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Finding Interests for Aspergers Teen

(24 Posts)
jellybrain Wed 13-Oct-10 22:35:08

My 13 yr old son was diagnosed with Aspergers at the age of 8. He struggles with socialising and has become quite isolated. Recently he has said that he feels 'sad' but has difficulty articulating why that might be. I had a long chat with him this evening about maybe developing some interests to occupy him outside of school which might be a way of meeting other kids who like him weren't as confident as some of the other kids at school (didn't actually use those words but you know what I mean).

Anyway these are the things we have agreed to try;

1. Develop his photography - he has a camera and is quite creative. Become an expert with software and do some projects along themes he chooses eg. colour, buildings, portraits etc.

2. Listen actively to some of the conversations in the form room at lunch or break and doodle some reminders and use these to try some practice convos at home? I could use some advise on this. The idea being if he had knowledge of other peoples interests he could start the odd conversation.

3. Find out about and try Warhammer. He does similar on computer but might be an interest he could develop and the conversation should be fairly easy.

Anyway my question is are these suggestions reasonable. Do any of you have any advice.
Thanks for reading this.
I will be going to bed soon - I have to go to work in the morning however I will check in at lunch time and when the kids are in bed tomorrow so, please bear with me if I am slow to respond.

rpt53 Thu 14-Oct-10 19:55:23

jellybrain, I have a ds 16 with aspergers. he has been involved in warhammer - local shops do warhammer days which he loved, and it led to a friendship with another boy at school - the real sort that involves sleepover / party etc.

I can also recommend scouting - they are very tolerant of difference and at just a couple of hours a week not overly taxing socially. Also, they carry on - 16 yr old is at explorers right now, and after that, at 18 there is scout network.

I have also found facebook good for him - needs to be monitored but it makes relationship building possible where they have time and space to reply with fewer cues, so it is easier, but the relationships seem genuine.

Finally, ds loves acting - totally shocked, it came from left field, but the tryng out of different scenario's, behaviours etc has really suited him, and because he has spent so long observing others instead of joining in, he is not bad at it.

i also give ds a couple of challenges each week - e.g. this week it is to start a conversation with someone at school, starting with an opener such as 'how's it going' and then talk about their interests for 2-4 back-nd-forths. THe we discuss how it went and try to refine.

hope this is helpful.

jellybrain Fri 15-Oct-10 12:13:19

Thanks rpt53.
I have been into our local game shop about Warhammer and the guy in there was really good, there are free beginners course over a 4 week period or he can just go in for an hour and they'll go through the basics let him look at some of the different characters etc. So Iam hoping once he gets over the initial 'this new and I'm not sure' he'll really start to enjoy it.

Ds does go to scouts and he really enjoys it.Infact when he comes home from camp he is like a different child for a while, so much more confident and less withdrawn.

I really like the idea of the weekly cchallenges however, how do you deal with issues around the confidence to do this in the first place? I have asked him to listen into a few conversations this week so we can find out about some of the things his classmates talk about - which footbal teams, bands etc and other interests. I will check in with him on this tonight.

jellybrain Fri 15-Oct-10 12:15:54

..... i hadn't actually thought of FaceBook will definitely give that a try.grin

rpt53 Sun 17-Oct-10 14:53:19

hi jellybrain,

we generally do a couple of challenges a week as it takes ds sometime to get up the courage to start a conversation. I try to get him to choose a relaxed time when conversation would be natural, e.g. at scouts, when doing a projec together. Also try coaching him - give him starter and follow up question - e.g. how are things? what are you doing in...? what do you think of...? crucially, trying to get him to talk about what the other person thinks, likes, does etc rather than just giving information about himself which has been his tactic for so long.

Also, talk to him about conversations e.g. did you notice that person cut the other one off..supported that other person...was annoyed etc to help him develop that understanding.

Overall, I try not to pressure him and make it claer that he's fine by me as he is!!

hope that helps -

rpt53 Sun 17-Oct-10 14:54:31

btw - when you set facebook up there is a way of seeing everything they send and receive - essential for safety, even though it feels nosey!

troutpout Mon 18-Oct-10 12:40:11

Has he tried roblox? ds (13 with aspergers/dyspraxia) really likes it.
Also likes making lego animated films with a camcorder
He goes to a youth group and attends aspergers social skills group run by crossroads...he does a lot of those type of conversation exercises you mentioned there

jellybrain Mon 18-Oct-10 22:56:50

Hi Rpt53 - He did some 'listening' at school today so, is taking that on board- ie just getting an idea of what people might chat about. He was keen to tell me about it mainly because he found it hilarious.

We have talked about using questions in conversation 'because people like to know you are interested in them' he liked the idea of this because in some ways it takes some of the pressure off.
Also someone from the Autism Outreach service was in school today - apparently he was asked about friendships and was asked if he would like some help with socialising etc. He has said yes but, he isn't sure what's happening next!

Troutpout - I am off to find out about Roblox as soon as I've finished Mumsnetting!
Ds makes movies with his digital camera these however star himself or younger brother being pretty daft. I will encouarge him to use models etc. A story baord/idea would be good too which shouldn't be difficult for him.

Are the socials skills groups helpful? I'm not sure whats available in my area.

troutpout Wed 20-Oct-10 10:05:27

Yes smile I had my doubts about the social skills group too... lol ie-'surely it is a bunch of teenage boys, all with poor social skills sitting in a room ignoring each other!' wink..But No. It's taken time (he's been going for about 3 years) but he has forged relationships within the group.
It's run by 2 salts employed by crossroads and a lot of those conversation 'exercises' are done they talk about aspergers and what it means for them. It's been good. Also they do really good trips out ...dd is very jealous of all the trips coming up.

Lol love the comment about your boy finding what people 'chat' about hilarious grin. Sounds like the sort of thing my boy would say....he has a very dry sense of humour...i love it.

Where are you? I know that the services that crossroads provide very much depend on where you live. They have a website here you can click on regional centres and find out if there is something in your area.

amberlight Tue 26-Oct-10 11:07:56

We're great at talking about our own interests, as you know. If I'm meeting people I don't know, I'd rather be doing a task and talking to them at the same time, so there's no eye contact BUT it doesn't seem weird to them that there's no eye contact. If I have to do eye contact and also think of what they're saying, my brain wiring fuses and cuts out.

It's why we like to know what the topic is going to be - because we can still think up some 'standard things to say' even if our brain wiring has fused/is hurting like heck because of the overload.

I'd say let him socialise his way and feel good about socialising his way - online, through gaming sessions, whatever works. We're pretty sociable, but society thinks our ways of being sociable 'don't count because they're not face to face and with eye contact'. So we end up feeling dreadful that we've got it wrong. We haven't. We just do it differently.

Don't know if that helps or not...

CircusMamma Tue 26-Oct-10 12:04:00

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Goblinchild Tue 26-Oct-10 12:14:10

Really? Apart from the fact it's a blatant advertisement, I can't think of anything my son would hate more than an unstructured, drop-in free for all circus workshop with noise and stuff flying everywhere and his poor motor skills on display for all.

Did you really post this with any experience of ASD children, or just drumming up trade?

purplepidjin Sun 31-Oct-10 21:40:24

"If I'm meeting people I don't know, I'd rather be doing a task and talking to them at the same time, so there's no eye contact BUT it doesn't seem weird to them that there's no eye contact. If I have to do eye contact and also think of what they're saying, my brain wiring fuses and cuts out."

I've advised students I've worked with to focus on the bridge of the person's nose, or their ear, instead of looking in their eyes. Does this actually work? I know it's really hard to tell the difference when someone does it

PS I'm a part time youth worker. There's a lad with AS who sometimes comes and we all keep a particular eye out for him; and one of the other clubs in my area does an SN specific night (which this particular lad enjoys). Maybe your area has something like that? Just FYI, though, the SN night has all levels of ability so he may find he's one of the most able... Good for confidence, though?

caternina Mon 13-Dec-10 18:21:22

Hi, I've just joined in the hope that someone might be able to give me some advice. My son is nearly 13 and seems to have all the symptons of AS. He seems to be at the lower end of the spectrum and 'shadows' all the symptoms. I've tried to get help as he clearly struggles with social skills and is getting more and more depressed. He is in the 2nd year of secondary school and has no friends. He has been diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. His only interest is languages and he is extremely good at them. He could be a good sportsman, but is not a team player. We have tried tennis, hockey, rugby, scouts, triathlong training, judo and he will go through the motions, but isn't really interested and never clicks with anyone. He seems to be heading for depression as he is anxious about everything he says or does. He can come across as arrogant if you disagree with him and most situations are misunderstood. His father and I split up when he was a baby and his father prefers to bury his head in the sand and sweep everthing under the carpet. I don't know how to prepare him for adulthood or whether to tell him that he is 'different' (as I am sure he already knows it). To add to this he is very effeminate and confused about everything. He has been called 'gay' and thinks he might be, which adds to his depression. Is there anyone that can help me with advice as I've tried doctors and CAHMS locally and they are not very supportive and don't appear to have funding to help. He is also very good at pretending everything's fine and is extremely polite.

SauvignonBlanche Mon 13-Dec-10 18:27:40

Hi, my DS is 13 and also has AS. He has recently started going to Karate and now goes twice a week, he's really enjoying it and is mixing with NT children and adults.
I have just let him have a FB account and it does mean he is 'socialising' with his peers.
I do keep an eye though.

ontherainbow Wed 15-Dec-10 13:45:33

Caternina, you poor thing. I really feel for you and your son.

Have you thought about drama classes to up his confidence? He may find certain groups overwhelming, but maybe there is a small class somewhere near that can encourage self-esteem for him?

The National Autistic Society has a page on their websites that tells you about local get-together groups - maybe there is one near you where you both can meet children and parents alike?

Also, with regards to telling him about AS/ASD etc. Luke Jackson is a teenage author that explains his condition in kid-friendly text. It was great for my son to read his books and realise this kids quite cool and very similar to himself.

Good luck

charlieliz Sun 02-Jan-11 17:06:18

My 12 yr old DS has got into scuba diving as he hates team and competitive sports but loves diving as you dont have to talk and its nice and quiet down there - he goes 1-1 with an instructor who understands him, he is already qualified and is doing the advanced course in April. I am hoping that once he gets to Uni he will be able to join a diving club and make some friends that way as at the moment the only time he leaves the house apart from for school is for diving -but he is happy with that as he seems to need the rest of the time being quiet and felling comfortable at home.

toomanyteens Sat 15-Jan-11 11:11:20

Hi have just read caterninas post about her son. My son is now 17. we always knew he was different and i told my husband i thought he had some form of autism when he was 2. (his concentration levels and 'zoning out' of everything were phenomenal for a 2 year old)anyway we muddled along with us encouraging all his 'interests' and explaining 'kids rules' . how to make friends (didnt really appear interested in this unless they wanted to play his games his way !)no one such as teachers etc ever commented on his differences but we decided to get him assessed at the age of 16 as he was struggling to make sense with 'normal teenage stuff' anyway had him assessed and was told he was on the very edge of the autistic spectrum and has very mild son loved this as he now knows why he feels different to other kids and also has told us he now knows he is 'special' he says this with a very heavy humerous slant !! his teachers in secondary school were surprised to learn of his diagnosis, having always just presumed he was shy. (he is not)anyway we feel our son is better knowing he has AS. he is much more relaxed and also our daughters are more tolerant about his behaviours and little ways. I would definitley look into getting him seen at a specialist unit where they will assess him and tell you there and then if he is on spectrum. Also how about fencing as a sport/activity . my son has been going since he was 10 and loves it . its not really about teams very little body contact and you dont really have to do a lot of talking, and focus is only on one thing, the other person . but heres the good part (as my son says)you and the other person wear face guards so you cant see their face or facial expressions !!

mollymole Sat 15-Jan-11 19:01:46

have you considered athletics clubs - they often have a special needs and disability athletics section - when i was coaching i went into special schools and had great results, especially within the autism spectrum - most good coaches are able and willing to adapt sessions as required

WillowInGloves Thu 17-Feb-11 12:25:07

Hi all, just got an Aspergers dx (after years of waiting) and I'm reading my way through the boards, trying to find my place here ...
This thread has been fascinating for so many posts.
Toomanyteens, my ds (13) also does fencing and I had never thought of the face guard thing!! Light bulb has just gone on in my head! This is why I love mumsnet - lightbulb moments!
Caternina - has your ds tried individual sports? My ds cannot do team sports and I'm told this is fairly common for those on the spectrum. However, there is fencing, and all the stuff like swimming, trampolining, skating ... I think my ds finds that if he can counter the 'you're no good at football' remarks with 'yeah, but I'm brilliant at skating ...' it helps to keep his reputation up in class.
And to go back to the OP, yes, my ds comes home and tells me what the others in class talk about, I make it my business to find out a bit and then feed that back to him so that he can keep up to speed. Gradually, he has learned to do this himself - he listens and says nothing till he knows what's going on. Facebook/youtube etc. also all very useful for the same reason.
Thank you all for being here. It makes me feel better.

WetAugust Fri 18-Feb-11 20:10:37

Air Rifle Club
Tae Kwan Do

bettyboop63 Fri 25-Feb-11 00:32:36

how at sea cadets
air/army cadets
and at ss they do horse riding, karate, and trampolining, also fo young people in my area they have a SEN club esp for teens with sen

specialmusic Fri 22-Apr-11 17:56:36

In addition to all the good advice here have you thought of getting him to learn a musical instrument? I have seen young people with ASD get into learning to play the piano, for example, partly because reading music is very analytic; it involves hours of focused practising and also because the piano is an instrument you can really enjoy playing on your own (as opposed to, say, the vioin, which is more and orchestra/ensemble instrument).

SusanneLinder Fri 17-Jun-11 12:19:59

Riding-expensive sport,but not if you try Riding for Disabled. My Dd 12 goes, and she loves it,very calming.

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