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torquemada
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22 Jun 2013, 2:52 pm

Ok, here`s the thing....

My 9 year old son is going to be starting at a new school for his next school year. He has experienced the usual viciousnesses experienced by many of us from both nasty peers and idiot teachers. His mother treats his ASD as a behavioural issue rather than developmental, and we only get to see each other once a fortnight. We`ve only been discussing our Autism for 3 visits now, and we`re trying to develop strategies for survival, etc. at his new school.

We`ve come to the realisation that the advice I would instinctively give him is possibly (a) not necessarily NT compatible, and (b) viewable from some perspectives as wrong.

So, happy and not-so-happy WPers, I beg your advice, hints, tips, what have you, (He`s sitting with me while I type this, and says "Hi", btw) :) on survival in a new jungle.

**NB** 1. You have a fortnight before he comes back to read this, so you can take your time, and 2. Please remember that a 9 year old will be reading your responses. I`ve inadvertently taught him many things I shouldn`t have already, let`s please not add any more adult words to his vocabulary :oops:

He is a sensitive lad, but is not afraid to stand his ground and throw a punch in self defence, for which I am eternally grateful! If you wish to address your responses directly to him, he`s called Alex.

Thank you all very much, he`s now going to be asking me every 10 minutes whether someone`s answered yet...lol


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22 Jun 2013, 3:13 pm

Hi Alex! I'd try to get to know your new classmates slowly and try to start by asking questions about things that they might be interested in (hobbies, TV shows... things like that).... You might be able to find some common interests that you will both enjoy talking about!


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EMTkid
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22 Jun 2013, 3:43 pm

Hi Alex! I was where you are now, and I have a little boy your age going through the same stuff. First off, I'm sorry your mom doesn't really understand you. Mine didn't either. But try this, it really helped me: When you go to your new school, pretend that you are a secret undercover agent. You are infiltrating an enemy stronghold or something, and it is your job to observe the people who are already there and play along with their weird little social games, no matter how stupid they may seem so no one figures out you are a secret agent. Occasionally you can even add work-related "missions" to your schoolwork, i.e. if you don't get this page of your schoolwork done in 20 minutes, you won't be able to warn your people about an upcoming attack or something. Pretty much the only way I made it through the all the pointless social ritual and even more pointless busywork the teachers come up with to justify their paycheck.

My son plays this all the time, and has done so good at his new school because he can pretend there is a point to stuff that confuses him and bores him. There is nothing that can be done about the necessity of school. But you can make it a lot less monotonous and less hazardous. Please remember that despite the fact that the teachers are supposed to be on the side of what is right and fair, it is never a safe bet that they will be. They may help you with bullying or they might make things even worse. Your best defense against bullies is to either learn the complex social structure and games. if you lack that ability, as I did, the next best thing is to develop a sense of humor. if you can learn to turn their jokes back around on them they will quickly learn that you are not an easy target.

Now some advice for Dad. I ave been through this, and my youngest sister is still there. This is very important: Document EVERYTHING. Literally, everything. Everything someone says or does to him, every conversation with the school, everything. IF possible, send Alex to school with a recording device if things get bad. But schools are not known for wanting to do anything about bullying unless there is actual physical evidence forcing them to. I am sorry he has to go through this, but he is lucky to have a parent on his side so he isn't fighting this alone.



torquemada
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24 Jun 2013, 4:13 am

EMTkid, and NEtikiman, thank you! Anyone else, please feel free to pitch in.



ouinon
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24 Jun 2013, 10:31 am

My AS son dealt with this by asking not to go, to be able to do home-unschooling, and I said yes.

He tried pre-school aged 3 for a morning and hated it desperately/seemed practically traumatised/deeply shocked in some way by it in fact and I didn't make him go back.

He tried school again aged 5 for three weeks, and hated it, and within a few days/a week or so had reached the point where he actually struggled physically with teachers to get away, and sobbed/begged/yelled to not be left at school ... and after talking with him a few times about looking for the positive aspects to school I said ok. We did home-unschooling for several years in a row, uninterrupted by any attempts at school.

He tried again in last year primary/age 10 ish, at the local public/free school for three weeks, disliked it and so resumed home-un-schooling until we started to get worried, around January time, about the transition to "big school" coming up, and suggested that he try the local smaller "Catholic subsidised sort-of-private" school, which he agreed to and went to from 1 February until the summer hols/end June, by which time he had been v bored/gritting his teeth for well over a month. He kept quiet, kept out of the way of the big-boy-gangs, and within view of teachers during breaktimes, and had two friends for a while until one of them became obnoxious/unpleasant with some cortisone anti-allergy drug-treatment ( his mother explained, too late unfortunately after my son had told me, too late unfortunately, about how sad he had felt being sworn at by someone he thought was his friend, and liked a lot, about this boy's swearing, glowering and anger which could apparently not control ), and my son, ( and the other boy ) avoided him because was so hurt and upset by this boy's disagreeableness. That was a disappointing and sad thing to happen.

Then he tried at "big school/college"/aged 11, for a three weeks again, before declaring it intolerably boring, and a total waste of time, so I said ok to home-unschooling again. Then last autumn, aged 13, he began at the college again, with a view towards the run-up to the even-bigger-school, ( Lycée, for the BAC, here in France ) lasted a whole term plus a few weeks, until late January, before the boredom and time-wastingness became too much for him and he asked to stop. He made a good friend though in that time, who he still sees twice a week, every week, to play computer games with.

At some point I suppose that he is going to have to re-enter the ed-system ... :? ... but for now he finds it too dreary and mind-numbing etc.

One recurring reason why he disliked school ( apart from finding it an appalling waste of time that is ) was people mocking his accent ( he is bilingual english-french living in France *and* he also experienced v delayed speech development, only "solved" after he learned to read, practically overnight, aged 7, which is late I know but I didn't want to push him and put him off reading for life, but he still speaks slightly slowly/clunkily and a bit awkwardly ) and asking silly questions. He has said in the past that he doesn't want to go back to school until the other students have grown up, that most of them are really silly/stupid etc. But he is tall and looks pretty cool so he didn't get knocked about as far as I'm aware ... just "teased" rather persistently and snarkily by a couple of particularly disaffected boys. I think the fact that my son obviously thought school was dire was a point in his favour, even when he kept coming top in maths etc. :)

Good luck. :)



Last edited by ouinon on 26 Jun 2013, 2:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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24 Jun 2013, 11:33 am

Hey Alex,

When I was your age (actually I was a little older- I'm guessing you're born in June/July/August which means you're barely going to be 11 when you go to secondary school), I was already really worried about going to secondary school.

I went on several visits to my secondary school. There was an "Open Evening" in the autumn, then a big "Introduction Day" which all students went to in the summer, then three or four days put on for students who had been identified as likely to struggle with the step up. I think these made it easier.

The number 1 rule is to be polite all the time. Obviously this is quite hard for us Aspies because we don't always know that we're being rude, but try and treat people with respect, don't talk down to them, do nice things like holding doors, always make sure you try your best with work, and so forth. Being polite is more important than being funny. Everyone worth being friends with will value kindness and politeness above other qualities. If people like you, then things will be much easier for you. But equally, don't sacrifice important qualities like politeness in order to get yourself liked, because in the long run it will come back to bite you.

The work you get given won't be too much harder than the work you got at primary school. It will maybe be in a bit more depth (e.g. history and geography will be taught properly rather than just watching a video and learning some superficial facts) and if you're in a top set, then you might find that you're stretched sometimes, but you should be able to perform just as well as in primary school. Make sure you always do your work so you stay in the teacher's good books.

Probably (hopefully) the biggest issue you'll have will be the extra noise, and the hustle and bustle. This is very distressing. There are a couple of ways you can try and deal with these problems. The first is kinda pretending it isn't happening. Concentrate on the feeling of air going in and out of your nose as you breathe, for example- though make sure you don't stand out too much as you do it. Another way is by embracing the noise, start to like it, though this can be quite hard and will become easier as you get older.

If a person appears to not like you, don't let it bother you. You don't have to be best friends with everyone. Try not to irritate them, but also don't go out of your way to please them. When I started secondary school, my major problem was that all my friends from primary school no longer wanted to be associated with me. I made this into a much bigger issue than it had to be by trying to remain part of their circle despite their exclusion of me- really I should have just focused on new people. Don't worry, I don't think my case was typical, but I just wanted to use it as an example.

Finally, if you have a problem, don't be afraid to take it up with your teachers. Perhaps it is worth screening it with your parents first to see if it is worth taking to the teachers though.

That's all my advice for now.



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25 Jun 2013, 9:17 am

Nr.1
Find someone or a group of people with same interests. This will keep you out of the trouble a loner will attract.
Nr.2
For the parent, try to find parents who understand your kid and are easy going.
Nr.3
Show off your skills but don't be a pig head about them. If you're good at art, exploit that, but don't try to be arrogant in other words.
Nr.4
Not everybody will like you and not every friend is really a friend. You're 9 years of age, so hold off on this thought until you're in Secondary School.
Nr.5
Be a kid. Seriously, enjoy it while it lasts. Don't try to deal with teen or adult things like dating and rumours and everything else like that. You'll break ypur brain by trying to figure it out.
Nr.6
Keep clean and out of trouble. Focus on your studies. Hopefully it will pay off.



rapidroy
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25 Jun 2013, 11:27 pm

The most important things for Alex to know are what a friend actually is, what an acquitance is and what a bully is, I sure never knew back then as it never came naturally and my sence of what a friend is got quite twisted. without understanding that all the other anti-bullying and social advice will never be effective. You may need a book with a comparison chart to teach this.



ouinon
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26 Jun 2013, 2:23 am

I *wish fervently* that my parents had deigned to talk to me as if I was capable of understanding this sort of thing, rather than saying all the time that I was too young to understand/that I wouldn't understand until I was older etc. I accept that there were some/still are some :lol things that I did not grasp/have not been able to "learn" ( certain types of executive functioning for example ), but I would have deeply appreciated being part of/at least being allowed to "listen in" on various policy/decision-making processes.

When my own son was 8 - 9, he read and posted stuff on here for a few months ( with a separate a/c ) after we discovered/realised that we were both on the spectrum, and he has loved reading lengthy and complex discussions on Runescape, and Minecraft, and other forums for ages now too; he is often in stitches ( of laughter ) at and/or fascinated by the way people on forums contradict each other.
.



Last edited by ouinon on 27 Jun 2013, 12:07 am, edited 3 times in total.

torquemada
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26 Jun 2013, 5:26 am

These are great. I especially like the "spy" approach :) which is not to invalidate all the other good stuff on here, it just appeals to my inner ch- well, me tbh. There is advice here I wish I'd had, that's for sure.


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torquemada
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04 Jul 2013, 7:10 pm

Bumping this up as my monsters will be with me this weekend. Anyone with anything to add, please do. No birds and bees stuff, lol, that's not in the frame right now, we're just talking survival.

Thanks;

torque


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0223
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07 Jul 2013, 12:50 am

I really liked the be polite advice. My son who is almost 12 is homeschooled, but he interacts a lot with kids who come to our home to see their horses (we live on a ranch and provide horse boarding and lessons.) He can get rude when he is too controlling about how kids should treat their horses or when he's too arrogant about his knowledge. And he really really wants to be funny, and is often hilarious, but sometimes he is not polite at all in his attempts to be funny, and it's true, being polite is more important than being funny.

I'm starting to try to work on some of these issues with him in a more concrete way. "Be polite" is not always something he understands. In his case I really need to work on things that are more concrete. Examples and ideas. Such as:

- compliment other people's stuff. Pretty horse, fancy saddle, cool bridle.
- compliment other people's talents. You're a good rider, I like how you were very gentle when you saddled the horse.
- if you catch yourself staring, smile, and maybe even say something like "sorry I was staring, I was checking out your cool boots."
- when trying to be funny, don't ever use something about a person, like something they just did or said or something they are wearing.

So the same kinds of things can work at school too. Holding the door is a great example. Compliment other people's stuff - cool backpack, awesome shoes. Compliment other people's talents - you seem to be really good at math, you're a good tether ball player. And if you catch yourself staring, mention something you like about the person's outfit or books they are carrying or something like that.

It's also polite to not talk about your own talents. If somebody sees something you're good at and says something about it, just say thank you. That's hard! But try not to say anything about it yourself. That will help make people feel comfortable around you. For example, I train horses, and I am very good at it, and the people I help with their own horses are not as good as me, and they can wind up feeling hopeless and stupid if I'm not very very careful. If there are things you are very good at, you can think of them as your own special secret, and consider the power you have to potentially hurt others and make them feel bad and put down if you actually talk about how good you are at something, and choose to not make that happen.

If you do have some special talents, it can be fun to join a club with kids who are good at the same stuff. Like math club or chess club. In those situations kids can be a bit more obvious about how good they are at something and can even brag a bit as long as they also compliment the other kids from time to time and don't get too carried away.

Things that I really need help trying to teach my son, maybe Alex has some ideas, are how to react when somebody makes him mad. My son will overreact and say things that are hurtful and then it's hard to repair the relationship after that. For example the other day a friend kicked my son in the face - yes, on purpose because he was mad that my son was being annoying... So that was a really bad thing to do, and my son was really really mad. But my son screamed some pretty awful things at this boy and said he never wants to be his friend ever again and that he's not allowed in our house ever again and that there must be something wrong with him. And that makes it hard to move past the incident if he ever decides he wants to. I wish it was easier for my son to just say something like "I am very hurt that you'd kick me in the face on purpose" and even "I think I need some time to take a break from our friendship." That sort of response is really really hard even more most people. But I think it's important not to be abusive in return, just as important as it is to stand up for yourself. For example I certainly don't think he should have said "oh, feel free to kick me in the face whenever you want, I'm just so happy to have a friend no matter what."

My daughter was seriously bullied in school. She did not want to leave school and be homeschooled. Her response was to stay calm and say things like "you're being a bully." "You're not going to get a reaction out of me." The kids would taunt her and try to get her to get mad and hit them. They would get in her face and scream and knock her books out of her hands. But somehow she always stayed calm. I don't know how she stayed so calm but it's something that she is very proud of now that she's 22 years old. She is very proud of herself for never stooping to their level and never doing anything she would be ashamed of.

So not verbalizing the thoughts that pop into his head is really hard for my son. It's OK to get mad at people but sometimes it's not the best to show them exactly how mad you really are, and certain things are just too mean to ever be said, even if you're thinking them. Maybe if he could play that secret agent game, that would help. There is nothing wrong with being odd and interesting and different but if people start to think he's kind of, you know, actually wacky, then that will affect his opportunities in life. Some things are best kept to ourselves, our own little secret. And I think it's totally true that bullies really like getting a reaction. If a bully can make a kid overreact and act kind of nutty, then I think that sort of thing just makes the bully's day. Don't give anybody that power over you.

Bullies also seem to be really disarmed by unexpected responses. I saw a kid the other day say to a mean kid, "Dude, bullying, seriously? That's so 1990s." The bully was caught off guard and actually looked like he might be considering whether or not it's a well known fact to everybody else that people just don't bully other people anymore and that he just hadn't gotten the memo... :-)



torquemada
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07 Jul 2013, 2:44 am

0223 wrote:


Things that I really need help trying to teach my son, maybe Alex has some ideas, are how to react when somebody makes him mad. My son will overreact and say things that are hurtful and then it's hard to repair the relationship after that. For example the other day a friend kicked my son in the face - yes, on purpose because he was mad that my son was being annoying... So that was a really bad thing to do, and my son was really really mad. But my son screamed some pretty awful things at this boy and said he never wants to be his friend ever again and that he's not allowed in our house ever again and that there must be something wrong with him. And that makes it hard to move past the incident if he ever decides he wants to. I wish it was easier for my son to just say something like "I am very hurt that you'd kick me in the face on purpose" and even "I think I need some time to take a break from our friendship." That sort of response is really really hard even more most people. But I think it's important not to be abusive in return, just as important as it is to stand up for yourself. For example I certainly don't think he should have said "oh, feel free to kick me in the face whenever you want, I'm just so happy to have a friend no matter what."
)


What on earth makes you think this is your son`s "friend"? The fact that he has no choice but to interact with him? This paragraph made me so angry that that's all I dare say on the subject. Your son didn't kick someone in the face because he was lashing out in anger, how come it's his job to patch this up? Why should he? Are this boy's anger issues being addressed? Is your son's well being and growth less important to you than your business?

Friends do not treat each other like that, in any circumstances. This is not your son's friend, he is your customer.

As a child, when something of this nature happened to me, I hated the children who told lies about me to justify their actions, and the parents and teachers who took their side and joined, imo "the enemy". There is nothing "abusive" about self defence or being hurt and upset when someone is violent towards you and you are told it's your own fault.
:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

I'm sorry for my gut reaction here, and I'm truly sorry if it offends you, but damn..........


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zette
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07 Jul 2013, 11:50 am

If someone tries to tease you, or gives you an insult, just reply with, "So?" There's no way to goad you into an argument or fight if you just keep using that reply.



0223
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07 Jul 2013, 1:25 pm

torquemada, hi. This is my opinion. Kids hit other kids when they are mad. Adults need to intervene. It shouldn't happen often but it does happen. It is definitely not my son's job to patch it up. What I said was I wish he could be assertive but not overreact, because if he later wants to resume a friendship with this boy, it's going to be very hard after the things he said. I did not fully detail the things he said as there is potentially a 9 year old boy reading this. He had a huge verbally abusive and potentially non-recoverable overreaction.

Should boys never hit each other? Sure, that would be great. But I don't think it's very realistic. This boy is my son's best friend - they have been best friends now for a year. They had a sleepover and had spent part of the morning wrestling around and alternately having fun and getting on each others nerves before the incident. I was just about to get them going on an activity but I was a bit too late. Now if this boy hits my son on purpose, or kicks or pushes or whatever, again, soon, we'll have to give serious consideration to whether or not it's safe to hang out with him in the future.

I could give other examples of my son overreacting involving kids who are not as important to my son and events not as dangerous as being kicked. For instance, a kid is here for a riding lesson. The kid tells my son his bow he's carrying around is for babies. My son freaks out on him and screams and calls him names and says things that have totally ruined any chance for the other kid to ever consider my son a friend. A week later the kid is back for another riding lesson. My son is excited to run out and say hi. The kid is not excited to see my son. My son doesn't understand that his overreaction last time has a lasting effect.

If I consider a deliberate kick to the face among year long 11/12 year old best friends a potentially recoverable situation and you don't, that's fine, but my take home message is try not to overreact. Be assertive. Say what was done and what you didn't like about it. But don't become a maniac and ruin any chance of the other person as ever seeing you as a reasonable person ever again. Or of witnesses to the event of ever seeing you as a reasonable person. Don't do stuff you'll regret.



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07 Jul 2013, 2:11 pm

Good morning/afternoon/evening, Alex. I'm pretty sure you'll say I'm old, since to most 9-year-olds, anyone over the age of 16 is "old". But you'll be pleased to find out how well I remember my schools years, and the serious mistakes (socially) I made while going there. I learned my lessons, and I would give anything to go back in time and redo my schools years with the knowledge I have now. I'd probably have at least an OK time in school, rather than the horrible time I had, and at get to do f the things most 9-year-old kids do nowadays, minus the Facebook and camera phones, the things that do more harm than good to today's kids.

Why more harm than good? Ask your parents about an internet meme called "Star Wars kid" from year 2002. A kid got videotaped doing a Star Wars dance in his room, and the video ended up on the internet. It was on the news. The kid's reputation in school was ruined forever. Now, as a young adult, he's doing pretty well; he's even a little bit famous. But not before he suffered intense bullying because someone thought it would be funny to humiliate him. With almost every child having access to the internet today, this is a lot more common. It barely even makes the news anymore, unless it's very bad, like a violent crime,

And now, here is some advice for you in school.

1. Always Assume You're Being Watched
You might feel like reciting lines from the theme song of your favorite TV show as you're walking down the hall. Don't do it! People will see you do it, and will think of you as "that weird kid who sings". Or you might want to try out some hand gesture trick you read in a science textbook. Again, don't do it! It may look harmless or intelligent to you, but remember: other kids don't care or don't understand that you're just trying something from a book. NT (regular) kids are very good at making friends. They will tell each other about you. And the reputation of you as "that kid who always does weird things" will spread very quickly.

2. If Someone Asks You a Weird Question, It Might be a Prank
Let's say someone asks you "Are you [some word you never heard before]?". Example: are you a virgin? (That's someone who never had sex before; you're supposed to say "yes".) If you know how to answer it correctly, just do it. If you don't know how to answer it correctly, never give a direct answer! Say something like "Why do you want to find out? We both know you don't care about me at all", or "That's a really weird question", or possibly "I don't care", but no matter what, do not give a direct answer. Why not? Most likely, it'll be the wrong one, and kids will remember it and use it against you.

3. If Someone Tells You to Do Something, It Might be a Prank
This is similar to the last one. Let's say someone tells you to do something that looks unusual to you. Example: go to your teacher and say "bench" three times fast. (It'll sound like the word for a female dog.) If it looks in any way unusual to you, it's definitely meant to make you look bad or get you in trouble. So refuse to do it. There's no need to be "cool". Just be stubborn as a donkey; it's good enough. Keep refusing no matter how much they ask you, even if they say "we're not laughing at you". You can easily ask: "What's wrong with doing it yourself?" If they say "we want you to do it" or "you'll be cool if you do it", then it's a prank, and you're the victim. Or if you know the result of the prank, just tell the kids you already know what's supposed to happen. And still refuse to do it no matter what.

4. If You Think Your Joke is Funny, It's Probably Not
Supposedly you want to say something funny in front of a group of people or even one person. Think about all the things that can go wrong: maybe the joke is too intelligent for them, maybe your tone of voice won't match the joke, maybe they don't want to hear a joke, maybe they'll pretend not to understand it just to embarrass you, maybe they'll turn it against you, or maybe the joke will be out of context. Basically, even if there's a tiny chance of something going wrong, don't tell the joke. NT kids know how to recover from an embarrassing situation. You might not. So leave the jokes to them. Tell your jokes to your family instead.

5. Go to Cultural Events at Your School
Your school's art and/or music classes may put on plays, concerts, and other shows. Go to those. Your school's ethnic organizations may do their own shows as well. They generally attract shy, quiet types who are more understanding toward kids like you, which means you won't be bullied when you go. And at the minimum, you'll at least have some nice things to remember from school.

6. Don't Be Afraid to Take In-Class Interactions to the Next Level
So far, I made school look very bad. That's not completely true; it's 20% of kids giving the other 80% a bad name. Very likely, there will be kids in your class who will be nice to you. Ask them if they want to hang out after school, like going for ice cream, to play in the park, or swim in the local pool. For safety, don't invite them over to your home at the beginning. Hang out in public places until you get to know them better. There is no harm in inviting someone one time. No one's reputation was destroyed by a one-time invitation to hang out, even if the answer was no. If they say no, say "OK" and leave; do not try to find out why they said no. And if it's yes, don't get too excited. Just agree on a time and place, hope for the best, and be prepared for the other kid(s) canceling the plans. Just limit the invitations to one person at a time, so the kids won't band together against you. And don't invite them to places that are "safe places" for you (like your favorite science museum that popular kids don't like).

7. Don't Be Afraid to Report Bullies to the Principal
After all, they won't hate any less if you don't. They might even make threats about it. But it's work best for you report it anyway. Don't tell the bullies you're going to tell on them. just do it without saying anything. They might harass you in the hall and tell you they're doing it "because you told on them". But think about it: they were still harassing you even before you went to the principal. You don't have anything to lose by trying.

8. Remember That School Officials Are Usually Not Your Friends
Your parents will be angry with me for telling you this. But it's important to know. And the older you get, the more true it becomes. Don't talk about anything with a school official that you don't want used against you "for your own good". This includes school counselors. Feel free to talk about problems in classes, difficulties with homework, or how you're being picked on. But don't talk about sex, suicide, or anything that makes people worry too much. It seems like you have a good relationship with your parents, so talk about it with your parents instead. They will either answer your questions or take you to a doctor for more help. School officials worry about kids a lot, but sometimes, their reactions can make things for difficult for you than before.

9. Your School Is Not the Only Place to Make Friends
This about what you like. Is it science? Or trains? Or robots? Or maybe even a sport or two? If your family budget allows, ask your parents to sign you up for one of those activities. They usually meet once or twice a week, and gives you place where you'll have a clean reputation. And make sure it's outside your school district; your parents will know what streets act as borders. It'll be farther away, but it'll reduce the chances of seeing your classmates there. Are you religious? Then maybe your church/synagogue/mosque/temple/meeting house will have an activity. There is no harm in your parents asking if something is available.

10. Time Only Moves Forward
I understand that time moves a lot slower for kids than for adults, and the only choice sometimes is to wait. But remember that time only moves forward. In a year, you'll have a new class. And in a few years, you'll have a new school. By then, you'll be smarter and will know what to do and what no to do. So while you may still be picked on, it'll happen less often, and it'll be less severe. Kids who already bully you will, sadly, continue to do it. But new kids might leave you alone, because you'll know how not to make bullying start in the first place.

Note to the parents of Alex. I heard a commercial on the radio for something called Boost Kids. It's a set of DVDs and workbooks designed to teach kids social skills. I'm not sure if it's 100% legit (I'd say yes), and it's probably geared for NT kids, but no harm in checking it out more closely. www.boostkids.com