnic together or playdate would help alot because the children are more at ease and you can discuss on progress and guidence as well be be each other's support

User - posted on 10/28/2012

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I really wished we all lived near each other. We can have one huge playgroup.

Judi - posted on 11/16/2011

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use whatever works, stuffed toys, thomas trains, my sons iPad talks to him when he's sitting at the table not doing is fine motor work. Puppets are good because their mouths open and close.

Pamela - posted on 11/16/2011

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I don't know if puppets would work as my son doesn't particularly care for them but, he does like stuffed animals! so that might work just fine if I give them voices!! :)

Judi - posted on 11/16/2011

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We did OT group sessions to help "teach" our son about playing with others and looking for queues. Playing is REALLY hard there are so many social rules and unsaid things that just come naturally to others that have to be taught in our kids. Try role playing at home as well with puppets as the peers (we did that too.

Judi - posted on 11/16/2011

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We did OT group sessions to help "teach" our son about playing with others and looking for queues. Playing is REALLY hard there are so many social rules and unsaid things that just come naturally to others that have to be taught in our kids. Try role playing at home as well with puppets as the peers (we did that too.

Pamela - posted on 11/14/2011

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Michelle, yes it breaks my heart as well. Then again, I don't have any friends either LOL. I am always with him and it's hard to make friends with moms of neurotypical or typically developing children b/c eventually they ask "why can't your kiddo just get along" and they just don't call again for tea/coffee.

Michelle - posted on 11/13/2011

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My son is high functioning and he does not have any friends at school. He is in a regular class room and I believe that the other kids think of him as different. It breaks my heart. He knows that he is rejected when he asks to play with other children. I want to find other moms of children with Aspergers in my area so he can find some common ground with someone. I no how you feel.

Pamela - posted on 11/09/2011

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My son is almost 7 with Aspergers, wants friends desperately. He makes them at school but then can't keep them. On playdates he ends up having a meltdown for some reason or another and scares them away. He is still emotionally behind his peers so much. he has trouble sharing, taking turns and that doesn't bode well on playdates.

Erica - posted on 10/11/2011

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My son is pretty outgoing however he has very few friends. We got him involved in Cub Scouts and he loves it. He has a few close friends in there and that made it easy for us to have a nice birthday party for him this year. It was small and he had about 5 kids show up but it was very nice and he had a lot of fun.

A lot of kids keep their distance because my son can get stuck on topics of his choosing and then stay on that topic for hours when his friends want to talk about something else. This is what tends to have them leaving my son alone and that makes me feel sad.

One of my son's friends has Aspergers and they don't like all of the same things but they get along and we get them together about once a month and they have a great time.

I would try to get a playdate with 1 friend and then work it up to 2 friends but have separate playdates so he can have their undivided attention to play having more than 1 child in the playdate may cause the 2 non ASD children to play without him.

Hope this helps!

Cherrone - posted on 09/28/2011

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My son is high functioning (autism) and extremely social which makes me even more sensitive to the fact that he doesn't have as many friends as he would like. What's worse is, he constantly looks for someone to be his best friends. I try to reassure him but as most parents know with these challenges, that is not quick enough.

Mary - posted on 09/26/2011

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I think our kids are very lucky to have such caring and loving moms who only want the best and want our kids to be happy!
They will have to succeed with us behind them. :)
Mary
www.SkinnyFiber411.com

Sarah - posted on 09/26/2011

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My heart goes out to you...I totally hear and understand. My 9 year old is very much similar. I think to a degree, that many are aware of what is going on around them, it's more whether or not they care or are interested! I like to take comfort in knowing my son is content. If being on his own, and in his own train of thought is where he is happiest, then why try to fix what isn't broken.
My only goal for him, is that when he needs to or even wants to interact with others, he can do so successfully without help or prompting!
My thoughts are with you!

Michelle - posted on 09/25/2011

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My son is almost 9 w Aspergers- I have had a difficult time with this because I always struggled to make friends and felt very left out and lonely, so I didn't want him to feel the same way. What I had to realize is that he doesn't - he has this intense imaginary world that he can control and that is where he would rather spend his downtime not being forced to try to figure out what this other kid is thinking, feeling, wanting, ect. His PT actually was the one that pointed out to me that it is probably kind of draining to him to be in class all day and try to conform to how others think and act, so it could be that only time he really gets to relax and be himself is when he's running around the playground talking to people who aren't really there.
And wouldn't you believe once I stopped worrying so much he found a kid he likes to play with that likes him back and the play "army" almost everyday at recess now.
Every kid finds his place in his own time, I'm sure yours will too- he just needs to find the right kid with the right interests and tolerance

Mary - posted on 09/25/2011

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I guess the best we can do is to make sure they are happy... the way they want to be happy and feel comfortable. I was a social butterfly.. and still am. I have to remember this is not about me.. but about my son. :)
Mary - I lost 120 lbs - www.SkinnyFiber411.com

Rita - posted on 09/25/2011

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My ASD son never had friends, and we lived in a community that children his age were abundant, and with in walking distance. He (for diferent reasons) started in a Residential school as a teen, and is one of the most popular kids in his school. He does well with other speial needs kids. He doesnt do well in the main stream.

Annette - posted on 09/24/2011

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I agree with Angie. But of course the hard part is figuring out whether or not he truly cares... but I do think its important to make sure that we aren't putting more stress on them to do something that isn't rewarding for them. However, having said that, it IS important that those skills are developed. My son may never have a best friend (or care to), but its important that he knows how to approach people appropriately and how to address them when he wants to be alone, etc. Eventually these are skills he is going to need with coworkers, etc. even if he chooses to not have 'friends'.

Angie - posted on 09/23/2011

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My son is the same, he's 10 and has no friends. At his previous school he had one really good friend and 3 years later he still talks about him and how much he misses him.
Here is my opinion, I may be in the minority here, but this is just my feeling. If your child is happy and it doesn't bother him to sit on the playground alone, then maybe that's o.k. for now. However if it bothers him to not have friends then maybe work on way to find someone to play with. As far as my son, I don't think it bothers him to be alone on the playground talking to himself. He plays with his older brother and younger sister. When his brother has friends over he plays with them.

Angie

Mary - posted on 09/23/2011

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My 9 year old has Aspergers and is very high functioning, but socially inept. He is getting better. He likes going to parties if there is something fun to do... like ice skating or a bounce house. His best friend seems to be his younger brother who is 7 and also has some sort of issues. The two play PS3 together and actually have conversations about video games...etc.

While it is not the ideal... I see it as a step in the right direction.

Noah knows he has Autism..... we never told him. He told US last year that he was Autistic. Irregardless of lack of verbal skills.. these kids are brilliant. They know what is going on but I am not sure they all wish to be social... because of the stimiuli.

Have you heard of Carley Flieshman?
(spelling is bad there)
She is non verbal teen that one day started typing on the computer to communicate. She has provided huge insights on feelings and what is going on inside.

Temple Grandin is another who has provided many valuable personal insights.

Mary - www.SkinnyFiber411.com - Get Paid 2 Lose Weight

Melanie - posted on 09/22/2011

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I can guarantee that even when he doesn't seem to know he does get what is going on around him. The way to make friends is to make it easy find someone with the same interests, you may have to do a lot of the work for him especially at first, and help him learn to interact with them the way he does with you. However, you and his sister and father are the best friends he could have. You might also look into the big brother program if their is one near you they will sometimes help with autistic children if you can explain the need in a way they understand.

Tania - posted on 09/21/2011

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hi fran , well i was in the same position as you
my son was the only one who didnt get invited to birthdays etc . i used to invite his whole class to every birthday party and make it as fun as i could ....they then noticed he had the same things they did etc it did help a little . i know its so hard watching best of luck

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