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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.

picnicbasketcase Tue 16-Oct-12 11:47:08

How sad for her and her DS that they are being excluded due to his diagnosis though. I can see why you feel like everything is being landed on you because you haven't rejected her so far, and of course your DS should be allowed to play with who he likes. I just can't help but feel very sorry for her.

KenLeeeeeee Tue 16-Oct-12 11:48:04

I feel sorry for your friend tbh. She must find it very stressful and isolating, and I don't blame her for reaching out to you.

She feels like she has no one else and other mums from the school have dumped her since his diagnoses.

That made me really sad. My brother has Asperger's and was very hard work when he was little. The loneliness my mum endured was awful for her.

I'm sure there must be a way you can help her and be a good friend to her. Do you know much about autism? Can you read up and find some activities that her DS and your DS can enjoy together?

NatashaBee Tue 16-Oct-12 11:49:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Brycie Tue 16-Oct-12 11:49:21

Poor kid and your poor son. At the moment you're "fire-fighting" which makes everything wholly negative so you need to plan. I think you'd need to do that with your friend and that means speaking out about the problem.

But there must be some things that your friend's son likes doing. Lego or whatever. So can you talk to your son, and your friend, and compromise by playing what the other boy wants to do, under supervision, in your house, with rules agreed with your friend about her response to any aggressive behaviour.

I feel there must be a way to solve this and help the other boy. He must be so lonely.

threesocksonathreeleggedwitch Tue 16-Oct-12 11:51:08

oh poor woman, i feel for her.
I do think that your son shouldn't be "forced " to play with anyone though.
when she comes round, don't make them go to his room, keep them in sight.
and perhaps if you explain the dx to your son, it will help him.

StillIRise Tue 16-Oct-12 11:52:20

She sounds lonely and despersre. If you were her friend you would be able yo give her a little time.
Her son needs friends too. People who have known him forever, who can accept him and his issues, without trying to run away and hide.
Can you not balance his new friends while keeping in touch? Or set them up playing in the next toom to you? Have coffee in the kitchen while they play in the living room within earshot.

Or if you really can't be bothered to make the effort just ditch her. Keep putting her off and ignore her texts until she gets it. She'll feel like shit but you'll be ok.

MaBaya Tue 16-Oct-12 11:52:56

Isnt there a compromise? Cant you arrange a monthly playdate in a park or somewhere where you can have a coffee and keep an eye on the boys? I dont for a moment think that your child should be forced to play with a child he doesnt want to play with constantly, and I do think the boys mum should be willing to keep a closer eye on him if he is prone to aggression BUT....

She is your FRIEND. The boy is AUTISTIC. Show a little bloody empathy, compassion, humanity...please

pigletmania Tue 16-Oct-12 11:57:01

Really a bit of empathy would not go a mis here. My dd 5 has ASD and ut is horrid that all your hope and dreams for that you had for that child will not be, that they are different to What you hoped they would be. You want your child to have friends with children who do not have sn so tat they can learn how normal friendships are.

Ok your ds does not have to see him all the time, just now and again, it won't hurt. Your ds is scared as he does not know YOU need to sit down with him and explain about people with disabilities. Mabey being with him sometimes will help him realise that there re people who are different. If you are a good friend you will support her.

whatsforyou Tue 16-Oct-12 11:57:02

I think you are BU but I can see why it's hard. I think at 6 your DS could understand a bit about about the other boy's autism and it would be good for him to learn a bit about it as he will encounter people in all aspects of his life and avoiding them isn't really the best option.
Maybe you could speak to your friend about it and explain some of the issues, for example walking off and leaving you to deal with him isn't ok but is she finding it hard to cope? Also aggressive behaviour isn't ok either and her DS needs to learn that so could you have the boys play in sight until everyone is managing things a bit better.
I do think your friend sounds like she needs a good friend just now and is maybe struggling with the diagnosis. Can you imagine how you would feel if someone wanted to be friends with you but actively avoided your DS? sad
I really hope it works out for you all and you can be there for her as I get the feeling she really needs you.

claudedebussy Tue 16-Oct-12 11:57:50

i would start by not letting your friend bundle them off to your ds's room.

and i know it's tough but it's not on for her to storm off leaving her ds with you. so i'd avoid situations where that happens.

i'd make a date once every 2 or 3 weeks to meet so that there is something planned and then not be available at other times.

while i do feel for her and her ds, and i'm sure you do too, if your ds doesn't enjoy the time spent with him i really don't see that you should force it on him.

Rooble Tue 16-Oct-12 11:58:25

Your poor friend. Can't you explain to your son that the other boy is behaving differently for a reason? And give him an escape clause for when they are playing together - if xxx happens/gets too much then come and find me. And make sure your friend's son understands this rule too? Perhaps start by talking to your friend and explaining DS is finding it hard, what can we jointly do to make things easier for them? Our school has policies for handling AS children - maybe talk to her about what their school do for the best?

I can see it would be easier to drop them, but at the same time - so mean.

pigletmania Tue 16-Oct-12 11:59:08

Totally agree Mabaya, it's not all or nthing tree is a middle ground. Put yourself in that poor woman's position

SusanneLinder Tue 16-Oct-12 12:02:21

I feel sorry for this poor woman and her son and wonder if you could be a little more compassionate. The one think about autism is the lack of social skills and maybe she thought she could rely on you as a friend to support her. Autistic children are quite often bullied and isolated, and she is probably feeling a bit overwhelmed. It is good for Autistic children to play with NT kids, to learn about sharing cooperation etc and your son could learn a lot too, patience with children that are "different" to him.

However I do understand that your son does have his own friends and want to play with them, so while I think (if you ARE a friend) that you should support her, there does need to be ground rules. The kids MUST be supervised, and she must challenge unacceptable behaviour in her son. I also think you should explain about autism to your child as well, so that he has an understanding of why this boy behaves as he does.

I also think she needs support for her son's dx-maybe the national Autistic Society can help.

It must be awful for her.I have a daughter with Aspergers, and while she has become a little more social as she has matured and has friends who "get" her, it made me cry seeing her left out of people's games, not invited to parties etc, cos she is different.

Peachy Tue 16-Oct-12 12:03:05

'She feels like she has no one else and other mums from the school have dumped her since his diagnoses.' That happened to me: and yes the loneliness has been appalling, a hard lesson.

You need to define 'more time' I think; it's a massive positive for your child and this one if they can spend time together but not to the exclusion of all other friendships. Can you schedule a meet up say every fortnight or so, maybe somewhere where disappearing off is harder for them- a park in summer where you can see them play, a cafe with a play area or similar at other times?

I have gone on to have 3 of my 4 boys diagnosed with autism, although all different- only one aggressive for example. I can easily go weeks upon weeks speaking to no adult apart from DH face to face (Mum lives away), and I get a little desperate and potty- so she might be pressing it a bit hard as a result. Because we moved here I didn't have the gamut of childhood friends I have seen pull other people though, though I have plenty on FB. The tiredness that often acompanies a disabled child can also drive one a little potty wrt social skills too- or it does me anyway, though I gave up and now have gone completely into myself- hardly anyone knows ds4 has SN (just started school) but I learned not to try and make friends as the parents just pull away soon enough anyhow. Have been lucky enough to meet some friendlier people at a slimming group recently but up until then I was not doing well.

But yes, compromise I would say.

Peachy Tue 16-Oct-12 12:04:13

Also, if she needs someone to chat to who has been there and knows the ropes feel free to message me her email with her permission- am studying ASD at post grad now.

Dawndonna Tue 16-Oct-12 12:04:32

This is a very good book for younger ones. Perhaps you could read it with your ds to help him understand. Perhaps you could show it to your 'friend' to show that you are trying to empathise with her very difficult situation.

Acinonyx Tue 16-Oct-12 12:06:46

I've sometimes had to assert boundaries in similar situations. I would discuss with friend - say life is busy and complicated so a regular e.g. once/month playdate would be good - and also suggest e.g. park or be otherwise firm that they should not be unsupervised, alone in the bedroom. I think that would be reasonable - if your friend could get the hang of setting agreed boundaries that might help with other playdates with other kids - so would really be doing her a favour to get into that habit.

If your son actually asks not to play with the other boy - that's tough. I might ask that he thinks of it as you visiting your friend - but it depends how strongly he feels. There is a limit to how far I would force the issue - but I would certainly try.

BatwingGirl Tue 16-Oct-12 12:14:11

During the diagnosis I supported her, it was easy to look after him and babysit him for a few hours a week while he was a young toddler and nursery age. My ds is a year younger so the differences between them wasn't as obvious and they could play together. In the summer it is easier to go out to the park and let them play. Now her ds is a very strong, and very determined young boy it really is much harder. It pretty much ruined my Friday night as it is a constant barage of tantrums, which I could really have done without. Recently life just got a lot busier with my mum moving into a home, dh and I are renovating the kitchen, ds joining football/karate clubs and more playdates and birthday parties all the time. 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. I am her ONLY support and her dh needs to pull his weight more. I have advised her to have more of her family/his family her ds's cousins round etc. but she is clinging on to me even more heavily now. She needs support, but it can't be right that it has to be just me? Because I am her friend?

Brycie Tue 16-Oct-12 12:17:28

Batwing you sound very empathetic indeed. You're now thinking of your son. I agree with Aconyincx gah can't spell it. Assert your boundaries and you can continue to be a good and empathetic friend without risking your son being unhappy and you being torn into five hundred pieces.

bagofholly Tue 16-Oct-12 12:17:54

YANBU. My close cousin has severe aspergers, we're the same age and our mothers are close sisters so we were together A LOT as kids and from my childhood perspective it was awful and I hated it. It seemed that everyone put up with his behaviour (because with hindsight they had to) and yet I'd be told off for minor transgressions AND I had to play nicely with him because it was sad for him because he didn't have any friends. I should add this was before ASD was even documented, and no one really had much of a clue what to do.
And it was awful for him because he didn't "get" whatever the rules were about playing socially, would lash out and had to have things his way or would get upset.
I really feel for his mum - but I think you need to put your own child first, and be straight with her about your concerns, and maybe come up with other ways to support her that don't have to involve your son being upset.
And the fact you're even posting your worries shows you're a caring mate. X

LemonBreeland Tue 16-Oct-12 12:19:35

I can understand where you are coming from a bit, and if you said it was just that you didn't want to spend as much time with her then fine, but it seems to me you want to cut her our completely.

Why doesn't your son know about her sons diagnosis? He is old enough to have it explained to him. I thinkif you agree with yourself how often you are happy to see her, maybe once a fortnight for example then stick to that.

Otherwise just avoiding her and not going into town with her because there will be a scene is very unreasonable.

Lancelottie Tue 16-Oct-12 12:22:44

'it's very draining.' Yes. It is. Now multiply that by, I dunno, the amount of time she spends with the boy versus the amount you do, and imagine how soul-destroyingly knackered she is. Oh, and add in the usual parenting guilt, and the desperate anxiety for the future...

It's tough on you, and you do need to make it easier for your boy, but my god it'll be harder on her and him to have no friends left.

Lancelottie Tue 16-Oct-12 12:23:46

Sorry. I might be projecting just a little here.

Oh, and the 'and him' referred to her son rather than yours!

BatwingGirl Tue 16-Oct-12 12:24:12

My last message sounds really defensive, I'm just tired of posters who think you're not a friend if you don't want to be in a situation you're not comfortable with (every few days). I am a friend. We get on fine. She's great. But I thought this friendship was about spending quality time together, coffee and girly time. Not her walking off leaving him to me for an hour in public while he has a tantrum. I really feel for her and a lot for him as he is adorable and I've watched him grow up from a baby. Over the years I have been the only one who has babysat and looked after him to give her some time. I had thought that maybe a little bit of space to let my ds develop his own friends and hobbies outside this circle would benefit him. I really am enjoying other friendships with the mothers at school and have recently realised how much easier it is to just have a normal playdate.

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