Autism, Teenagers, and Socialization

Socializing is a minefield for all teens, but when you have a teen that doesn’t read non-verbal cues, has a slightly quirky sense of humour, doesn’t see silence as something needing to be filled, and is quite literal…. well it’s even harder.

But with all the conversations in our house about how to fit in, something interesting has been happening. Lou now comes home from school and plonks herself down near me and recounts her day. It’s different from when the other two kids do it. They just tell me all the news and gossip and don’t require much response. Lou’s recount is never what she did, but instead is a line by line recall of all the conversations that took place that didn’t have glaringly obvious purposes or meanings, or that she wasn’t sure how to respond to, and we informally analyze them.

She measures my reactions to things that were said to see how her responses compared, I suggest possible reasons for people acting out of character, we discuss what she might say or do in a similar situation next time it happens.

It’s become a really important part of our day, this discussion of the day’s conversations but one I’m really glad I have the time for. For her, being able to reassure herself that she’s said the right things, or to get suggestions for handling situations better next time is gold. And to be able to discuss why other people do things helps her to not only figure out how to respond but also to put herself in other people’s shoes – something that has never been easy for her.

Along the way she’s realised something – she might be a little odd to other people, but generally, they are all just as screwed up in their own way. Many of her peers have broken homes, subject to abuse, are drinking or using drugs, sexually promiscuous, self-harming, have body issues, depression, struggles with school, overpressured, lonely or are just plain insecure…

And the only difference between them and her is that she has a therapist’s report that tells her exactly why she struggles while most of them don’t have a clue.

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0 thoughts on “Autism, Teenagers, and Socialization

  • June 29, 2010 at 12:04 pm
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    Very important post. As the rates of autism rise we are all going to have to learn how to deal with autisitic people every day.

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  • June 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm
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    One of my friends from church has two brothers, one is very autistic (sorry, I don’t know the correct term, I just know his autism is worse than most) and the other is in a wheelchair. They are both truly amazing kids and they really are an inspiration to me. It makes me so angry when people do not accept people with disabilities. When I first met these kids, to be honest, I was a little nervous; I didn’t know what to say, or how to act, but I sucked it up and just talked to them. That was when I realized how truly amazing these boys were, and I am blessed to know them.

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  • June 27, 2010 at 7:54 pm
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    I’m not autistic.  I had a disability growing up that was obviously the byproduct of abuse.  Get my little bleeding violin out.  See, they used that to cause it to pour into all aspects of my life and justify everything that’s just ridiculous. 

    I’m well aware of everything that goes on, and I was hyperaware growing up, which made everything even more fun.  I would pull her out of school.  Yes, you should let them win because she’ll never be normal.  I’m not trying to be mean.  I’m a veteran of the system.  Those problems that you speak of are normal problems that average people have.  Your daughter has problems that they can’t idenify with, that nobody ever will, but she’ll continue on a downhill trend of being dependent on others and not trusting herself.  We live on the fringes of society anyway later, especially during the “proving years” when people are settling into life and themselves and trying to get “somewhere.”  She’s just slow and doesn’t understand, they’ll claim, especially people who violate her. They try that shit on me, and I’ll explain it, but it doesn’t matter.  I’d keep her used to loneliness, comfortable with it and have her interact with either old people or others such as herself, but you know that can be dangerous because your child isn’t disturbed and a lot of them are.  I had a friend growing up whose sister was disabled and she was in there with the trash whores like myself who get put in there for whatever ridiculous reason.  This girl, the special one, was a sweet girl who is obviously going to work at a grocery store or something for her whole life.  She was clean and well mannered but slow, like really slow, a good person who could function in society, and she was quite pretty as well.  And we’ll destroy each other, along with all the angels who can get away with harming her.  We’re at war, even later because “karma’s a bitch” and it was me who is the cause of civilization’s fall, and it was really me who wronged them…  you’re feeling guilty and I’m well-aware, but you don’t look ashamed and baby I’m not scared.  I’m the one they try to fuck all the time, especially growing up because I don’t “get it.”   Oh, but I did.  Luckily, because nobody cared about me.

    I’m going to night school with adults, but my school experience growing up was a nightmare, and I didn’t even look different, and I’d say that learning can be done at home or any age in any setting.  She isn’t getting what she deserves there and the experience will mess her up later because the people who harmed her “deserved” to harm her as they will continue to with no consequences, and they’ll use her, the parents just as bad and their children destined for average lives regardless of what they believe.  If she’s never going to have a normal life, why prepare her for one?  She’s special, gets a special outlook and protecting wisdom to guide her through this journey called life.  You can’t protect her forever, they’ll claim.  Well, you’re probably relative in age, and she’ll always have a family, a connect to support, so you can protect her forever.  If they never know her, they can’t come for her later. 

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  • June 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm
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    I’m a high-functioning autistic. I’ve never had good judgment about what to say and what I should keep to myself. I tend to say everything I think, regardless of what other people think of it.

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  • June 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm
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    What’s funny, is that I started doing this in my late teens/early 20s with John… I still do it now that we’re married. He explains stuff that I just don’t get or how to respond better. In the 13+ years we’ve known each other (nearly 12 of them married) I’ve learned so much about being more socially involved than I ever did with my parents. Not because I couldn’t talk to my mom… I did all the time, but she would always get upset and want to “protect” me from stuff people said/did… She wasn’t one much for letting me fight my own battles. John is like that too, but at the same time, he will also tell me, “You need to stand up for yourself.” when I get “picked on”… which also doesn’t happen nearly as much as it did in highschool.

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  • June 23, 2010 at 2:21 am
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    Well written and very cool that she is coming home and recounting her day to you, and that you really listen to her.  Giving her your time is the biggest blessing you can ever give to her.

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  • June 23, 2010 at 1:57 am
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    People need to accept autism and autistic people, and one way of accepting them is by socialising with them. Teenagers tend to socialise more than others from a different age group.

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