My friend's ds has autism, she would like my ds to spend more time with him.

(510 Posts)
BatwingGirl Tue 16-Oct-12 11:44:29

I find this very unfair on ds (6) as he has made other friends at his school who want to come round and play. Both boys have pretty much grown up together, seeing eachother since they were babies. They go to different schools but as her ds has become older, it's become more challenging to have a decent playdate without tantrums every 2 minutes. I've tried to see my friend more while the boys are at school, but she tries very hard to time it for after school so that the boys can be together. I didn't want to say it to her and have said I'm busy after school, weekends I've stopped going out with her and the two boys as there will always be a scene in town. She ends up leaving him with me, walking off in a temper herself. It's very stressful.

For the last few weeks she has been coming round with some excuse (to see the kitten, to see the new rug, they made biscuits) and I can't exactly say no. She asks my ds to play with her ds (7) in his room. I don't like them being out of my sight as I know her ds can get very aggressive if he doesn't get his own way. My ds who does not know about his condition ends up very frustrated and scared. I'd like to keep my friend but not force my son to have to be his friend if he doesn't want to. I know if I say it to her she will really take offense. She feels like she has no one else and other mums from the school have dumped her since his diagnoses.
I just want an easier life. When Ds's other friends are round, they are like angels compared to my friend's ds.

Pagwatch Tue 16-Oct-12 12:26:43

It is one of those difficult situations where there is no answer that will make everyone happy. You are entitled to put your child and your life first. She is entitled to expect some sympathy for her son and, rightly or not, she feels that your friendship is such that you should support her.

Is there anyway that you could change things a bit to make it easier?
Is there an activity that the boys could do together rather than the rather random and fraught 'play' that deteriorates. Maybe you could explain that life is hectic at the moment so meeting up once a fortnight to go to the cinema or Go swimming or maybe a local club of some sort?

It will help her ds to be in a more structured situation and it gives your son some space and some adults around.

I would also talk to your friend about how to tell your on about the asd. Your son will manage better if he understands why this boy can be erratic.

You do need to be honest with your friend and allow her to be involved in managing her sons social behaviours. If she plods on thinking it is one and then you just start avoiding her on that will be really difficult.

You must of ourse put your son first. But between the two of you, you and your friend could at least try to work something out that allows her son to keep working at a regular friendship but in a way that means your son is comfortable.

I know the conversation with our friend will be difficult but phrasing it as 'we want to keep getting together but we need to help the boys. Your son obviously struggles in one areas - what do you think would help him and my son manage with my ds being worried'

akaemmafrost Tue 16-Oct-12 12:27:14

I have a child with ASD.

I have no friends, no-one socialises with us, we were dropped by pretty much everyone after diagnosis.

Luckily I have fantastic family and ex in laws so we still get a lot of socialisation and interaction and no problems as they love ds and make the right allowances.

Please don't drop this friend and her child. Talk to her about it, let her talk to you. Tell her your issues, when they come, can you supervise? Can you offer a couple of hours a week or fortnight so they don't feel so entirely alone? Her child needs desperately the socialisation and she needs to be with people that she doesn't have to feel stressed about her child with because she knows they will understand. Can you be that person for a couple of hours a week?

If not fine but at least be up front about it.

No one talks to us in the play ground, everyone is uncomfortable. My skin is thick now and I don't care anymore but it was very hard for a long time.

Pagwatch Tue 16-Oct-12 12:28:58

X-posted.
She shouldn't be walking away and leaving him with you. Even allowing how difficult it is or you, it must be difficult for her son too.

Lancelottie Tue 16-Oct-12 12:29:10

So, some practical suggestions:

Explain that you think they need supervising to avoid ructions.
Ask her what her son likes doing at the moment. What helps? Burning off energy, playing lego, watching TV?
Plan to do that -- because unstructured free play is honestly likely to be a bit of a nightmare for an autistic child.
See if she has any recommended strategies from the school or whoever diagnosed the child, to make it easier to start/stop activities (everyone is different, and some autistic children are more different than most, so this may or may not Involve a Laminator).
Find the odd good point to mention about him (and not 'he has lovely eyes...')

Errm, I'll see if I can think of more. Is he safe around animals, or does he hate them? Likes trains, buses, water, kites?

waitingforgodot Tue 16-Oct-12 12:29:48

I feel really sorry for your friend. She sounds like she is struggling and is looking to you for a bit of support. I realise you have a busy life too but please try and make time for this lady as she sounds like she is having a hard time. You could also point her in the direction of a local carers group or branch of the National Autistic Society who would def support her and her son

Lancelottie Tue 16-Oct-12 12:29:55

Cross-posted with Pag, akaemma and everyone saying the same thing!

Lancelottie Tue 16-Oct-12 12:32:52

yes, I missed the bit about leaving him with you while he tantrums. That would sound tempting some days really isn't on, much as i feel for her.

Lottapianos Tue 16-Oct-12 12:33:33

OP, you sound like a good friend and someone who really cares about this woman. There is nothing wrong with finding it all a bit much though and being honest with yourself that you just don't enjoy spending time with her and her son the way things are now. You obviously want to avoid cutting contact because you would have just done it by now but instead your'e asking for advice so you can avoid doing it if possible.

It sounds like she is leaning extremely heavily on you and you are feeling the strain. I agree with other posters - think of how you can support her in a way that you can cope with, and that doesn't leave you feeling torn in two. I completely agree that the boys should play at least within earshot, rather than being sent off to your DS's room. Decide how often and in what context you would like to see her, and then extend that invitation to her.

I do feel very sorry for her and her son but you need to put yourself first here. You won't be able to be a good friend to her if you're feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

BatwingGirl Tue 16-Oct-12 12:33:50

Thank you for that - some very good advice. I guess it's time for a hard conversation. I dread those because I give in and will end up arranging more playdates and then later getting more frustrated. I thought the hints and just a little distance would be a normal way of creating that space. I feel like sometimes I am covering for her dh who seems to have totally checked-out.

Pagwatch Tue 16-Oct-12 12:34:05

grin

Yes. Multiple cross posts.

The unstructured playdate is key I think. Complete nightmare for many dc with asd.

Ds 2 has just started climbing lessons. Something like that would be fab. Physical but in a controlled way - a shared activity but focus is on the activity and not each other - tiring (hooray) - plus a skill and a hobby for both boys - instructors on site so mums can chat and have a coffee.

Obviously just an example ....

coppertop Tue 16-Oct-12 12:34:49

I think that realistically the only way you can carry on with any of this is if there are some new ground rules.

She can't expect the two boys to play unsupervised and definitely shouldn't be storming off and leaving her ds in your care. She may well take offence at this at first but tbh it sounds as though the friendship is already on very rocky ground, and without this conversation the friendship may well end anyway.

If there are any local support groups in your area, this may be something that helps to widen her social circle with people who know what it's like. It may be an autism-specific group or one that deals with SN in general. Even if there is no-one there who she personally 'clicks' with, this may be a means to find out what practical help is available in her local area.

niminypiminy Tue 16-Oct-12 12:35:39

Batwing, why don't you just say to her that you don't really want to be her friend any more because you have better things to do? Though you say you are empathetic and compassionate I can't see very much evidence of empathy and compassion in your posts.

So, you have lots on and your son has a full social schedule. Well, lucky him!

My ds1 has autism and I've been on the recieving end of this kind of thing. Suddenly, boys he used to play with are too busy with their full social lives. You think, oh well, he probably won't notice. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I actually cried in the playground when ds1 was invited to his first birthday party after two whole years at school. And ds1 said 'everyone else is always going to birthday parties, they won't invite me because I'm naughty'.

When your child is diagnosed it is a really, really hard time. Often, friends walk away from you, and you feel desperate. All your hopes and dreams for your child seem to evaporate. Husband/partners often go into denial. And your child's behaviour can be very difficult indeed to manage -- and guess what, there is hardly any help and support to enable you to do that.

You say, "I guess it was always one-sided but when life is a little busier for me, I want to take the easier route. I'm just human like that. I do have empathy and compassion but it is very draining and I don't look forward to it. I'm sorry but it's the truth. I just don't. I really would like some peace and quiet at times too. " You can set boundaries and limits, but that isn't really what you want, is it? You just want to be shot of her. I expect if she knew how you really feel she would want to be shot of you.

pigletmania Tue 16-Oct-12 12:35:58

I am probably sounding harsh as we are still dealing with it ourselves. I can see your position, dd goes to a specialist autistic school sc they have a parents group there. Tell her to get in contact with the national autistic society who will have local groups she could join. And meet other parents in her position. Mabey have a 1hour pay date with the two boys once a month. Meet her when kids are at school. Just say you are busy anytime you don't feel like meeting up

Shellywelly1973 Tue 16-Oct-12 12:37:36

YANBU...I say that as a parent of a child with ASD &ADHD.

Some good advice about how to manage the time you do spend together.

To be honest my ds is harder at 7 then he was at 5. The differences between your boys will probably widen.

You are not responsible for your friend or her ds. Support her by all means but you need to put your ds first.

niminypiminy Tue 16-Oct-12 12:38:35

Sorry, just felt too angry there, and posted on the back of it.

Good advice from Pagwatch, Coppertop, Akaemmafrost and lancelottie.

bagofholly Tue 16-Oct-12 12:38:55

Niminypiminy: "Batwing, why don't you just say to her that you don't really want to be her friend any more because you have better things to do? Though you say you are empathetic and compassionate I can't see very much evidence of empathy and compassion in your posts."

How horrible and unnecessary. The OP is posting because she's her friend. And there's plenty of evidence of how much support she's freely given already. Stop projecting.

Pagwatch Tue 16-Oct-12 12:40:53

Niminypiminy

I think that is incredibly harsh.
The op has been supportive for years. Most people can't hack it, most people drift off. Her concerns about how difficult her DS finds these 'playdates' has been the trigger for her doubting her own ability to continue to manage this relationship.

Berating her when she is the last supportive friend this poor woman has isn't constructive. She is concerned enough to be asking and seems open to trying to find a way to make the situation easier.

I save my scorn for the 'friends' of this woman who clearly fucked off years ago

Pagwatch Tue 16-Oct-12 12:42:16

X-posted niminypiminy

Fair enough. It is hard when we have been through it to hear what others were probably saying before they fucked off and left us. I understand.

AmberLeaf Tue 16-Oct-12 12:42:21

There are definitely ways you can make this better/workable, but I think you need to be honest about whether or not you actually want it to be better IYSWIM?

It does sound like you just want out TBH.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 16-Oct-12 12:43:00

I don't think the OP deserves some of the vitriol she is getting - it is not for her to be the sole support of her friend and son.

FangsGoForTheMaidensThroat Tue 16-Oct-12 12:43:24

I think the whole premise of this is pretty horrible, and am glad my friends are kinder about my DD but will stick to just giving a biscuit

Lottapianos Tue 16-Oct-12 12:47:14

'I don't think the OP deserves some of the vitriol she is getting - it is not for her to be the sole support of her friend and son'

Completely agree with this. I am truly sorry for other posters who have found themselves in similar situations to OP's friend but I agree that OP needs to put herself and her own needs first here. Surely if she was an uncaring friend, she would just have buggered off already, not come on here and braved a robust reaction because she's desperate for some advice?

ExterminateYou Tue 16-Oct-12 12:48:18

Agree with pp is sounds like you want out of this friendship and its all too much like effort, sorry.

You said your children grew up together since babies obviously shes feels that they are close enough to stick through this and that you are a good enough friend to give her the help she needs. I would imagine its terribly difficult for her to see your little boy moving forward so easily and having the oppertunity to make new friends that he boy dosnt have.

My 6 year old is undiagnosed but has autistic traits imo and has sensory seeking needs he is a real livewire and we have no friends, like is exhausting try and imagine what its like for your friend

Peachy Tue 16-Oct-12 12:56:36

She shouldn;t run off during a tantrum, that's wrong: could she be depressed? I know I often get shouted at for suggesting it but is &is* a common effect of going through a diagnosis of a disability in your child.

He will cope better in a structured situation, for sure. Ask her to suggest one maybe?

Family might not be an easy option: one of my BIls beleives we would be better off if our sons were euthanised; another that all benefit claimants (DH works but he means tax credits, dla) should be elft to starve or cope. On DH's side his MIL just can;t cope with disability and hasn;t been since in ages, she met ds4 once.
He is 4.

But there are groups out there for carers and asd kids to get together, though she might need some help accessing them and finding the right one- some are fab but I've had some horrid ones too (competitive disability- your child should lose his school place becuase my son is more severe and I want it etc- always happens when resources are limited but in fact we had to fight to get anything from LEA and ds1 needs that placement), Some areas have an NAS worker who can come chat about options, maybe you could be with her for that?

Peachy Tue 16-Oct-12 12:56:55

Also if your area has an NAS Befriender scheme, might be nice for child too

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