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My gf's friend wants me to meet her autistic child... is it a good idea?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Lennie, Jun 14, 2021.

  1. Lennie

    Lennie New Member

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    I only got my diagnostic last summer, so the people around me haven't known that I'm autistic for very long. My girlfriend knew I had huge struggles with certain things but we didn't really have a name for it until recently, although the rest of the family doesn't really know since I've always been such a private person. I'm actually a bit angry that no one during my childhood years thought to sound the alarm that I needed help. But anyway.

    She talked about me to one of her childhood friends who has a 9 year old son who also has high functioning autism.

    His life story so far appears to be exactly the same as mine when I was his age. He's having a lot of problems in school with not only bullying from other kids but also teachers who don't like him and complain that he asks weird questions in class and appears to act out to seek attention. He's been to many different schools (several school changes a year) and every time the same problems happen again. He's traumatized by his experiences and is terrified of school and doesn't trust adults because he feels like they betray him they don't understand him. And despite all his struggles and bullying and skipping school and switching schools, he still gets very good grades because his intelligence saves him kind of like a lifebelt.

    My experience was exactly the same. Even the way the teachers complain about him was the same way they complained about me. What she described about her son's behavior at home is also the same as me - he's obsessed with mythology and other specific topics and wants to know everything.

    It seems the only real difference between us is that I was diagnosed at 36 while he was diagnosed as a young child. But he hates being told that he's different or that he's sick. And another problem is that they're struggling with finding resources for him since with high functioning autism he's not considered a priority in the system. His speech development is normal, he doesn't have a learning disability, etc.

    The thing is that I'm torn. My own experience in school was a nightmare, and I still feel the trauma today all these years later. I know this boy is suffering a lot. And he's 9, for me 9 was absolutely a horrible time in school.

    But I'm afraid that I could make things worse by trying to help.

    From what I understand he never met an autistic adult. I have no idea what to expect if we do go ahead with this. What am I going to say? Things for me were horrible at his age, but the struggles didn't get better and continued through high school and, to a lesser degree, college. I don't want to discourage him by saying that the struggles will continue.

    Perhaps it might be good for him to meet an adult who understands him and has been through the same hardships, but I'm a bit scared. I'm not sure what to say, and the last thing I want to do is make things worse by saying something that could discourage him or make him sad. To me it almost feel like I'd be meeting a younger version of myself and I'm heartbroken because I remember those times so vividly and how much I suffered, and I feel really sad that someone is going through that same thing at this very moment.

    What do you guys think? Should we go ahead with this and try to meet? If so, do you have any advice?

    Thank you so much and sorry again for the super long post
     
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  2. BrokenBoy

    BrokenBoy 戯言使い(Nonsense User)

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    In my opinion single parents should only date other single parents.
     
  3. Lennie

    Lennie New Member

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    Oh no I'm not dating a single parent... I think I might have worded it wrongly. I'm talking about the son of my girlfriend's friend. My girlfriend and I don't have children of our own yet
     
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  4. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a tough spot to be in, Lennie. It makes me think of two possibilities.

    1) You might consider telling your girlfriend how you really feel about this, relative to such an encounter potentially becoming a trigger event over your past traumas at that age. In essence, she may be asking too much of you.

    She may prove to be more receptive in terms of you explaining this to her- that it comes from your heart. Plus it's not her child in this instance. It may amount to her inadvertently putting you on the spot. -Not fair.

    2) Conversely you may be "auditioning" in a way. Something I was aware of in being in a relationship with a divorced woman with a child. That inevitably you are being sized-up as a potential father. I was apprehensive about this situation, but came through with flying colors as I surprisingly managed to bond with her NT daughter.

    For me, dealing with kids was always easier than dealing with adults. Less if any hidden agendas to be aware of that most adults harbor in some fashion. Far less social anxiety and stress to consider. For many single guys for better or worse, it's a consideration that you're apt to have to deal with given so many divorced women with children are single again.
     
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  5. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Single parent falls in love with another single parent. Based on a true story. :eek:

     
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  6. Kevin1968

    Kevin1968 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    There may be some comfort for him to know that he isn't the only one to have those experiences and that things will improve.

    Perhaps meet with the mother first?
     
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  7. RenameMePlease

    RenameMePlease Drinking Coffee

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    It sounds like a difficult decision. I think the decision shouldn't just be your decision, but also your girlfriend's friend's son's decision, too. If he really doesn't want to talk to you, then there's no point in forcing it. If he does want to talk, I do think that sharing your experiences might help the boy to know that he's not alone in his struggles, despite being made to feel like he's different. I know that I would have liked to talk to an adult who went through similar struggles when I was a kid.

    It's really hard to give advice online when I don't know you personally, but I can understand your hesitation to meet the boy and the fear of making things worse. Maybe try finding out what specifically his mythology special interests involve so that you can have a common ground if you do decide to meet each other. You don't have to help the kid solve his problems all at once the first time you meet him. Just be a friend/mentor that the boy can share thoughts and feelings with.

    It's ultimately up to you (if the boy agrees to meet) to decide what you'd like to do, but maybe think of some of the possible good things that could come out of meeting this boy instead of the bad. Maybe you'll make things better, not worse.
     
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  8. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Poor child. The school system is really failing him. Can't believe the staff are so ignorant, old fashioned and unable to do their job of supporting him effectively. That's a disgrace.

    Having been through this, what's your opinion of what could have been done differently in order to prevent the harm you suffered? Can she home school him, if that's a better option? What's your opinion?

    You can only give your ideas to the parent and see if they can use them, the parent is the one you need to tell about how things didn't get better. The child, just make a link with and be kind to, surely? Mythology is a super interest, just let him talk perhaps.
     
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  9. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I think it is a very valid concern. I would be hesitant too, even though I have met autistic children/young people before. The difference for me though was they were family (it runs on both mine and my wife's sides) and that was a normal part of family life. With a stranger's child however the thing seems different. Like you said: What are their expectations? We are not trained specialists. What if something negative comes out of it?

    That said, meeting an adult with something in common can be helpful. But usually the adult already has and knows some positive guidence to give. Like a child who wants to be a pilot speaking with one for some insight on what it is like. I think the same principle may be applied to Autism, but if I was the adult, I would want to already have worked out some sort of list of questions and a postive and encouraging message - though the conversation may go in different directions. And I would think the adult should have had a track history of overcoming the obstacles. I don't think having a child talking to someone totally in the dumps emotionally with only bad experiences to share or wanting to kill themselves, etc, etc would be a good idea. I don't think it would be bad to share bad experiences, in fact that would probably be a useful part, but only if you then had information on how you overcame them, or how you adapted to live with them.

    Perhaps one starting point would be to talk to the parent on the phone and talk about it. Be prepared to listen a lot because they may talk a lot. Parents often have much to unload. Also you can get more backround and more to work with on framing ideas on what to talk about - in case you think it worth a shot and qualified/up to the task. Talk about your own concerns and worrys (about talking with the boy) with the parent. Their response may be your red light/green light on whether to do it or not. In the big picture it is a thoughtful/kind thing to try.
     
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  10. Gerald Wilgus

    Gerald Wilgus Well-Known Member

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    At that age, I could have probably been helped by adult coaching, but recognize that is a lot of hard work. The other thing I see here perhaps, is the mother learning how to be an advocate for her child. Especially needed if there are issues that prevent him from thriving in school . . . and education is frequently more than academics alone.
     
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  11. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    I think you should do no more than interact with this child. He probably would enjoy an adult friend! Do not try to be a special education consultant. Do not lecture him about autism. Do not lecture the mother (your girlfriend's friend).

    I don't think you need to be afraid of the encounter, as long as you limit it the way I have described. Can you do that, though?
     
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  12. EuclidWasRight

    EuclidWasRight New Member

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    I think it's a great idea for you to meet them. You don't have to say anything in particular, and you don't have to make a commitment. It may be upsetting for you, but it may also be fun. You don't have to "trauma bond". When you see him, you'll be aware that he's a different person than you are. I'm saying this based on my experience tutoring. I really liked being able to help a kid that no one else would take the time with, and wasn't allowed to be themselves. I didn't care if the kids wanted to stand up and work, or only wanted to write about video games, or couldn't hack it and started crying. They just needed someone not to judge them, and once they realized I was ok with them, then they could begin to do their work. Everybody was always telling them they were doing the wrong thing, etc. They just kept getting pounded down, which made them more dis-regulated, their self-esteem plummeted, and it was a circle.

    One boy came in and literally cried the whole hour. Everybody was criticizing him, and trying to force him to do this or that, and to be something he wasn't. I would have cried! He had every right. He was a good kid. I just stopped pressuring him, let him talk about what he wanted to talk about, and he started making progress. All he needed was for people to stop pounding him into a hole that didn't fit. It sounds like your kid just needs someone he can relate to. Even if you only meet once it might help a lot. He's been treated really lousy, with all the school changes. He needs to know that the problem isn't him, it's adults. They are the responsible grown-up ones who are supposed to know what to do. Several school changes a year is insane. The adults are supposed to help him, not make him someone else's "problem". I had to be taken out of one class when my teacher started to bully me. It was awful, I can't imagine that happening over and over.

    You don't have to TELL him that it's the adults' fault, or make him feel like a victim. He just needs to feel accepted and "normal". You can tell him about some struggles, because kids are people too. It's easier to face a difficulty when you know it's coming, and you know that you can get through it. Right now he probably feels very alone. Knowing he's not the only one will help. It will probably be good for the parents too, because they can get to know you better, which may help them to understand their child. It's not about explaining everything, but about "normalizing" him to them. They might be able to support him better. You can explain things better than he can. They will see that things can be ok.

    Just ask him to tell you about Mythology. If all you do is sit and listen for an hour, you will have made his world better.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
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  13. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Not your problem.
     
  14. Rainbowcat

    Rainbowcat Well-Known Member

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    Hi Lennie,

    Sounds not an easy situation.

    When i was 9 school problems started for me. Sounds a similar situation like i went through. I was bullied by teachers and classmates, changed 3 schools until i finished school. With the only difference that i wasn't good in school, i had learning disabilities. So that made my life unberable.


    If i had an adult to care about me and tell me that things will get better and my life won't be forever a living hell, that would have helped me. I tried to kill my self when i was 10, i did not know how to stop the bullying i got or my angry parents. I felt completely alone.

    I would say may be if you talk to the parent first and then the kid and tell him/her that things won't be forever like that, it would encourage him/her and give strength to continue his life.

    Furthermore, his/her parents need to take him/her to a kids psychologist and monitor his/her health. That kid is under tremendous stress. He/she could crack at any moment given, a specialist needs to be beside him/her.

    Your role ends there, you can't and shouldn't do more, you are not his/her parent.

    Moreover, if this is too much for you , don't get involved. Your mental health comes first. You can speak only to the parent for example,but if that can bring you stress, do not do it.

    I hope i helped.

    Best of luck. :)
     
  15. Lennie

    Lennie New Member

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    Oh wow thank you so much for the responses and comments everyone! You all bring interesting points

    One of the things that worries me the most is that the child has trust issues when it comes to adults. He feels that he trusts then, then gets betrayed. He loved one of his teachers very much but that same teacher then started complaining about him and causing him trouble and it hurt him a lot

    I think what I'm mostly afraid of is that he would get high expectations from me, then end up feeling disappointed and hurt again.

    There's still time to think about this anyway since it probably isn't going to happen before september at the earliest. Perhaps I'm overthinking the whole thing though.
     
  16. Magna

    Magna Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    ^ I agree with this.

    Even though it would be tempting to share your negative experience with the child or tell him that school can really suck and it's quite possible that it will continue to suck for him or even get worse before it gets better (ie no more school after graduation), I think it would be a terrible idea to do so.

    What if you and your girlfriend went over there together and you could see if the boy wanted to play a game or something or bring out things to show the both of you that he's interested in? You (and he) might find that the two of you are on the same unspoken "wavelength". With every fellow autistic person I've met in my life to date (and I've actually met or been around quite a few of them) I've felt an affinity and an ease that I don't feel around most NTs. That's simply a fact for me.
     
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  17. EuclidWasRight

    EuclidWasRight New Member

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    It sounds to me like you are putting too much responsibility on yourself, and that is causing you to over think. He may want to read or play video games by himself the whole time. He may be like, "Who's this old adult looking guy with the Nirvana tee shirt?" (I made that up.) LOL It's ok whatever you decide.
     
  18. Telepath John

    Telepath John Member

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    Hello,

    I think and feel it is a good idea to meet with this 9 year old boy. Your experiences dealing with life would be valuable to him.

    The school systems around the world are not equipped to deal with those on the autistic spectrum. They are ignorant. One of the issues with ignorance of this kind is that do not know they are ignorant. They are confused when they encounter some one who thinks differently. They keep trying to make the gifted kids as mentally crippled as they are.

    Bullies are insecure. That is why they need to pick on those who are different than them. My son became a level 2 black belt so he could be comfortable, and feel physically safe, dealing with the bullies in our society.

    Human evolution requires changes to what has been so that some thing better can come into being. The autistic child is a true blessing who goes unrecognized. If you can appreciate you are a blessing then you can also encourage this 9 year old to see himself in the same way.

    John
     
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