Hi all! I need help! My son is 11 and is very awkward socially. He has no friends but seems to think he does. He is borderline Asperger's but has not got a definitly diagnosis. All we have for sure is a social phobia. He is VERY immature. He still plays with toys and some of the things he enjoys are for much younger children. I know he is not getting bullied. I would say he is just "isolated." What sort of things do normal 11 year old children enjoy. I want to try to get him into different things so that he may have more in common with his friends. Since this is middle school, I know children can be very cruel. I am so worried about him getting bullied. Thanks in advance for any advice.
I'm trying to think back when my boys were that age. I know video games were probably one of their biggest activities. Also, this is about the time when they were really interested in paint ball guns, riding those little bicycles that kids ramp and do tricks with-can't think of what they're called! Also, they had electric and acoustic guitars, and were interested in music. They took guitar lessons. Those were the main things that they did in those days! I'm glad that your son is not being bullied. Middle school is an awful time for that kind of thing.
I'm not sure what 11 year olds play with normally, but my 8 yr old son has Asperger's. I would urge you to call your nearest children's hospital to have him diagnosed if it is indeed Asperger's. My son attends a social skills group once a week which has helped him a lot. In addition, he now has an IEP and he gets help here at school.
That said, my son is still different than his peers. I do try to get him involved, but it really has to be his interest or my intentions fail miserably! Right now, he attends his social skills group, a ceramics class, and Sunday school. He'll be taking swimming classes soon since that is one of his interests. We tried soccer and baseball. He wasn't interested and it was a horrible experience for us all...
Could you invite any friends or neighbors over for a playdate? This has worked well with my son...then he has something in common with someone and they have a little bond going...Just a thought.
Good luck. I worry about my son all the time and worry about how he'll be in middle school. Do you have any teacher friends who work in his building or could advise you?
He sees a psychiatrist and they say that he is too high functioning for a true Asperger's diagnosis. Asperger's seems to be the closest they can come up with. ??? His only issue is social. I know that he gets on some of the kids nerves and I just wanted to try to help him before he starts getting picked on. He doesn't pick up on social cues so he has no idea is someone is making a face at him, etc. He is very happy go lucky and loves school. He's perfectly happy being isolated (but I'm not).
Contact your district's special education department. Don't accept the psychiatrist's assertion that he won't qualify for a "true" diagnosis. Get your district to observe your son in class, if necessary.
At the very least, the SpEd department may be able to recommend a social skills class offered in your community.
While I see that you are very concerned about your son, I think your trying to get him involved in "popular" activities might backfire. He knows what he likes and may be better off selecting his own interests.
I wish I could offer something more constructive. My son is only 4, but he also struggles with social skills and reading social cues. He is enrolled in our district's special preschool and is making good progress. But I do worry about his future (and DH is utterly paranoid about it).
DS is 8 and we tried all sorts of sports before finding one that worked for him. I also signed him up for an art class (cartooning) and he loves that!
I think sitting down with him and asking him what kinds of things he likes would be best. Then look in your community (ask the teachers, at the library reference desk, at the YMCA etc) about the classes they offer.
I have a child in my class this year (age 7) that sounds a lot like your son. I suggested to mom that she have him tested for Asperger's. She hasn't done it yet, but hopefully she will. He has no social skills whatsoever. I feel really bad for him. I'm not sure how to "teach" him social skills. Right now the other kids are pretty good with him. I worry about how it will be for him when he gets older. Someone else mentioned a social skills group and I think that would be a really good idea. I will have to look into that so I can tell his mom (thanks patch41). I don't really have any advice, just wanted you to know that I understand how you are feeling .
I think that you would be suprised to find the number of 11 year olds who still play with some type of toys. My own 11 year old loves Legos and other building type toys. I would sit down with him and discuss his interests -- maybe you'll see a developing theme. Then, try to find programs that piggyback those interests with new activities. Maybe he can make friends in the new group. If you try to push him into things in which he no interest, then you are surely asking for failure. Ask him who he considers to be his best friend. Perhaps you could talk to the child's mother and your son's teacher to see how the 2 interact. Maybe then set up a short, structured playdate. If that goes well, then proceed from there.
When you get right down to, kids will do what they like and with whom they like, no matter what others think. I like to think of those kids as independent spirits == the ones who make us look at what we think is the norm and question its true worth. My own son is like that -- he delights in being super smart, playing a musical instrument, and walking to the beat of his own drummer. I thoroughly enjoy it!
I read your second response about your son going to a psychiatrist... I'm not sure what he means by he is too "high functioning" to get an Asperger's diagnosis. My son is also at the high functioning end of the spectrum-- but he is still on the spectrum. He is high functioning in that he does extremely well academically in school (many aspies do...his IQ is in the gifted range) and is able to go to school without an aide. In fact, until you got to know him pretty well, I am sure you wouldn't even notice that he is that different from the other kids in his class.
If I were you, I would seek another opinion. My son's pediatricians assured me over and over again that nothing at all was wrong...but after calling the behavioral unit at our children's hospital, they made the diagnosis. They gathered a lot of information from me, his teachers, etc...and spent time observing him.
I'm just telling you this because the diagnosis has really helped us out a lot...there's a lot that can be done with an IEP and his social skills groups have helped him. Your description of your son sounds just like my son.
Sometimes I think there is no "normal" for kids around that age. My students are in the 11-13 range, and they are all over the board in terms of interest. Some are like grown men, and others would make good third graders.
Keep trying different things until he finds something he enjoys. Eventually something may "click".
My husband is "probable Aspergers". He lacks in social skills and is immature in some areas. I can count the things he likes on one hand . . . football, hunting, playing guitar. His parents tried ALL kinds of things before they found anything that he enjoyed.
I have a 12 year old son on the spectrum with Asperger's also. I follow his lead on what he is interested in. Sports do not work for us (we have tried!) My son is now playing drums in the middle school band (he loves it ) takes guitar lessons, and loves his XBox360. The videogames have actually helped him interact with others because all the boys this age seem to be into them and it gives my son a topic to converse about. He does have one friend who is really outgoing and has accepted my son. This has really helped my son at school because they are in all of the same classes. I understand how you are feeling. My son does not care if he is "isolated' either but I worry about it all the time!
Thank you all so much for the input. We have tried all sports also and none worked. He has recently started playing drums in the band and loves it. He loves his video games also. I like the idea of guitar lessons. We may try that also. I know he has some things in common with the other boys his age. What drives me nuts is he won't talk about video games or hunting or other things that they could relate to. He chooses the off the wall stuff to talk about at school that isolates him even more. It gets so frustrating sometimes.
My son has Asperger's also and we worry about him constantly. He's perfectly happy with the way his life is. We've learned to just accept him the way he is and quit pushing. He's happy so I guess we are worrying too much.