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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:39 pm 
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Both professionally and personally I am involved with a lot of teens with Aspergers Syndrome and have witnessed the social distress it can cause for them.

I spend a lot of time thinking of how to best support these young people and particularly the girls, who often are undiagnosed for years and are just seen as the ' weird girls' who don't fit in, or the super geeks.....

Has anyone any stories to share or observations to make re teens with AS, especially girls?

Dear mods - didn't mean this to go in University but in everything else but can't work out how to change it! Can you help please?! :D

(moved as requested. :))


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:23 pm 
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No one?! :shock:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:04 pm 
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Poor neveragain*!
I have no recent experience other than the fact that I was at school with a girl who, with hindsight, clearly was somewhere on the autistic spectrum. She also had a slightly unusual upbringing, and frankly, in the uninformed 1970s was seen as odd, and had no friends. I feel very sad for her, she had no support or help at school. I met her again recently, and she hasn't changed. She is an engineer and is very successful in her career and is married with children. I always hope the way everyone treated her is behind her now, but I suspect she is still seen as odd - brilliant, but odd.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:11 pm 
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I think maybe if people had experience of this they might find it a bit too personal to post it on a forum such as this? Just a thought, kindly meant. :D

Just even browsing the pastoral section there are plenty of cases of girls not fitting in, and my anecdotal evidence is that it is far harder to be a slightly geeky girl now than it was when we were young. I can think of whole groups of what were then called 'swots' at my school, but now there seems to be a cloned stereotype of what girls are supposed to look and act like and anyone outside that very narrow range is branded a geek or a loser. I wonder if the numbers labelled as having a pathology have risen with the increased tendency to conform to a highly defined and very widely disseminated stereotype.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:54 pm 
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Quote:
I wonder if the numbers labelled as having a pathology have risen with the increased tendency to conform to a highly defined and very widely disseminated stereotype.


Absolutely...I was out on Saturday night, and having a very long chat with three others about this. Has our level of acceptance been narrowed so much that we can no longer just have someone in our gang who is a "bit of an odd ball", thinks and acts a little differently? These girls, and boys were always around, sometimes bullied, sometimes worshipped (we had a girl who completed all our maths homework for fun) sometimes very sadly ignored by teachers and peers. The shame is that we should be able to help without exclusion or medical labelling, just the knowledge that some people are different.

I have worked closely part time with children and adults on various levels of the autistic spectrum, and sometimes I just want to shout at the parents and carers of the lower end kids...They are normal, stop fussing and help people around them discover what normal is and help them interact in a socially savvy way, even if they do not understand why. Next time they walk off in he middle of a chat don't shrug and say "that is how they are, because they have been diagnosed" call them back and tell them they were rude!

A chap I was talking to once but did not know, started telling me how he thought one of my husband's relatives was an oddball from memories of school days. (This relative has clear as your nose undiagnosed as) I explained that I thought it was pretty odd to talk to a stranger and within moments make personal comments about her in laws, and perhaps he should consider how others reflect upon his own character!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:58 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
I was hoping you would get more of a response neveragain, as I would have been interested to hear what they say. I don't think it is any different from talking about any other characteristic of a child. DS3 has Aspergers but is still in primary school and I often wonder how it will affect him in the future. I find that he is a 'little on the outside' in relation to his class but thankfully he has a friend who is very shy and finds DS's incessant talking right in his face irrespective of appropriateness very entertaining.

The class seem to find him quirky and have accepted that this is just him - I think it helps that he is dashingly handsome so the girls,and teachers, often have a soft spot for him. But he has had the trouble with a particular boy (a friend) who can be a little mean and bossy - he has found this quite stressful at times. The boy told him at the end of year 2 after a little fallout that he couldn't wait for the sumner hols as he wouldn't have to see him. He talked about it everyday for the entire summer :? . I find I have to talk through other people's intentions and motives with him a lot more now. He needs so much more support when there is anything new in his routine I don't know how he would cope as he gets older.

There are some things that need a little more understanding from those around him but there are other things where he needs to be dealt with lot more firmly as he has to learn the social skills needed to get on in life. I expect he will always be quirky and have a narrow focus in life and I wouldn't have him any differently - there is an honesty and open heart with him that others don't have, but hopefully he will learn to make and keep a few friends along the way.

If not, I will have have to hope his good looks carry him through the horror that is secondary school......

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:07 pm 
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[quote="Amber"]I think maybe if people had experience of this they might find it a bit too personal to post it on a forum such as this? Just a thought, kindly meant. :

It is interesting isn't it how this issue, maybe as concerned with mental health, seems somehow more personal than discussing any other issue regarding our children. I'm with Umsusu on this one, it shouldn't be more or less personal than what level they are at, or how disorganised they are, or issues with bullying ( which are rife on this forum sadly), but somehow it seems that it is still taboo.

I agree that society, with all its desire for conformity, and the evils of the media, has perhaps made it harder to be ' different' but I also remember many kids who were unusual at school and had a hellish time.

One of the good things about diagnosis ( especially for adolescents) is that it helps to make sense of an experience and allow them to see both the very real gifts, as well as the challenges that such a label brings.

Secondary school is tough for children on the spectrum - wide and varied though it is. But in our desire to not label - are we perhaps trying to ignore difference and smooth it over when frank discussion may be a better option?

The girls I see in my practice, and my own DD, have often suffered terribly through feeling different - whether through Aspergers or just being a bit 'odd'. This post was prompted by a weekend of ' mopping up' my gorgeous, bright, kind, beautiful, funny 18 year old who had once again had a revelation of her ' differentness' and the pain it can cause. I wouldn't swap her for all the neurotypicals in the city, but my heart bleeds for her when I see the raw pain.........I imagine parenting with her will continue to be focussed on keeping her feeling as safe as possible at home, as supported as possible and reminding her of her strengths at every turn. She is off to Cambridge in Oct so I'm hoping that a) she will meet even more people like her and b) am worried that the work load etc will hugely add to her stress levels......

The irony is, she seems to everyone else to be the ideal girl - attractive, clever, articulate, socially skilled but inside life is hard and confusing for her. Girls on the spectrum don't present in the same ways as boys, and I was interested in some discussion of this. I'm also interested in boys experiences too.....whilst professionally I've worked with children on the spectrum for years, when issues are personal it all feels rather different....... :?

Thank you for those that have replied....useful discussion.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:43 pm 
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I read with interest the posts of others. My entire household is probably on the spectrum. We chose grammar to help DS fit in, knowing he's on the spectrum. DD is generally very good socially but is still seen as different from her peers.

My DC are now at the latter end of their schooling and are more comfortable in their own skins, but it hasn't been easy for either of them.

I fit the mould and, well, as for DH! :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:30 pm 
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Thanks for that moved.

Yes, the experience of girls on the spectrum seems entirely different and often overlooked. I imagine coming from a family where such - ahem - ' individuality ' is more normal makes it easier? Do you think so? My DD is the only one I would say, although as we all know it's all a continuum.......


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:49 am 
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I'm shying away from labels here because I reckon that would be another entire family labelled, and I am not sure being 'different' necessarily makes one a high-functioning Aspbergers candidate does it? I think I have some kind of social phobia in that I hate parties (as in, would hide in a spider infested cupboard and pull my toenails out rather than try to make small talk in a room full of strangers, or worse, semi-strangers) and have some kind of visceral reaction to anything along the 'girls' night out' lines; and yet I reckon most people who know me would think me outgoing, confident and socially pretty competent. I don't do groups larger than 4 on the whole, unless they are professional ones- no issues there. My OH and kids all display this trait to a greater or lesser extent and of course not 'partying' is tantamount to social death these days for teenagers.

My kids haven't enjoyed school or felt they have fitted in either. They've all made friends but there have been dreadful episodes of unhappiness too. I celebrate their individuality and like you neveragain* would not trade them for one of what can look like the cloned masses. But it does make life harder for both them and us as parents and there have been times when I have wanted to shout 'oh just put some make up on!' , or 'why don't you get an Xbox?' But of course I don't really mean it because then my children would be strangers to me and what could be harder than that?

Like you I hope there are enough similar-minded individuals out there to make them good friends and partners who really feel like soul mates. I guess that is the big worry for anyone who feels different- can I ever really be myself and will anyone ever understand me? Though some of the very tragic high-profile suicides among young people recently give me little hope that things are getting easier for any teenagers, let alone those who are struggling to fit into a social media-dominated society which seems to place undue emphasis on conforming to certain norms of behaviour and appearance.

Even at my age I sometimes get very upset by things I don't understand, like intelligent people spending hours watching trashy celebrity TV programmes or drinking themselves stupid or gossiping about the private lives of others. It feels alienating and stressful. I wonder how much worse that feels for people just starting out on this crazy life when much of what you see around you seems to lack meaning.

Sigh. Hammering with rain here, dark and grey. Sums it up I suppose. Sigh again.


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