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How to help AS teen get friends

(28 Posts)
sergeantmajor Sun 07-Feb-16 11:48:30

14 yo ds1 has Aspergers, with an extreme aversion to making social overtures, even though he does enjoy the company of others. This has led to him being isolated and lonely.

If he was happy in his own company, I'd be inclined to leave him be and not stress him with social interaction. But he is not happy and the more isolated he becomes, the less interaction he has, and it's a negative cycle.

He seems liked by others in his class, but he does not engage with them. He avoids them, deliberately taking a different school bus.

How can I help him? I'm due to talk to the SENCO at his school but I haven't a clue what to propose.

In the past I have forced him to group activities (scouts and a local youth club) which he actually enjoyed and continued going to willingly. But he has outgrown them.

In the past I could call up mums to arrange playdates but that is ludicrous now for a 14 yo with a (totally unused) mobile phone.

I can barely talk to him about the subject because it is very sensitive and stressful for him.

I would be very very grateful for any suggestions or to hear from anyone with similar experiences.

CMOTDibbler Sun 07-Feb-16 11:52:20

How about playing Warhammer? If theres a local Games Workshop to you they run games of it for free - its totally rules based and you are busy playing the game so there is social interaction, but not scary free form stuff. DH has always done this sort of roleplaying, and I notice there are a lot of people on the spectrum who enjoy it.

sergeantmajor Mon 08-Feb-16 11:14:46

Thanks so much for your reply CMOTDibbler. I will have a look into it.

Schrodingersmum Mon 15-Feb-16 15:24:47

Totally agree, DS plays and almost all of the regulars are somewhere on the spectrum

Often schools have their own club, most at DS's school are similar to him

DH and his brother did athletics and golf as teens/ young adults in a similar way

QueenStreaky Thu 25-Feb-16 19:56:15

It used to frustrate me that the onus was always placed on the person with autism to make the first move with friendships. All the books I read on social contact and friendships gave advice for how they should approach others, but that's such a daunting thing to do, and increases stress in young people who most likely are already anxious.

My ds loves comedy and he had a thing for funny slogan t-shirts. I encouraged him to wear them to his groups and suddenly they would be approaching him, commenting on his t-shirts, and that led on to conversations about eg Blackadder, Maths or whatever of his interests his clothes reflected.

I also made biscuits and cakes regularly and he'd take some to his groups to share out. Very soon people would wait for him and ask if he had cake. It took the stress out of interactions because it wasn't just his responsibility any more. Maybe worth a try?

Rachcakes Fri 15-Apr-16 21:50:59

My son is a skater. He lives to skate. He understands the rules at the skate park - no snaking, wait your turn etc and they are a pretty encouraging bunch.
He doesn't handle freeform social situations well but he can cope there and has made some friends on the scene.
I think basically, if you can find something with some kind of rules, behaviour code, or etiquette, be that dungeons and dragons or golf or whatever, that he enjoys he'll find it easier. Having the common interest helps too, as the only thing DS wants to talk about is skateboarding - which is fine at the skate park.

rustybits Mon 09-May-16 15:31:00

Have you thought about getting your son to join the ACF (army cadet force)? If he enjoyed the scouts but has outgrown that, then ACF could be worth thinking about. Lots of structure/routine and teamwork etc so will make friends.

Kleinzeit Thu 26-May-16 10:01:50

Between 12 and 15 my DS (ASC) went through a hermit stage. He was OK in school but didn't want to see anyone out of school.

Is there a local Duke of Edinburgh group? It didn’t help my DS make friends exactly but it did get him out of the house and doing a few things with other people. For his bronze award DS went along to a weekly meeting after school, he did an hour a week volunteering in the charity shop, he did a music lesson and swimming lessons that counted towards it, and he camped out overnight with other kids.

If he enjoyed the youth group is there any chance he could rejoin as a helper? Or is thre anything similar in school? My DS's school had a club for first-year kids with social difficulties which DS attended in his first year and then carried on as a mentor the next year.

Not related to the school but at about that age DH and I also encouraged online socialising in a safe-ish environment. DS played Travian for a year or two, which is well moderated so we didn't have to worry too much about bullying etc. Some people can get over-absorbed in these games though so it's a bit of a judgment call whether you want to encourage it.

Citizensmith1 Mon 30-May-16 20:29:12

Hello, am in a similar position, son nearly 17. Always struggled socially and for a long time didn't mind as he was happy doing his own thing. Now he desperately wants friends but can't bear talking on the phone. Peers have been downright cruel to him on FB messages, mocking him and winding him up so his confidence is really knocked. No-one in his 6th form bullies him (now) but I fear the damage is already done. It really does hurt me to see him so unhappy. He has such a quirky sense of humour and such innocence still and is so funny if people got to know him.

Am really struggling to help. He recently did a football coaching course for a week but hated it and hated being in an environment where he had to talk to others because he finds it so hard.

Sorry to hijack OP without any suggestions - just wanted you to know I am in similar situation and know how hard it is.

OneWaySystemBlues Tue 31-May-16 08:31:09

Me too. My son is 19, has ASD and is just leaving college after an horrendous year of struggling to fit in, being excluded by his peers and borderline bullying. I just don't know what to do. If he didn't mind not having friends I wouldn't be so concerned, but he does and it's devastating. I just don't know what to do.

Absinthe9 Fri 03-Jun-16 22:28:10

So sorry to hear about your DS Oneway. My DS (18) is about to go to college and I must admit I'm half expecting that it will be awful. He ha a terrible time in mainstream secondary school and I had to homeschool him for a bit before he eventually ended up at a very nice special school.

Yes there really is rubbish provision for late teens aspies to socialise. I've looked on the NAS website but there appear to be no social groups in our area (London FGS!).

I keep thinking that maybe I should set up (a) some sort of moderated online social forum for aspie teens to socialise and (b) a real life social group for aspie teens in London (I can find adult groups on meetup but that would not work for my DS).

Would anyone be interested in discussing what that might look like and what would appeal to your DC?

OneWaySystemBlues Tue 07-Jun-16 20:53:27

I hope college works out for your son Absinthe9. My son's had 3 years at college, doing a Level 2 BTEC, then a Level 3. The first 2 years went quite well - after pretty much hating school all the way through and having no friends - but the last year has been bad. I'm the first to admit my son isn't easy to get on with, but this year he's been blanked and ignored by someone he thought was his friend last year. He's found it very difficult to talk to other people as he finds it hard to talk to people anyway and has generally been ignored, and marginalised, to the point of making him too upset to go in to college a lot of the time.

One of the frustrating things I find is that he is so passive. I still do everything for him, he doesn't seem to have any goals or aims. He seems to expect life to just happen for him. He doesn't think about the big picture. He's not being selfish, he just can't see beyond his immediate surroundings. And he is unconfident and anxious. I have to make his appointments for him, talk for him (mostly - he has improved quite a bit), be his advocate, deal with his mail, take him to appointments etc. Sometimes I worry he's this way because that's the way it's always been - but it's always been this way because that's the way he is, if you see what I mean! If I wasn't proactive, nothing would ever happen. He wouldn't go to the doctor when he needs, he wouldn't have had the right support at college, he wouldn't have any benefits etc. etc.

I don't have anything much planned for him when he leaves college in the next few weeks and he doesn't have any friends, except a few online ones he's met through Xbox - but they're all off to Uni soon and he isn't, so I can't see them keeping in touch much.

I'm finding that all support just seems to wither away once education finishes. Especially if you don't have learning difficulties as well but at the same time aren't up to going on to higher ed either. My son falls between the two and there seems to be nothing for him. He talks about wanting to get a job - but in the sense that you want to go to the shop and buy some bread - he doesn't have any idea of how you get a job, how you have to turn up even if you don't want to or don't like it, day after day - and that you can't just decide you want to work in a particular place and just get a job there. I'm feeling very worried for him - and me - at the moment. My whole life has been on hold since he was diagnosed (at 4) and I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever be happy or if I'll ever be able to have a bit of a life of my own. Sorry if that sounds selfish.

Absinthe9 Wed 08-Jun-16 20:56:38

Yes I think it gets harder as our DC get older. Mine has no idea what he wants to do in life and does not really apply himself. The "friends" he has are all gained through propinquity and are starting to fade away.

The one good thing is that he does have a Saturday job in a charity shop. It's unpaid but the people who run the shop are lovely and very calm and organised. He is rightly very proud of having a job and I am pleased that he is getting out of the house and gaining some work skills. He doesn't do the till as he finds that too stressful and they are fine with that as there is always someone else there too. I am hoping that maybe one day he will graduate to working in a bookshop or something similarly quiet.

adventuremom Sat 30-Jul-16 18:30:53

I wish there was an answer to this question which I ask myself all the time. Why are my 2 DS's not able to make friends, why can't they fit in, it is like a wall named asbergers. They are very high functioning and adults love them but peers, not so much. One is constantly bullied so he has a healthy suspicion of people. The other tries to fit in and it breaks my heart that he is in for a bit then eventually pushed out. Others just don't want him around. What is this thing that blocks them? One is off to uni if hte fall and I am afraid if he does not fit in, it will devastate him. Where is his tribe? Where is the aspi tribe?

Eliza22 Sun 25-Sep-16 21:16:44

Hi, what's happening for you and your son now?

I'm in the same position. My son is 15. Has Aspergers and OCD. Has no friends. Tries...but kids can be unkind and he IS so different. Every day, it is heartbreaking. He's very aware that he's different and he tries to fit in so hard but sadly just can't. His self esteem is so, so low.

We talk about it and I tell him I don't know what to do, how to help. It was easy when he was younger. I just always invited kids over (even though he never went to "theirs"). Now, I can't do that.

TheSecondOfHerName Sun 25-Sep-16 21:30:10

DS2 (14) had no real proper 'friendships' until three months ago. Most kids were kind to him at school but no one would ever include him in plans to meet up out of school. Dungeons & Dragons changed all that.

He now hangs out with friends after school (playing D&D) and they met up several times over the summer holidays. They're even discussing the possibility of a sleepover. They also message each other on Skype chat (to discuss D&D).

I hope your son is able to find a common interest with some like-minded peers. Collaborative board games, Magic: The Gathering, programming / coding, all of these hobbies and others can be quite inclusive to the neurodiverse.

cazzer2362 Mon 17-Oct-16 10:21:23

I was interested to read the previous posts about peer exclusion, teen friendship groups - the challenges and they resonated with my D's current challenges. D is in yr 8 at a co-ed school and has been struggling with making friends/ fitting in since yr 7. He is very studious and academic (is on the aspergers spectrum) and now recognises that when the others were bonding in the playground setting up their friendship groups, he went to the library to study and keep on top of the work. As a result, he is finding it virtually impossible to break into the existing groups and to an extent they appear to be deliberately excluding him. He has also had some challenges with bullies which the school did not deal with very well. I ended up going into the playground to identify the bullies myself so the school could take action! That aside, things have degenerated and he is being excluded by his peers at every opportunity (outside of the classroom) To make matters worse, children are touching his hair and making songs with his name - we are west African. The school have said that they have taken action to stop this but it still continues. Whilst I recognise that D is not your average 12 yr old boy, doesn't like football or rugby, not particularly interested in social media except Minecraft, is very direct and can be a bit intolerant at times, he is a bright, fun loving, articulate soul who is yearning to have friends at school. I have engaged a therapist to assist but wondered whether any one has any advice to share. I am at my wits end and am considering moving him as the situation is affecting his well being - he has stomach aches before school every morning.

Many thanks in advance.

ASISAYNOTASIDO Fri 04-Nov-16 01:51:00

Similar issues here with DS15. He is actually an easy going kid in many ways and isn't difficult to deal with - best word is quirky. He knows he doesn't fit in with peers well and it hurts - like PP said if I don't organise things particularly social things they just don't happen. I know he's not ok being home all the time with me but I'm struggling to find a suitable group activity for him as he is terrible at sport. Going to try archery but am anticipating disaster.

notagiraffe Mon 16-Jan-17 23:06:18

Just reviving this thread as DS2 (140 is really struggling with this at the moment.
adventuremom nailed it for me. What is the wall that stops them being included? Apparently DS is very funny (intentionally so, it's not that his classmates are laughing at him) and you'd think that would lead to friendships. But he says people tolerate him but never want to take it any further. There's some invisible barrier for them, and he doesn't know what it is. I wish I knew too.
It really doesn't help, does it AsISAY when they are terrible at sport. He so wants not to be, but he is, and he can't get past that.
And it isn't as simple as getting aspie DC together. Like any other DC, they don't necessarily have anything in common with each other. DS desperately wants to meet people who like the same music as him. No one does. His taste is quirky.
If this thread doesn't revive I might start another, to see if we can pool tips on how to handle it.

leggydisplay Wed 01-Feb-17 19:05:56

Similar issue brewing here and ds is only 11. It's so hard to see it playing out and tbh I struggle to listen to it from him sometimes without getting upset and frustrated.

Today, for example, he told another child in his year how he finds all year 7 children annoying. He reacts angrily when teased. I can't get him to understand that if he stayed calm they'd soon get bored of it.

Trying2bgd Sun 05-Feb-17 19:10:44

Are there any online groups for teens with SN where they can support each and just chat about life in a moderated environment? I have a DD with dyslexia and I know she would love to talk to others her age who understand what its like to be different.

SallyMcgally Mon 20-Feb-17 01:51:23

May I join in? Am wondering if DS (15) has Aspergers. He has a diagnosis of dyspraxia and Ehlers danlos syndrome, both of which entail social anxiety, so we have always put social difficulties down to that, and to the fact that he was desperately badly bullied at school. he's now home-edded and so, so lonely. He goes to a drama group, and thinks they all have him. I don't know if they do, or if that's just the truth of how it feels to him. I so wish there were a way of co-ordinating social groups for quirky teens.

Boringoldmum Sat 29-Jul-17 22:15:46

Can I attempt to revive this thread again? In same situation with ds,17, and it is such a support to know others are experiencing the same. No friends,but desperately wants them.Never bothered him when younger but it does now and he feels so excluded.Knows he needs to get a job in the future but as someone else said ,in a passive way. Clueless and not at all proactive with basic stuff like banking,appointments etc I have to steer everything for him.

He has Aspergers and OCD and anxiety sad

blimppy Mon 31-Jul-17 14:10:43

Hi, I'll join in with this too please. I have a 17 year old DD with Social Anxiety and a fairly recent ASD diagnosis. Has always struggled with friends and is now hitting the age at which most of the few sort-of friends she has had are moving away to university (she dropped out of A levels and is now working locally). She basically has one friend left, but is now having to leave the activity which they shared as she is turning 18 soon and will be too old for it. She really struggles socially, but would like more friends. Colleagues at work aren't looking a likely source of friends - she gets on okay with most in work, but finds them hard to connect with. She is quite immature socially and says she doesn't really understand them. As others have found previously, I am unable to find any Aspie suited/focussed groups for late teens - they are all aimed at children or adults. Also, like Boringoldmum says, I also have to actively manage the basics of her life - from getting her up in the morning, to making any appointments and handling any banking matters etc. I've no answers and feel really sad that my lovely kind, sweet girls seems destined to be lonely.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 31-Jul-17 15:52:11

My heart goes out to you all.

Would like to add my piece if that is ok.

My son is 18 and is planning to go into Higher Ed at a college in another location after his BTEC course (which was also shite on so many levels on top of the bullying which caused a lot of emotional harm: I had to move him off his original course because of said bullying and forced the college to put him on a higher level course). Anyway they moved him and he stuck it out and came away with Distinctions so am very proud of him. Both the college and County let my DS down very badly and I am only glad that painful period of our lives is at an end.

I thought the younger years were difficult on occasion but this is hard in other ways. His loneliness kicks in on occasion due to being socially isolated (now has me alone for company during the day) and like many of you he has seen their long term peers melt away. I am hoping that this is a temporary state of flux and if he goes to work or HE then he will find some like minded people to converse with.

I do not necessarily blame his peers and have heard similar happening to his NT friends; from the age of around 16 onwards they all seem to separate out and go off in different directions. He was not able enough to go into the sixth form so went to college instead which also caused a lack of daily contact with his peers (who were in the main friends with him). Not being readily able to read the many unwritten social cues has not helped his cause either.

He faces a job interview tomorrow and personally I would like him to go into the world of work going forward.

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