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Tantrumtamer
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26 Jun 2013, 5:08 pm

I am new here so here is some background about my 14 year old daughter. She has been diagnosed with ADhD up until very recently when a new psychiatrist (after observing a conversation between her and I) suggested that he really thinks she has Aspergers. After reading a ton of books and websites I absolutely agree and cannot believe it did not occur to someone earlier than now. We started a weekly group session with a speech therapist that coaches girls on social situations and skills, and that seems to be something that will benefit her tremendously. I have altered how I speak with her and have done a lot of the things suggested in books (short instructions, written steps, written dailly schedule, posted rules etc.) and it really has transformed how our family communicates with her. It has also reduced her meltdowns tremendously. Now to the heart of my question....

I think she is confused about her sexuality due to her concrete thinking. She talks about boys and says boys are cute and has a very close friend she calls her boyfriend (the son of my friend of 30 years). She posts pictures of cute boys on her facebook wall and talks to me about boys she thinks are cute at school. My problem is that she has also been caught writing an inappropriate love note to a female friend. This friend self identifies as bisexual openly at school. My daughter met her because she enrolled at this new school in April on the same day my daughter enrolled. neither of them knew anyone at the new school so they decided to hang out with eachother. I have required her to end the friendship since that happened, not because of the note, but because this girl was sneaking out of her house and lying to her mom about being at our house all weekend but would be somewhere else. She was also self-injuring. My daughter seemed to feel responsible for this girl and never stood up to her. She was also verbally abusive and would do things like tell my daughter she was fat or that her room was too girly. Needless to say I am glad this confusing friendship is over.

Here's my thinking. My daughter is a VERY concrete thinker and that is where I am a little confused. I am wondering if she is thinking that because she finds a girl attractive or has a feeling of love for her that she must be bisexual? I mean I can look at another woman and think she is pretty but that just means I think she is pretty--nothing more. I'm wondering if maybe she is confusing her sexuality with noticing someone is attractive? Or maybe she is having boundary issues and does not understand how to nurture a same sex friendship without thinking she is bisexual?

I'm just not sure how to handle this and I am wondering if any of you have ever had this sort of situation in your family?

One more thing I would like to add. I would have been equally upset if the note had been between her and a boy because I do not condone that kind of communication between my daughter and ANYONE. That is how I have approached this issue so far and that may be the only thing I need to do at this point.

If anyone has any respectful and helpful thoughts I would really appreciate hearing from you.

M.



DW_a_mom
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26 Jun 2013, 6:12 pm

While I can't say for sure because I don't your daughter, and every person is unique, I consider it most likely that your daughter is coming at all this more like an 11 year old girl than a 14 year old one, meaning that she may not have understood it could be interpreted sexually. While hormones in ASD kids develop on track, their ability to understand relationships is usually an area of developmental lag.

But ... you might also want to be aware that bi-sexuality seems to be more common among the ASD population. Totally unscientific, just an impression, so it wouldn't surprise me if she found herself not fully on one side of the sexuality spectrum.

Still, if your daughter is anything like my son at that age, I wouldn't be willing to set anything like that in stone. I would start with simple questions: what did she intend to express in the note, and what did she assume the other girl would think of it? Remember, again, that is likely to be far behind her chronological age with this.

After that, I'd let her know that the whole area of dating and sexuality is going to be extra tricky for her because of her ASD, and she is likely to be happiest if she makes a choice to hold off on it all for a while. ASD teen girls seem to be targets for being taken advantage of, unfortunately, so be extra careful. I would suggest to her to go ahead and enjoy crushes, but consider dating or any version there-of to be something for "later." Not as a rule you are handing down to her, but as a decision she hopefully will see the logic of and agree to. I have a 16 year old son and for those and other reasons he simply does not date at all yet.


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ASDsmom
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26 Jun 2013, 6:40 pm

In general, I think it's pretty common for teens to question their sexuality. I don't think it's anything you need to figure out or question her about. Let her be. I'd focus more on the content of that note (I'm not sure what was said) if you feel it was inappropriate. Your guesses are valid but maybe her feelings are too.

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After that, I'd let her know that the whole area of dating and sexuality is going to be extra tricky for her because of her ASD, and she is likely to be happiest if she makes a choice to hold off on it all for a while. ASD teen girls seem to be targets for being taken advantage of, unfortunately, so be extra careful.


I agree with this quote if she's aware about her ASD [suspicions]. Have you told her about that already?



dajand8
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26 Jun 2013, 7:47 pm

I would not define your daughter's sexuality. It seems a bit arrogant for YOU to try to define it, and explain her feelings for a female being due to the misunderstandings of emotion of an Aspie. Feelings are feelings. The most important thing to remember is that if you try to quench the flames of adolescent love, it will backfire. Remember the Romeo and Juliet syndrome. You can't let her know you are against the relationship, even if you really are. She has to think she is in control and can do as she pleases with her body. I know it is scary to see your daughter dabbleing in things possibly damaging, but trying to control it head on will most likely start the whole scenario spiraling out of control. Nothing brings two rebels closer than the presence of authority.



cathylynn
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26 Jun 2013, 9:04 pm

i'm an aspie and I double-dated at 14, dated at 16, went steady at 17, lost my virginity at 26. I always knew I was hetero, had crushes on boys as early as early grade school. i'm now married to a wonderful man.

I agree with the folks that say your daughter will have to come to terms with her sexual orientation on her own. it would be a hard area to explore in conversation without letting a bit of personal bias show, which could prevent her from coming to you later for help. if she needs to talk with you about it, she'll most likely bring it up. then you can be supportive of whatever she feels.

you could have the general conversation about how men and women's bodies work and remind her not to let anyone pressure her to do what she is not ready for, if you haven't done that already.



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26 Jun 2013, 9:24 pm

There are a couple things going on here, and I've got a few questions to try to parse them all out:

When you say your daughter wrote an inappropriate note, how was it inappropriate? Was it sexually explicit or obscene? Was it expressing too much feeling for the level of the relationship? (meaning, for instance, she's writing about getting married and having children with a girl she barely knows) Was it overly intimate in non-sexual ways? (e.g. discussing non-sexual physical contact like kisse or hug, or obsessive towards the other girl) Regardless of how you answer these questions, I think a conversation about exactly why the letter was inappropriate - in terms of social communication and not sexual preference or sexuality - is important.

It sounds like, beyond the letter, you are also concerned that your daughter is not really bisexual but that her AS is causing her to act that way. I would say this: typically, if there is confusion about the difference between a sexual relationship and a close friendship or admiration or some kind of role-playing, then usually it sorts itself out when physical contact is introduced (this is often how gay people figure out they just plain aren't straight, right?) As long as she isn't being coerced into a physical relationship, it's likely that she will figure this out herself. In fact, I might suggest that the stuff about boys may be her attempt to follow the social conventions she's aware of, and might not be her actual preference. Most kids (even gay ones in middle school) post pictures of the opposite gender on FB and on their lockers; it's expected - you have to have a really, really out and proud kid (who likely has support at home) to stand against the social conventions of school. Obviously I don't know your daughter, but it's something to think about.

I guess I'd say this: picking friends and partners can be difficult for Aspie kids. Parents often post here about their children choosing friends who are mean or who treat them badly just because they are willing to hang out. Sounds like THIS is the real problem your daughter is having.

In our house, we talk a lot about how friends show respect, and, if social cues aren't your thing, you can look for evidence of that respect. Using someone to cover up a lie is evidence of disrespect. Real friends don't get their friends in trouble. Real friends don't call you names or publicly point out things about you that might embarrass you - a real friend would talk to you privately if you did something you might not be aware of. A real friend (girlfriend, boyfriend or just a friend) loves you for who you are and tries to help you. I also try to reassure my son that real friends (and partners) are out there, and they are worth waiting for. I also point out the difference between the behavior of the kids I know who are his friends who are trustworthy and that of those who aren't.

I like this worksheet that helps kids show whether they understand the difference between friends and bullies. You might have to modify the ideas to work for a teenager, but you get the idea: http://autism.about.com/od/theautismcom ... ullies.htm

Another suggestion that's really more geared towards boys, but may be helpful in offering explicit boundaries is the book A Five Is Against The Law.

I just introduced DS to the blog Scarleteen. http://www.scarleteen.com/ It's extremely explicit, but the through-line of the whole blog is about respect, how to maintain and set boundaries, and how to respect the boundaries of other people within the realm of the wide world of sex, sexuality, gender and body issues. I think it's really helpful, although it may not be for everyone.



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26 Jun 2013, 9:34 pm

I think the most important thing is to keep an open mind, and make communicating with you about every aspect of life a safe harbor. A place she knows she can come for comfort or advice without being condemned or told that she couldn't possibly be feeling what she's feeling--or worse that she is wrong or bad for her feelings. As long as the lines of communication are open, you have the privilege of being a part of your child's life whether the child is 10 or 40.

I have a friend (whose permission I have for sharing this) whose parents are vehemently anti-LGBT, and who frequently tell her that they know her better than she knows herself. They believe that she is a heterosexual man who has no interest in dating. In reality, she is in an incredibly stressful position of being ASD and having to hide who she really is for the legitimate fear of being put out on the streets when she isn't yet capable of supporting herself fully (neither are most NT's at 19), while she's coming to terms with her gender and sexual orientation. Yet, her parents think they know her better than she knows herself.



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26 Jun 2013, 9:41 pm

MiahClone wrote:
I have a friend (whose permission I have for sharing this) whose parents are vehemently anti-LGBT, and who frequently tell her that they know her better than she knows herself. They believe that she is a heterosexual man who has no interest in dating. In reality, she is in an incredibly stressful position of being ASD and having to hide who she really is for the legitimate fear of being put out on the streets when she isn't yet capable of supporting herself fully (neither are most NT's at 19), while she's coming to terms with her gender and sexual orientation. Yet, her parents think they know her better than she knows herself.


Wow - please tell your friend from me that she has my admiration: I can't imagine what that must be like. I hope she gets the support she needs. (I didn't have any gender identity issues and am straight, but I did have to run away from home when I was 21 or so. I completely understand how frightening that is all by itself.)



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26 Jun 2013, 11:31 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
But ... you might also want to be aware that bi-sexuality seems to be more common among the ASD population. Totally unscientific, just an impression, so it wouldn't surprise me if she found herself not fully on one side of the sexuality spectrum.
Yes, to this. Just give her time to figure it out on her own. Keep in mind, she may be obsessed with guys because that's how she knows girls are supposed to act and she may be trying to do what other girls are doing. It goes without saying that you made the right choice to end the friendship. I just don't think you should worry about sexual orientation. Many kids her age are confused about their sexuality. You just learn what you want in a romantic relationship by feeling out what your emotions are telling you. It takes a certain maturity to be able to do that and you can only learn by experience. Eventually she'll look back and realize how unfortunate this relationship and use that mistake to find a guy/girl who respects her much more.


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27 Jun 2013, 8:59 am

I don't think simply assuming or questioning that she is bi is going to do any good here.

She may simply have had a good or close emotional connection with this girl, and went too far in expressing it, in typical aspie fashion. Such connections, especially with other girls during high school - can be very rare for some of us on the spectrum. Doubly so if they are close. It's something she will treasure and probably resent you for if you attempt to interfere - even if you believe it to be for her own good.

As for her orientation - you'd simply assuming Bi, without any real forethought. Her telling you about boys she likes may simply be her mimicking other behaviour that she sees at school from every other girl - she may be using it as a coping mechanism to help fit in, and has applied this social rule to all females, and therefore is doing it around you, even without meaning it. It's a possibility, especially if she is behind in her emotional level of development, as we often are.

Other possibilities: She may be straight and mistaking an emotional connection for something else, she may be bi, she may be gay, she may be demisexual, or she may be pansexual - or many other things. Either way - you are not going to know for sure until years and years later. I see no point assuming, trying to guess, or pigeon holing her now. The last thing that will be helpful is if you decide or assume something, and treat her differently subconsciously on that basis.


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29 Jun 2013, 11:10 am

Quote:
I am wondering if she is thinking that because she finds a girl attractive or has a feeling of love for her that she must be bisexual? I mean I can look at another woman and think she is pretty but that just means I think she is pretty--nothing more. I'm wondering if maybe she is confusing her sexuality with noticing someone is attractive?


It's possible. But it's also possible she is bisexual. There is research suggesting that non-heterosexual orientations are more common among autistic women.

The simple rule I learnt is 'if you feel a reaction in your crotch area while looking at/thinking about someone, you're sexually attracted to them'. That's pretty concrete. But it took me ages to figure this out because no one actually told me this - they just danced around describing the feelings instead of being clear about it. It wasn't until I was 17 or so that someone finally explained to me what a sexual feeling is.

In my case, I'm actually asexual. But I thought I was having sexual feelings for basically the exact same reason you describe.



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29 Jun 2013, 1:45 pm

Why do you worry if your daughter is bisexual? It's exactly as normal as being heterosexual.



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29 Jun 2013, 8:32 pm

I think I fall in the camp of letting her figure her sexuality on her own. I really don't think any kid really wants parental meddling in that. As with others, my only caveat would be concerning safety and coercion---being careful not to see coercion where it isn't just because you don't like the particular boy or girl, or are unhappy about the gender of the person. Other from that I would stay out of it unless she asks you something.



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30 Jun 2013, 6:24 am

At age only 14, you can have mentoring influence about her relationships in general. This girl is toxic and controlling and your daughter feels responsible for her. Not good. I don't know how, but hopefully when it all dies down you can show your daughter how much peaceful she is without all that confusion. I try to teach my kids (too young to date) that boundaries are important in every relationship. No one should ever treat her poorly, no matter how much your daughter cares for, pities, is attracted to, appreciates, or feels responsible for the other person. I agree with Momsparky to focus on teaching about respect, and I agree with DW that holding off on relationships is good for a time.

I do think ASD kids can get manipulated into bad relationships I'll give you the experience of my friend, mom to an undiagnosed ASD daughter I'll call N. In high school, a lesbian targeted N into a relationship. It was a terrible 4 years of manipulation, deceit, explosive anger, drugs etc. within the relationship, and a terrible, explicit influence on N's younger siblings. Just a mess. My friend (the mom) was constantly put in the position of relationship mentor, when she didn't agree with the relationship in the first place. Finally the relationship ended and N is dating young men. Her life is peaceful, she is off drugs, and she has hopes of developing a career. The old girlfriend is in jail. My friend now has tremendous difficulties with her younger kids. So personally I think you did the right thing to step in to help your daughter.



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02 Jul 2013, 8:59 pm

What's wrong with being bisexual?