How much involvement with DS's (11yrs, Asperger's) friendship problems?(7 Posts)
DS2, aged 11, has Asperger's /traits (High Functioning). He doesn't 'get' subtle social situations but has been fortunate enough to have a small group of good friends at primary school.
Now in the senior school, Yr 7, he was split up from some friends but retained 2 good friends in his class. However, those two have now formed a twosome and DS2 has struggled to cope with his feelings of rejection. He's not going to be able to make new friends very easily, given his Asperger's. Effectively, he's looking at the next 2 years 'alone', watching from afar whilst his best friend, in DS's eyes, is 'taken away from him' by the other friend. The classes aren't mixed up again for 2 years. So somehow he's got to cope.
Unfortunately, he's reacting with anger - which is how he sometimes expresses sadness, as many children with Asperger's do. He tells me that the other child - X - is horrible to him and hits him but from what I've heard, I think DS2 is verbally teasing/getting at that child, feeling justified to 'get his own back' on him for 'taking away his friend.
All this is very emotionally and socially immature but that's how DS2 has always been. To make it harder, the two other boys involved also have Asperger's traits/Asperger's (although this is a mainstream, academically selective school). So none of them 'gets' subtle social nuances and all are fairly 'blunt' and 'polarised' thinkers.
Should I keep out of this and just see how it pans out, as they're all now in the senior school - or should I try to do anything to prevent things potentially escalating?
I've told DS2 to be polite to the other child - X - and even try to become more friendly with him so that the three boys can hang out together. DS2 says the boy sneers at him/bullies him if he tries to be nice and still 'takes away' DS2's best friend.
I think what's happening is that both DS2 and X are making everything worse for themselves, by blaming each other and being nasty to each other. So I don't think it's simply that DS2 is being 'bullied'. However, DS2 is the one being left out of the threesome.
If DS2 were an ordinary child, I'd almost certainly keep out of it and just keep encouraging him to find new friends. In his case, however, he probably functions about 4 years or more behind his age, when it comes to emotions/social skills.
Any suggestions as to what to do - if anything?
Normally I'd say leave well alone, but in this case I think I'd phone school and ask their advice. There maybe a similar kid who is also being left out that he can be paired up with.
I would contact the SENCo, do they run social skils sessions, can they give advice on friendship and other issues. Do they run any special sessions for teenagers with ASD? Do they do special sex ed for children with ASD?
Even if they don't do any of this, by asking for help and suggesting these ideas, they may do some research and start to put stuff in place. It is a hard time for all kids, but I'm a strong believer of being an involved parent, and when there are issues contacting the SENCo and/or Head of Year. Having worked in schools with teenagers, although they don't want you there fighting their battles/babying them, they do need you to fight their corner.
Thank you Titchy and Mummytime. What's happened since I posted is that the mum of the boy 'caught between' DS2 and the other boy, X, has spoken to me about her own son being unhappy to be 'torn in two' by both boys. He doesn't know which to choose, to sit next to, to talk/be with etc etc.
We think all three boys are now pretty upset about the whole thing and I agreed with this other mum to email the school - namely, the class tutor responsible for all three of the boys.
The other mum said she was also going to do this and she's spoken to X's mum too. I feel much too embarassed to talk to X's mum at the moment as I think her son feels aggressed by DS2, just as DS2 feels aggressed by her son!
Anyway, not heard back from the school yet. I don't think there is a SENCO - or would that be the head of learning support? I think that person deals more with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia rather than the social/emotional issues.
Like you, Mummytime, I'm an 'involved' parent because of DS2's specific needs and I don't think he can handle all this on his own.
There legally has to be a SENCo (in England anyway) they may also have another title, but you should already have contact with them - so maybe the head of Learning Support if they handle IEPs etc. I would definitely be talking to them about this, as social issues are just as important as academic ones; and have huge impacts on academics as most schools realise.
Thanks Mummytime. I've now heard back from the tutor to say they're going to have a think about the situation and then get back to me. So I guess I'll have to wait and see what transpires. I'm meeting up with the head of learning support in January about another of my DCs (more an academic thing) and I can talk to her then about DS2.
Good at least they are listening and thinking.
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