Autistic kid wants friends but refuses to compromise...

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Sniglet
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02 Mar 2014, 7:27 pm

Help! I am at a loss at how to help my 9 year old son (with high-functioning autism, which is pretty much aspergers) make friends. He clearly wants to have more friends but he goes about it in an obnoxious way that always fails. I explain what he is doing is wrong but he can't bring himself to change his behaviour, even though he tells me he understands what I am saying.

What can I do?

This chronic issue of my son's poor social interactions was on full display this last Friday night. After hearing my son insist that he wanted to attend a dance at his elementary school I agreed to take him there so long as he promised to participate. It was a cute function where kids would line up facing the stage and an announcer would walk them through doing group dances like the chicken dance.

I was actually silently pleased that my son was showing such an interest in attending a group activity (the kind of thing he normally refuses to attend).

Unfortunately, my son completely missed the point of the occasion (which was to dance) and managed to drive a deeper wedge between himself and other kids. In horror, I was watching all this occur right in front of my eyes.

Instead of dancing, my son would go and stand almost in the face of another kid he wanted to be a friend with and start talking about his theories regarding the latest super-hero comics he was reading. There was one very nice girl who kept shaking her head and motioning for my son to move, but he just stayed there babbling about super-heroes while she was trying to peak around my son to watch the announcer and follow the instructions for the dance.

I finally managed to get my son's attention and have him come to the side of the gymnasium and asked him what he was doing and explained that it wasn't very polite to stand in this girl's way. I also told him that he should start participating and this wasn't the time to discuss things. To this my son admitted that this girl didn't like batman at all (she's a Harry Potter fan apparently) but he promised to start dancing and went back. I then saw him repeat this same anti-social behaviour with some boys.

During a break my son kept trying to monologue to some boys who ran away from him, resulting in a bizarre case of my son chasing these boys around the gym as they tried to escape from him.

When we discussed things on the way home he said that he understood that the other kids didn't want to talk about Batman but that he didn't want to discuss what they wanted to talk about. Also, he didn't like dancing so he thought it was silly for me to force him to participate. I asked how he would feel if someone came up to him and only talked about a subject he hated, to which he replied that he would just leave or tell them to get lost.

Clearly my son understands this on an intellectual level. However, he falls back into the same pattern of failed attempts at social interactions with peers again and again.

I have offered to take him to clubs of kids with similar interests, but he doesn't like that. He thinks the kids who hang out at comic book shops are geeks. It's as if he wants to be friends with "popular" kids but isn't willing to interact with these kids on their level. He intellectually understands what these other kids like but just doesn't want to do those things because they are deeply uninteresting to him.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what I can do to help my son avoid such esteem crushing social mishaps in the future? It just breaks my heart to watch him keep subjecting himself to certain rejection again and again.



Tahitiii
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02 Mar 2014, 7:42 pm

Sniglet wrote:
He thinks the kids who hang out at comic book shops are geeks. It's as if he wants to be friends with "popular" kids but isn't willing to interact with these kids on their level. He intellectually understands what these other kids like but just doesn't want to do those things because they are deeply uninteresting to him.
But he **IS** a geek. Some people wear that badge proudly.

Does he play card games like Pokemon or Magic the Gathering? Is he any good at them? Could you somehow haul him into the comic book shop, by hook or by crook, while there's a game going on and see if there's a spark of interest?



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02 Mar 2014, 7:44 pm

Approaching this as "he refuses to compromise" might not be entirely accurate. It can be fairly difficult learning to interact with people differently. For me it took a lot of effort to interact with people in ways that weren't familiar to me (that is, talking about my interests), although I can do it now.

I'm not saying he shouldn't learn, but it's not as simple as motivation or choice.



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02 Mar 2014, 7:51 pm

Sniglet wrote:
Help! I am at a loss at how to help my 9 year old son (with high-functioning autism, which is pretty much aspergers) make friends. He clearly wants to have more friends but he goes about it in an obnoxious way that always fails. I explain what he is doing is wrong but he can't bring himself to change his behaviour, even though he tells me he understands what I am saying.

What can I do?

This chronic issue of my son's poor social interactions was on full display this last Friday night. After hearing my son insist that he wanted to attend a dance at his elementary school I agreed to take him there so long as he promised to participate. It was a cute function where kids would line up facing the stage and an announcer would walk them through doing group dances like the chicken dance.

I was actually silently pleased that my son was showing such an interest in attending a group activity (the kind of thing he normally refuses to attend).

Unfortunately, my son completely missed the point of the occasion (which was to dance) and managed to drive a deeper wedge between himself and other kids. In horror, I was watching all this occur right in front of my eyes.

Instead of dancing, my son would go and stand almost in the face of another kid he wanted to be a friend with and start talking about his theories regarding the latest super-hero comics he was reading. There was one very nice girl who kept shaking her head and motioning for my son to move, but he just stayed there babbling about super-heroes while she was trying to peak around my son to watch the announcer and follow the instructions for the dance.

I finally managed to get my son's attention and have him come to the side of the gymnasium and asked him what he was doing and explained that it wasn't very polite to stand in this girl's way. I also told him that he should start participating and this wasn't the time to discuss things. To this my son admitted that this girl didn't like batman at all (she's a Harry Potter fan apparently) but he promised to start dancing and went back. I then saw him repeat this same anti-social behaviour with some boys.

During a break my son kept trying to monologue to some boys who ran away from him, resulting in a bizarre case of my son chasing these boys around the gym as they tried to escape from him.

When we discussed things on the way home he said that he understood that the other kids didn't want to talk about Batman but that he didn't want to discuss what they wanted to talk about. Also, he didn't like dancing so he thought it was silly for me to force him to participate. I asked how he would feel if someone came up to him and only talked about a subject he hated, to which he replied that he would just leave or tell them to get lost.

Clearly my son understands this on an intellectual level. However, he falls back into the same pattern of failed attempts at social interactions with peers again and again.

I have offered to take him to clubs of kids with similar interests, but he doesn't like that. He thinks the kids who hang out at comic book shops are geeks. It's as if he wants to be friends with "popular" kids but isn't willing to interact with these kids on their level. He intellectually understands what these other kids like but just doesn't want to do those things because they are deeply uninteresting to him.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what I can do to help my son avoid such esteem crushing social mishaps in the future? It just breaks my heart to watch him keep subjecting himself to certain rejection again and again.


GOD! This sounds almost like my own personal autobiography.



btbnnyr
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02 Mar 2014, 7:53 pm

Maybe he will accept kids with similar interests and personalities when he gets older.


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LupaLuna
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02 Mar 2014, 8:02 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
Maybe he will accept kids with similar interests and personalities when he gets older.


I used to think the same thing. Unfortunately, thing don't work that way. It's something in the thinking process. I am trying to look into my past and see what it was like.



btbnnyr
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02 Mar 2014, 8:10 pm

LupaLuna wrote:
btbnnyr wrote:
Maybe he will accept kids with similar interests and personalities when he gets older.


I used to think the same thing. Unfortunately, thing don't work that way. It's something in the thinking process. I am trying to look into my past and see what it was like.


Do you mean that when you got older, you still didn't want to interact with e.g. the geeks at the comic book shop or people more similar to you?


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02 Mar 2014, 8:11 pm

Quote:
But he **IS** a geek. Some people wear that badge proudly.

indeed,nothing wrong with it. :)
some support staff of mine even have fashionable tops on that say 'geek' on in big letters,despite the fact they are as geek as KoR is a brain surgeon, geekery is now the 'cool' thing in the world of normalism,perhaps this is something that coud be played on with the lad if he is wanting to fit in.

as for the original topic,what about finding a young aspie or asd social group for him to socialise with,he will be amongst people of his own neurotype there and wont be thought of as weird.

he isnt doing anything negative or disapointing,he simply differs from the majority group so sticks out when he tries to do things his way;he is an aspie so will blend in better as he gets older.
theres good friends out there for everyone who wants them,it will just take him some time to get there.


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02 Mar 2014, 8:30 pm

It's heartbreaking seeing our children suffer. I think you can use what you are seeing to help, though, so things hopefully get better.

This is hard for me as well, but I think stopping ourselves from explaining what our kids are doing wrong is the best thing, and it's good role modeling because we are not going on about something the other person is not interested in. He probably does not know what TO do, so no amount of instructing him what not to do will be effective. Even if he knows how to dance in other circumstances, he may not be generalizing to the circumstances of that dance. So many times I've been frustrated with my kids, only to realize the obstacle was my not understanding what my child saw, did not see, did not understand.

Maybe if you can help him practice having a conversation with you or joining in an activity you are doing, even if it's a chore this might help? We adults often show interest in what a child says, maybe you can help him practice listening as you talk about something. Maybe guide him into asking questions.

I am still confused by too large an unstructured social situation. If there is anyone who would do this, could you have a play date for a set amount of time with a couple activities you plan? It may help to discuss the rules of being a good host ahead of time also like greeting the friend, offering a choice if activity, remaining in the same room and playing at one of the planned activities etc.

Is a social skills group an option? Those can also be helpful, though I've not found any for my child.

You sound observant and very patient. Please don't be discouraged! You CAN find a way to help him with this.



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02 Mar 2014, 8:33 pm

I agree with what said above introduce him to a group with other kids with autism. Though another thing I thought, what if you took a social situation and planned it out ahead of time, as much as you can, I don't know if this will help but maybe if you do a story about what to do ahead of time, or give him ideas either written if he is good at reading or pictorially. Like maybe start with a small social situation. Though other kids that get his special interest would more like be friends with him... I struggled making friends when I was a kid, though being female I had a little of an advantage. I always felt like I didn't fit in with the other kids. It was hard and the people said I was so intelligent that I had a hard time communicating with the other kids but when I had something I was interested about I would talk a lot but Otherwise shy. Not sure what I'm getting at but in high school I found it easier because I could find people with similar interests as me. Not sure really what to say to help I really hope your son finds some friends.


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02 Mar 2014, 8:34 pm

Maybe you should find some cool, but geeky role models for him.


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02 Mar 2014, 8:39 pm

Yes my daughter is also showing signs at 8 yrs of making attempt to engage other kids. A lot of what is happening to Sniglet's son is happening to my 8 yr old in her class. There are obviously boundary issues our children are trying to learn as they learn the rules of engagement with NTs. My daughter tends to use her hands before she speaks which unsettles a lot of her classmates (although they are getting used to it). One particular thing I hope she will stop is with adults. She has a habit of sitting on their lap before trying to talk. This is particularly inappropriate with male teachers as she is tall for her age and within a year this form of engagement (cute when she was 5) will be unacceptable.



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02 Mar 2014, 8:40 pm

DevilKisses wrote:
Maybe you should find some cool, but geeky role models for him.



That is a good idea. :)


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02 Mar 2014, 8:41 pm

DevilKisses wrote:
Maybe you should find some cool, but geeky role models for him.


I'm sure many of the actors, writers, and authors behind Batman grew up with comics and comic book stores themselves. It could be an exercise in seeing that there's nothing wrong with geeky. It's a shame to see a child who thinks he has to appeal to the popular kids and avoid the unpopulars at such a young age.



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02 Mar 2014, 9:01 pm

Maybe try finding a group or club of kids around his age that like Batman and Marvel Heroes too? My Graphic Prose class is reading The Dark Knight Returns right now, and we're all fans - we'd all be your son's friends, if we could. :D


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