DS and friendship difficulties(5 Posts)
am going to post on the SN board as well but looking for any advice or reassurance with regard to my DS aged 9. It might be a wee bit convoluted so apologies.
Background - he's an only (not through choice) and has what I hope is a stable home life with a lot of love from DH and myself. Unfortunately I'm now having to work F/T and worry that this may not be helping with regard to some of his issues although I think there are lots of other things going on. He displayed some interesting traits as a small child - sensory issues, picking things up early e.g. reading and numbers, perfectionism. Of course these were identified as red flags for ASD when he was in reception as his behaviour was a problem (at school but not home). In Year 1 this all calmed down and the school stopped worrying. I felt it was important to keep an open mind and look at more assessment later on if he needed it. We all worked hard on strategies to help him.
From Year 1, he was a different child - started playing with other children and making friends. Football really helped him and he was part of a group for the first time. He never expressed any concern over his friendships and was invited to birthday parties etc. However, I did feel like I needed to make more effort re playdates etc as it seemed a bit one-sided and put this down to never being in the playground.
He continued to struggle sometimes with becoming "overloaded" and the school were good at helping him to find a quiet space when he was overwhelmed. He continued through Y2-3 seeming happy and generally running into school each day/ talking about his friends etc. Worries about ASD seemed to fade into the background and school were always very pleased with his progress including socially.
Fast forward to Y4 and things aren't going so well. I'm worried but am wondering if I need to put things into perspective. I talk to friends in RL but obviously I only have one so this is my first experience. One of the group moved away last year (the lad who DS had the most in common with). As a result the group dynamic has changed. DS is now very concerned that his friends son't like him and is getting quite down about it. His self-esteem seems to have hit the floor - quite a lot of this is due to one of the others in his group who has been doing some stirring between the lads. Luckily DS talks to us a lot and has been keeping us in the loop. He's insisting we don't talk to his teacher and says he won't trust us if we do. However, he believes a lot of what the ringleader says.
He's written down some of his thoughts and showed us - a difficult read as he says that he has a problem with friendships, low self esteem and seems to be writing himself off. He's asked for a lockable diary which we've bought him.
I know all this is quite common. We listen to him, show lots of love and I'm trying to encourage playdates with another boy in the class who DS has a friendship with, which the other Mum is pleased about. However, much as DS does like him but I think is more attracted to the slightly more lively (less quiet) lads he usually plays with - it's a chemistry thing I know! we've ordered a book about friendship and DS wants to read it with me. I've reassured him that all kids have L-plates when it comes to friendships. He's also about to join an out of school sports club as he has ability in a particular area and possibly cubs.
It's probably me that has the most difficulty with this. Bar the sensory problems I was SO similar to DS at his age... Shy, difficulty with friendships, academically ahead but socially immature. My difficulties continued until my thirties and I've recently had counselling and CBT which has finally helped me to get rid of the shame I felt around having friendship issues. However, the huge difference is that I grew up in the 70s and 80s and had a Mum with MH issues who emotionally abused me and a Dad who did nothing.
I stupidly thought that with a different upbringing, DS would be ok. I know the fact that he's talking to us is great and he's in a stable family which should count for something.
My questions: am I overreacting and projecting? Am prepared to go back to counselling so that I keep a level head for DS. Also, is all this in the realms of normal or should I be helping him more somehow? It's painful to watch and feels like history repeating itself
I think you may be projecting somewhat. I know because I've been there. My oldest DD sounds similar to your DS...she's twelve now and when she was younger I worried and stressed so much about playdates and whether or not she was happy and confident or...like me.
She's actually fine and has always had friends. I decided that I simply HAD to stop micro managing her and took a big step back.
At 9 it's a bit of a tricky age as some kids are maturing a lot and others are still very like they were at 7.
It does balance itself out though.
I would stop worrying about playdates...I know you might think that because he has no siblings you need to make more effort.
But put it in his court. Tell him that he can ask at any time if he and a friend want to play together....make it clear it's up to him to arrange this with a friend and then you arrange it with the parents.
This is part of the growing up. It's not like when they were 6 and the parents did it all.
In a couple of years he'll be in high school and then they do it all themselves.
Start now by not quizzing him too much about his inner life. He will come to you...
I really relate to this situation too, even though mine are both really young, and I think Jonesy has given you some excellent advice there.
I do agree with you and was hoping somebody would come and talk some sense into me... you're a wise woman
It's great to hear from someone who's a bit further on the journey as I often feel a bit out of my depth tbh!
I guess because I don't actually know if DS is on the autistic spectrum I sometimes worry that he's not managing or getting the right support. However, my gut says he's doing just great without a label. God it's hard to know... just don't want to do him a disservice if he is.
He seems a lot happier today as one of the friends he was worrying about invited him over. I guess I need to back off!!
I'm glad your DD is doing well nowadays. You sound like a very grounded Mum!
I had the same fears for my DD Queen isn't that funny? Now she's 12 going on 13 I can honestly say that I'm confident she's not on the spectrum but is just a creative, sensitive child.
I was, if I'm honest, waiting with baited breath to see how she'd transition into this age as it's often the age when girls on the spectrum begin to fall apart as friendships get even more complex.
But she's actually begining to bloom even more...she has a good, mixed group of friends, one who she's closer to...she's funny and they all have a great laugh together at school.
I must say that I'm glad I stepped back as she did tell me that she felt relief that I'd stopped quizzing her about who she played with back when she was a bit younger.
I managed to stop it when she was coming up to ten. Now, because I don't ask, she just tells me little snippets when she wants to.
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