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How to help Asps. DS 'share' friends

(7 Posts)
Solo2 Sat 24-Sep-11 11:13:42

How do you help a child with Asps traits feel comfortable with 'sharing' friends and not feel threatened/ worried that if a friend likes someone else and plays with them, they'll stop liking him?

DS2 (10 yr old fraternal twin) with Asps. traits (high functioning/ gifted) is finding it harder to trust in the friendships he's made and feeling that his friendship group is being 'invaded' by his neurotypical twin DS1.

What he means by 'invade' is that DT1 will join in with the 'gang', who are also now his friends but inevitably because of his greater social skills, elicits more interaction than DT2. DT2 then goes to the sidelines and feels upset and unable to do anything to join in.

DT2 has always felt threatened about 'sharing' anything. He was able to make one good friend - who is a gifted child with Asperger's. This expanded to adding 2 more 'geeky' friends to that group.

Meanwhile, NT DT1 had a terrible yr last yr socially (after a lifetime of alwasy making friends easily) and has now happily settled with the ever increasing 'gang' that has DT2 and friends as the core of it. So I'm much happier that DT1 is happier but now worried that DT2 can't cope with his brother coming in on the gang. It's not just about his twin, it's also anyone at all who gets friendly with his friendship group. DT2 feels like he'll lose his friends to the newcomer.

I've tried to explain to DT1 that he's not doing anything wrong and that he was just born more able to make friends than DT2. He knows about DT2 having Asps traits and has always had to make allowances. I've also tried to explain to DT2 that he can share friends, can try initiating contact too, like DT1 does...can even befriend anyone who might be friendly with his main group of friends, rather than considering them an enemy, out to take his friends away.

Anyone on here with a high functioning DC with Asperger's or traits, will understand how hard it is to help with social skills with peers and how as these children approach adolescence, this gets even harder. Can any of you give me some specific pointers towards what might help? What can I say to him? The bottom line is that he was born with less ability to 'read' the subtle nuances of his peers and a greater need to 'be in control' of everything and everyone. How can I help him to find his way through the ever more complex world of peers as he gets older?

coff33pot Sat 24-Sep-11 12:35:44

I cant really help a lot as my DS is only 6 and basically has no friends to speak of. Goes to Beavers and says he is going to see his friends but the interaction doesnt happen unless he is charging side by side in a playground.

Only thing I can suggest is that you speak to his brother and ask him to notice when DS1 is disapearing into the sidelines and include him quickly back into the conversation so he dosent feel distant and pushed out. Its all part of the turn taking in convos and the need to feel in control. My DS cannot cope with not knowing what is happening next and so he needs to be incharge so to speak so he is sure of the next event or conversation and its a hard one to break.

Solo2 Sat 24-Sep-11 15:15:49

Thanks coff. I did ask DT1 to try to do this but I think he's too ypung to have to keep monitoring DT2 all the time and he also gets frustrated that DT2 is upset by him simply interacting with the other children. He was joking on with DT2 and other friends the other day (they were doing 'dares')and DT2 didn't 'get' the joke and was actually crying after school about it and DT1 was mystified that his brother hadn't said anything at the time and at why he'd been upset at all when other children would just see the whole thing as fun.

Are there any specific ways you can teach a child with Asps/traits to join a game/ conversation without either needing to take it over or withdraw altogether?

I've tried to suggest, for example, that DT2 goes up to a child and says something complimentary about them, as a prelude to a conversation or maybe makes a suggestion eg "Would you like to do X with me?" DT2 finds this hard as his world is very self-centred and occupied by his own interests and he sees 'friends' as people who want to listen to him and go along with his control.

His closest friend - a much more passive, quiet gifted child with Asps. - will happily listen to DT2 for ages and will comply with what DT2 wants. They've been split into different classes this year for the first time since they were 5 yrs old, although they're still in the same English classes. I think DT2 feels generally more insecure with this and the fact that the wider 'gang' has also been split between classes too.

Does anyone know of any specific books on helping children with high functioning Asperger's transition into the more complex world of teenage peer friendships?

swanriver Sat 24-Sep-11 18:08:48

I have to say that I have exactly this problem with my twins dd/ds2. My ds2 has just been diagnosed with HFA/Asperger's aged 9.

They used to play happily until they were seven, now their bond has very much gone "underground" and they fight bitterly over friends in the house.

I joined an ASD support group which I hope will give me some good ideas. It was run by CAMHS in our area.

In the meantime for want of more sophisticated strategies, I take the line
a)that all siblings fight over friends (and fight!),not just Aspie or twin siblings.
So it is not something to get deeply stressed or pyscholobabbly about, just to accept as part of difficulty of having more than one child.
b) what happens in school I can't do anything about. From anecdotal evidence I know that some twins (and siblings too) have nothing to do with each at school, whatever they do at home.
c) what happens at home I can. Which means I make an effort to make sure ds2 has a special friend when dd has a special friend over, if dd's friend is not used to playing with ds2. This stops the "left out" situation.
d) I might do tricks like ensuring ds2 is watching a telly programme that he likes or goes on computer if dd and her friend are likely to cause friction. Or do something special with ds2 whilst the dd and her friend(s) are playing, like chatting, cookign supper, playing with him alone, asking him about his day

Leaving everyone to their own devices unless they are very old friends can be disastrous, whatever people in NT households manage or may tell you. We quite regularily have ds2 trying to smash dd's door down to try and disrupt her playing with her friends.

I've learnt that expecting dd to stick up for her brother all the time is very hard on her. She loves him very much but she needs to have her separate friends and not be constantly his "keeper". However sympathetic to dt2 you are it is important not to put all the responsibility on her, or it rebounds.

Long term I think you should be expecting them to have totally different friendship groups, unless it is close family and not think there is anything wrong in that. I was a very shy (possibly ASD) child and used to follow my younger sister round, but I'm glad to say that when I got to secondary school I had entirely my own group of friends, and that was very important.

I'm sure there are lots of good books and I'm sure I'll be reading them too grin but for the moment I suppose I'm just accepting I can't spin straw out of gold, and have to be quite patient and make small steps in right direction, instead of tearing my hair out.

swanriver Sat 24-Sep-11 18:11:28

Ds2 is just sitting in my lap and saying (winningly)
Mummy do you ever think I'm a problem, because you don't always have the smiley face you used to have!blushshock

he's now laughing his head off at this message biscuitgrin

he especially likes the biscuit

swanriver Sat 24-Sep-11 19:51:32

Sorry Solo I see I was answering your question the wrong way round, now that I've re-read it.

What might appear obvious to others in social relationships is not obvious to the ASD child/teen. A joke or messing around might be a mortal insult, being left out is taken very hard. No amount of explanations is going to make much difference as an ASD child is hyper sensitive (to his own feelings, in some cases hmm)

So however much you analyse the whys and wherefores, that's not going to change.

I think you have to start with the positives. You have an interesting, intelligent sensitive child, that wants to have friends. So you have to play to his strengths rather than worrying about his weaknesses. As you yourself have pointed out he has friends who like him.
Don't worry about the politics, just remind yourself that he is loveable and likeable and the rest will follow.
I think ASD children are particularily sensitive to input from their parents, and a mother's confidence, cheerfulness goes a very long way in reassuring the child that he is gong to be "alright". Of course you should help him with his specific difficulties, but I think just believing in your child, and feeling happy in your life with them and exuding confidence can help.
I know the minute I am stressed and doubtful, or there are lots of changes, that waves of stress start coming off ds2, his behaviour starts deterioating and he goes to pieces. For all people tell you, people wth HFA can be highly empathetic to those they are close to.

I know that I as (what I now suspect was) an ASD teen found it quite necessary to make very close (almost jealous)bonds with people, because I suspect that was a surefire way of working out how the world worked. If I was close to someone, it was so much easier to read the signals and communicate successfully. I'm sure that's why your dt2 prizes special friendships and doesn't want dt1 or any outsider to come in.


swanriver Sat 24-Sep-11 19:59:19

P.s. when things are very relaxed, I've often been pleasantly surprised by the way the ds2 does join in, and play with other children, or dd's friends. Sometimes even with imaginary games.
I forgot to mention that structured sport, where the rules are clearly followed (rather than games which people make up the rules as you go along! disastrous) is a wonderful way of getting ds2 to play with other children and feel more part of the gang.
Sometimes a long walk in the right atmosphere, where there's no pressure is another wonderful way of bringing out the better social skills of ds2. Just physical release I suppose, stops him controlling the situation so much, he just lets go and joins in with others. I think the natural world is very soothing smile

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