Help with my child's loneliness.

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limeywestlake
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16 Oct 2022, 5:41 pm

Good afternoon. My name is Neil and I live in Burnaby, BC.

It has come to a point whereby I need support strategies to deal with my 18 year old son's emotional challenges. He has become very depressed lately that 'he has no friends to go out with.'

He sees his neurotypical brother dating and having friends and it affects him greatly.

He sits in his bedroom, in the dark, crying mostly, but he sometimes gets angry as he cannot control his frustrations. I would like to take him outside but for reasons that I cannot figure out, he only likes to venture out with my wife and does not like hanging out with me - no matter how much I try to persuade him to.

My main reason for being here is to speak to parents in a similar situation, in the hope that he may be able to make friends with children who are equally as lonely as he.



DW_a_mom
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17 Oct 2022, 3:44 am

I'm afraid I've been blessed with a naturally social ASD son **, but he has moved a lot and he has some standard fall backs he uses as ways to create some social contact in a new place. These might work for your son.

One of the first things he does in any new town is find a gaming store that runs game nights for tabletop card games like Magic. The game nights draw his kind of people, geeky and into game play. It connects him really quickly.

At school, he joined clubs. At his university, the Video Game Design Club was his big thing. He pretty lived in their lab. Three years post graduation and he's just rented a house together with 2 of his former fellow club members.

Basically, anything structured that throws people together allows him to make connections without having to awkwardly walk up to people and make introductions. He uses social scripts a lot to guide his interactions, too.

On-line video games with guilds et all can work well for individuals who are more isolated. Again, there is a structure. My son tends to organize on-line play with people from his former clubs, co-workers, etc., but I know multiple members here form connections through on-line play or through forums like this one. One of my sisters belongs to a guild in an RPG game and those friendships have been a large part of her life for decades.

Also consider if he is suffering from clinical depression. He is old enough to possibly benefit from medical treatment if he is.

I hope this helps. It is hard to see our kids hurting.


** Basically, he isn't afraid to be social, he just isn't always good at it. But he's also been blessed with an easy disposition that people find comfortable to be around, even if he is making lots of social errors.


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Mom to an amazing young adult AS son, plus an also amazing non-AS daughter. Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).


timf
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17 Oct 2022, 6:41 am

The first step is to identify if he is apart because of his anxieties which can prove to be a formidable hurdle or if there is a degree of rejection such as with a person whose sense of humor others find annoying.

The second step is to find out if the primary objective is socializing or romantic.

Given a 50% divorce rate, romantic delays may have longer term benefits.

These two steps can help identify what more specific corrective steps can be taken.



cyberdad
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17 Oct 2022, 7:15 am

My 17 year old ASD daughter goes through phases where she has no friends. However she somehow manages to self-motivate herself and there are times when she seems to everyone's friend at school? you have to expect teens are very moody and brood a fair amount.

I think strengths based interventions are good starting point. Focus on what your son likes doing and use that as a stepping stone to build bridges with other teens. The hope is that if something clicks he might feel motivated if he finds he has something in common with others.



GeneDebs62
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25 Oct 2022, 1:24 pm

Loneliness is the most disheartening feature of ASD for me as the parent of an ASD young adult. I can't really offer any solutions or approaches. But, especially after adolescence when NT youth are "launching" their lives (dating, partying, etc.), the sense of isolation becomes - - in my experience - - one of the most painful things to observe/deal with. One consolation: perhaps as with my child (and as others have mentioned), it will be a seasonal thing - - periods of isolation/loneliness followed by periods of socializing/friendship/etc.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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25 Oct 2022, 6:54 pm

DW_a_mom wrote:
Basically, anything structured that throws people together allows him to make connections without having to awkwardly walk up to people and make introductions. He uses social scripts a lot to guide his interactions, too.

Slightly under-trying seems to be the zen of it all, as weird as that might sound.


PS I’m not a Dad, but I am an Uncle.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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25 Oct 2022, 7:20 pm

cyberdad wrote:
I think strengths based interventions are good starting point. Focus on what your son likes doing and use that as a stepping stone to build bridges with other teens. The hope is that if something clicks he might feel motivated if he finds he has something in common with others.

Unfortunately, a PhD psychology person often does the opposite. Since it’s based on the medical model, the sessions often become making a diagnosis, getting you to accept the diagnosis, and fixating on your problem areas.

An MA or MS counseling person might actually be a greater chance of being strengths based.