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DS age 15 with AS is very down about social situations...

(27 Posts)
BaconAndAvocado Wed 02-Oct-13 22:15:45

Just had a big chat with him and he said he often feels left out, doesn't know how to start conversations and feels he doesn't have many friends.

All classic AS stuff. I don't know how to help him. All I could think, and say as he's quite a mature 15 yo, was that social situations are something that he will always find hard.

Academically, he's doing very well and is very driven regarding his studying and exams.

I just hate seeing him upset.

BaconAndAvocado Wed 02-Oct-13 22:45:23


RawCoconutMacaroon Wed 02-Oct-13 22:55:40

I guess your DS is similar to mine (he's 16), academic, AS but just about neuro typical enough to see he's different and gets treated differently by a lot of the other kids, "normal" enough to WANT to fit in but Atypical enough to just not?

It tough isn't it? I have to say my DS has matured a lot in the past year or so, and now he's in the upper school (5th year, equivalent of lower 6th in England), there has been a big change in attitudes at school - the kids in his class all want to be there, they have all chosen to study these subjects, and the teachers are treating them as young adults, all of which has had a positive effect on my DC - I'm hoping that this means things will get a little easier for him now (with increasing maturity both him and his classmates I mean). HTH smile

RawCoconutMacaroon Wed 02-Oct-13 22:56:43

And mmmm, bacon and avocado, yum grin!

BaconAndAvocado Wed 02-Oct-13 23:05:08

Thank you so much for your positive response raw

Yes, your son sounds very much like mine!

Yes, he will be going into the 6th form next year and everything you've said about this makes me feel less upset.

I guess when he feels low about having AS I feel utterly devastated as there's nothing I can to take it away. And although I know his AS could be a lot lot worse, it's still hard for him to bear.

( yes, it is yummy!)

RawCoconutMacaroon Wed 02-Oct-13 23:05:16

Oh and we have, from when he was really young tried to put positive spin and "ownership" of his differences into his hands - he not afraid to say I don't understand what you mean, I have AS, did you mean x y or z? He knows he thinks differently and that that means sometimes he doesn't "get" what people mean, but that his differences also mean he understands stuff very easily that other people find hard (computers, chemistry etc), so everyone has skills and weaknesses.

His primary school did not like this at all, as they wanted us to collude in the fantasy that "all children are the same and they don't notice the difference".
He was very aware that he was different so not much point in denying it!

BaconAndAvocado Wed 02-Oct-13 23:05:56

Nothing I can do

RawCoconutMacaroon Wed 02-Oct-13 23:13:59

And another positive pint about school this term, now he's studying all his subjects of interest (all the sciences basically), he has noticed other pupils asking him to explain things - suddenly the geek knowledge (what he knows beyond the curriculum), is valued! He still only has a small group of friends, but maybe it is going to be a little easier to make more in future.

RawCoconutMacaroon Wed 02-Oct-13 23:14:51

And another positive point about school this term, now he's studying all his subjects of interest (all the sciences basically), he has noticed other pupils asking him to explain things - suddenly the geek knowledge (what he knows beyond the curriculum), is valued! He still only has a small group of friends, but maybe it is going to be a little easier to make more in future.

RawCoconutMacaroon Wed 02-Oct-13 23:23:33

I know you say there is nothing you can do... But actually... Have you tried practicing "small talk" we did this with our DS and it actually works - I mean it just needs broken down into a few rules about - a comment about the weather (practice!) let the other person reply, then ask them a question about something (the game, the headline news, some recent event). Small talk can be treated like a game with rules... Although probably the most difficult one to learn is "when to stop talking" smile.

BaconAndAvocado Thu 03-Oct-13 07:50:29

The similarities continue!! My DS is heavily into the Sciences (both at school and at home) and I guess he realised he was different in Year 6 (age 10ish)

No we haven't practised small talk but we definitely will now, thank you. That's a great idea as small talk can lead to a longer conversation and its this getting into a conversation that he finds hard. One of the many aspects of social interaction that he finds hard I should add!

grin at knowing when to stop talking as once he gets going on something Scientific (usually something I really don't understand!) he really has no problems with chatting!

RawCoconutMacaroon Thu 03-Oct-13 20:13:34

Indeed! They sound very alike. I think that learning to recognise a "bored of this conversation" is not easy but can be worked on too...

soontobeslendergirl Thu 03-Oct-13 20:23:06

My son is a bit younger (13 and a half) and we have been told that he could be borderline aspergers but we are really not sure if he is or not.

He does have Social anxiety and is extremely shy but then both his parents were/are so he was on a hiding to nothing - added to that he was bullied in primary school so he struggles with confidence and the social issues.

Anyway we have just bought this book (link below) and are starting to work with him using it and it seems to be really good - we have really only just started this week, so I can't yet say how effective it is yet but I like the way it normalises everything and he thinks that it makes him feel less of a freak. It may be worth a look.

We have told him that we will support and help him, but this is one of those things that he has to want to improve himself and be willing to put the work in to do that. He seems up for it, he has decided that he would like to feel less awkward and happier in social situations so the push is really coming from him.

BaconAndAvocado Thu 03-Oct-13 20:48:17

Thanks slender that looks interesting, although, because of his AS it isn't necessarily shyness that excludes him from social interaction but a lack of the correct social language/behaviour to know ^ how^ to.

I think it's brilliant that you're encouraging your son to take responsibility for trying to improve his situation smile

BaconAndAvocado Thu 03-Oct-13 20:48:43

To know how to

soontobeslendergirl Thu 03-Oct-13 21:10:23

Thanks, it's not just about shyness, it's more about how avoiding social interactions affects your life and shows steps how to move that forward - might still not be what you are looking for, but the key bit so far is the fact that it tells him that there are loads of people who feel like he does and that it's not only normal, it's something that he can get over if he wants.

If he wasn't bothered about it, I'd happily leave him be. There is nothing wrong with being quiet, he is now telling us that he wants to be different so we will see what we can do to support him.

I hope that you find something to help your son.

BaconAndAvocado Fri 04-Oct-13 09:39:04

Letting him know that they are other teens/adults who feel exactly like he does either with or without AS is a very good point soon

I will pass that on this evening!

He's perked up quite a bit, mainly because he has saved up and is getting his new phone today!

soontobeslendergirl Fri 04-Oct-13 10:58:58

Ah, nothing like a bit of new tech to a smile on their faces smile

The first exercise in the book is to find out if there are people in your family that are shy/have social anxiety - he was really shocked when i told him that both me and his Dad were both really shy/anxious as kids/teens and didn't really get over it until we were older and working etc and still have some anxieties about things. I also said that we would love for him to address his when he was a bit younger so that he could enjoy his teen years more.

We are concerned that he will discover that alcohol will make him feel more comfortable so would like to chill him out a bit before that happens!

Interestingly his younger brother is very outgoing and just asked if he can perform in next years Gang show and has joined the debating club at school - you never get two the same!

secretscwirrels Fri 04-Oct-13 11:25:04

I have a 17 year old DS who has similar difficulties. He is very academic and driven but since being very small has found social situations difficult.
He is doing all sciences and maths at 6th form and so mixes with others with the same interests. Unfortunately many seem equally poor at social interaction. He is the goto geek though in his peer group.
Someone suggested practising small talk. This is something I have always done with him. To the extent of role playing or suggesting conversation openers. I have made simple logical practical suggestions for how to get to know people.

soontobeslendergirl Wow I could have written your post, I have never gone so far as to have DS diagnosed but I'm well aware that he has many traits. I will look at that book as DS's anxiety seems to be getting worse as he is faced with dealing with more adult situations.

soontobeslendergirl Fri 04-Oct-13 12:42:55

secret We haven't gone down the route of diagnosis either. During all the bullying, he became very anxious at school and was exhibiting a lot of Asperger type behaviours so we had a referral to the pychiatric service where we had an initial appointment with a nurse for assessment. Given that he didn't really have any of the issues at home and was able to engage reasonably comfortably with the nurse to the point of laughing at some subtle jokes he had thrown into the chat, it was concluded that even with assessment he would probably come out as borderline.

By this point he was about to go to High school (a different one from the bullies) so we decided to see how things went but they said that if he needed further support we could go back and seek a diagnosis for him.

I still waver totally between thinking that he is just shy, to thinking that there is more to it, but I am not sure if a diagnosis would actually make any difference to him at the moment.

There is a high "geek" quotiant at his school as it is pretty academic, so he does fit in better there and I understand that the other kids do like him, but he feels uncomfortable about approaching them if he is on his own and will hang about waiting for someone to approach him. That is not always going to happen though and I can see him becoming invisible when he would really like to join in.

It probably doesn't help that his younger brother has just started High school with him and is so much better at socialising than he is.

I like the tip about practising starting conversations, will definitely try that.

secretscwirrels Fri 04-Oct-13 18:04:11

I prefer to see it as part of DSs personality. The attributes he displays seem to be incredibly common among shy academic boys. And if I look carefully he is just like his father. DH doesn't see it funnily enough but then he doesn't do empathy.
DS has the same problem as yours approaching others, hence my idea of talking him through it. I did it in very simple terms. What to say and how to respond, how to converse using open questions and so on.

I have tried explaining that he must make efforts with those friendships he does have and that it's really no good waiting for others to make the first move. It's hard to see them feeling lonely though sad.
He also has a very outgoing younger brother.

soontobeslendergirl Fri 04-Oct-13 18:19:11

It is hard sad

You are right, it is part of their personality, I think what he is finding hard is that they are only a year apart, so he has always had his brother to do things with, but younger son now has his own ideas about what he wants to spend time doing and with whom he wants to do it with and those interests and friends are not not necessarily what No1 son wants to do/hang out with. Quite rightly No2 son needs to spread his own wings, he doesn't exclude his brother but he wants to go into town and browse about the shops or go to the park and No1 son wants to go swimming so is finding it tough. He will phone a limited number of people but they never seem to be about and then he wants me to contact their mums to sort things out for him........I can't keep doing that for him.

I tried telling him that he needs to try to make more expression on his face as people can't tell whether he is enjoying them speaking to him and if they don't get feedback from him they will stop trying to engage him. I gave him a mirror and told him to practice smiling but he feels uncomfortable looking at himself - he doesn't like his teeth. They are perfectly straight and even but could be whiter as he is not great at brushing them. He was hiding behind a long overgrown hairdo and I took him to a decent hairdresser to get a style that he liked/would suit him - cost me nearly £30 and he doesn't like it so that attempt to boost his confidence failed.

secretscwirrels Fri 04-Oct-13 18:43:28

he wants me to contact their mums to sort things out for him........I can't keep doing that for him.
You are right to avoid this as it gets much harder. Mums rarely get involved when they are 13. Although you will find that teenage boys, unlike girls, are all pretty bad at communicating with each other, making plans or organising stuff. Have a look on the teenage board and you might see that your DS is not that unusual.
I have a similar problem with adults. DS is 17 now so has to learn how to approach doctors/ teachers etc himself. His preferred tactic is avoidance.

soontobeslendergirl Fri 04-Oct-13 19:28:40

He keeps gravitating back to the friends that he knows I have the Mum's numbers for. I know he is probably not untypical in lots of ways I just find it a bit frustrating. They aren't allowed screen time at the weekend until after dinner and neither of them do a sport that involves weekend playing or training so there tends to be time to fill when I need to catch up on housework etc. The usual routine was for me to drop them and maybe a friend or two at the pool for one of the afternoons. No2 son doesn't really enjoy swimming that much anymore and No1 struggles to find someone to go with as he always leaves it to the last minute. Then he pesters No2 son to go with him and it generally ends up in an argument. I think it probably does them both good in a way to learn how to negotiate etc but it drives me mental!!

That must be hard when they get to that age and are effectively adults (I moved into my own flat at 17!) and yet still cant deal with things they need to. sad

BaconAndAvocado Fri 04-Oct-13 21:35:54

DS was Skyped this evening by a boy from his golf club,asking him to play golf tomorrow! I'm so pleased!

Have just suggested that for next weekend, DS should invite this boy to play golf with him (if all goes well tomorrow)

He also went to KFC for lunch today with a friend whose name I hadn't heard before.

Maybe things aren't as bad as he perceives them to be?

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