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How to help DS10? social skills/being bullied

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knightsbff posted 6/2/2014 23:24 PM

I think DS10 may be on the Autism spectrum. His first grade teacher voiced concerns but BH and I wouldn't consider it then. Now I'm afraid we made a mistake. We have an evaluation pending and are hoping to get him into a program to help with social skills.

He is annoying to kids his age. He has a hard time making friends. The kids say he is annoying or weird. He talks like a little professor. His teachers say he is incredibly smart. He comes off as a know it all and a smart ass.

Tonight was his last baseball game. His coach made certificates for each boy recognizing each for some good quality or achievement. When we were walking to our car I asked him if he heard the other kids cheering for him when he got his certificate. He said, "No, but I felt the pain from the fist in my ribs when I sat back down. I almost threw up and couldn't breathe." They lost the game but it wasn't his fault; they lost by several points. He got in a pickle between 1st and 2nd base and got out. He shouldn't have run and he said a bunch of the boys were mad at him. And "Sam", who was sitting behind him, punched him in the ribs for it.

He didn't tell me until we were almost to our car. I think it's because he doesn't want me to say anything. He will be in junior high next year, 6th grade. No one wants to known as the one who told their mommy.

He hated baseball this year. He never wanted to go to games or practice. I didn't understand it because he was playing pretty well. We made him finish the season because we always make them finish what they start. In the car on the way home he told me after one of the first practices half the boys lured him over behind the football things that look like dummies that they push and tackled him and were punching him. He picked up a brick and told them whoever came close was getting hurt then he ran to the car.

I said, "You picked up a brick?!!!" He said, "I wasn't going to hit anyone with it mom, but they didn't know that." That is just scary.

At the next practice they tried to lure him over there again but he stayed close to the coaches. We forced him to keep playing. He said some of the boys were mean to him. I tried to talk to him about how he was interacting with the other boys. I thought things were better. He says he is never playing baseball again.

It hurts to think of my baby being picked on and treated like that. How do I help him to deal with this sort of thing?

[This message edited by knightsbff at 11:28 PM, June 2nd (Monday)]

Sad in AZ posted 6/2/2014 23:48 PM

I have to swing a bit of a 2x4 at you; I've never understood parents that force their kids to 'finish' something that they hate. What does that teach?? Only that your parents simply don't understand you. Please stop doing that.

What about getting him involved in other activities like a chess club or role playing games? My DS was not sports oriented. He loved chess and playing Star Wars card games. He interacted well with all sorts of people (adults and other kids) in these activities. Once he got into high school, he found a class/club that he loved-DECA. It's like a junior marketing organization. It was a junior year class and a senior year club. He ever ran for and won a vice president position. He got to travel all over the country with it and even stayed involved as an advisor when he graduated high school. He's still very close to his high school advisor.

Help him find something that gives him confidence with peer and adults with whom he feels comfortable. It doesn't have to be something conventional or even something that you like--help him find what's best for him. I hope he can recover from this experience. Poor guy.

knightsbff posted 6/3/2014 00:03 AM

They don't have a lot of clubs at our schools, but I am doing some thinking about our policy of finishing what we start… If I had known what was going on it may have been different, I'm not sure. I really thought he was just sulking because he prefers to spend his time playing video games and watching TV.

He is signed up for band next year and he's excited about it. I want my kids to be involved in something that requires physical activity a few times a week but it doesn't have to be a team sport. I just want them to stay healthy and fit. He loves soccer and is very good at it.

Jrazz posted 6/3/2014 00:14 AM

I don't have a ton of advice as I have yet to cross that bridge with DD4. Just hugs cause this sure isn't easy.


Sad in AZ posted 6/3/2014 01:45 AM

The role playing card games were not a school activity; they were sponsored by the shops that sold the cards. The games were usually played on Saturdays at a shopping mall. I went with him (or another parent went) and stayed while they played, usually wondering off to window shop once in a while. It was all above board. It's definitely not my 'cup of tea' but DS really enjoyed it.

The chess club was not a regular school-sponsored event either. It was started & fostered by parents.

DS was in orchestra-he played the string bass. He did this from age 9 until HS graduation.

He was not a team sports player, but played outside--rode his bike, rough-housed with neighborhood kids. He & I did activities too like fossil hunting with a local museum. He like to bowl, belonged to a team and also volunteered his time to coach special needs kids.

There are a lot of things you could help your DS with--some that you could foster yourself. Don't try to pigeon-hole him into standard activities. Let him rise to his own full potential.

Bluebird26 posted 6/3/2014 02:10 AM

My DS is almost 12 and on the spectrum (Asperger's). He loves team sport but it's becoming an issue with his competitiveness and his rigid thinking and lack of social awareness.

Speak to the coach about the punching incident, but please remember there are 3 sides to every story ( 2 people involved and the truth ) Not saying this didn't happen but if he is truly on the spectrum there may have been other factors that he hasn't included in his version of events. Punching is unacceptable though.

My DS can report what someone else does wrong with 100% accuracy but he can't see what he is doing that is wrong in the situation as well due to his lack of social skills. An example of this is when 3 or more people are having a conversation everyone is jumping in with their part of the discussion. DS views this as people interrupting him and they are being rude I try and explain this is how a conversation works. But it's hard. Their brains are wired differently to ours.

DS is extremely intelligent and others find him full on as he talks constantly and about boring stuff too . There are some days I don't want to listen either. Socially this is hard on other kids and between the ages of 9-14 is the most difficult as they can see that these kids are 'different' and are harder to accept. Bullying can be a major issue for kids on the spectrum in this age bracket.

Self esteem might be an issue if he is having problems socially. Maybe a self defence class such as karate which teaches them that you never fight anyone and it's only for protection etc might help. Get into a individual sport, team sports are hard work for kids on the spectrum.

See your doctor for a possible diagnosis so you can then access services that may help. It's not too late to help him. Do some reading about Aspergers/ASD and see if he exhibiting any other symptoms. Keep an open mind though as it's easy to start labelling a child because it gives you the answers you might need.

Feel free to PM.

homewrecked2011 posted 6/3/2014 02:22 AM

I was just going to suggest band. Also, I explained to my sons that no one in band can play an instrument, so they are all on a level playing field. The one who practices the most will be the best, but don't stay on him to practice, let it be fun, if that makes sense. The unstated peer pressure will make him want to work harder, as he sees others progressing......

My son was still teased a bit -- remember it's the same kids in school--- but, those kids have quit band. He's now that band captain next year -- his senior year for the largest band in our state!!!! YAY!

My younger son loved sports,,, but most kids are bigger than he is, so band is working out for him, also.

I also tried to expose them to lots of stuff without putting the focus on them,,, kwim? Like I took them to an ice hockey game but never asked, "did you like it?". That way they didn't feel "all eyes were on them" if that makes sense. We took them on a boat, they had to ride, but didn't have to wakeboard until they were ready.

Also, BMX biking helped my sons with their confidence, too. It's NOT flips, etc, it's riding your bike over hills - racing. One son liked to race, they other like to just practice and we let that be just fine...

Oh yeah,, and we (before XWH took off) limited video games to 1 hour a day. It helped the boys to do other activities.

[This message edited by homewrecked2011 at 2:24 AM, June 3rd (Tuesday)]

StrongerOne posted 6/3/2014 17:17 PM

Geocaching, with you or a like minded kid of his age. Since they will use a smartphone to find the caches, they can take pictures of themselves at the site.

Try a sport that focuses more on competition with oneself, or on the development of skills without the need to win, also sports or physical activities that have a supportive ethic or a supportive club or community. For instance, martial arts or rock climbing, skateboarding, juggling, that sort of thing. Kayaking too.

You can also sign him up for fun half or full day camps for summer that will let him try out activities -- check nearby museums and parks, nature camps, art camps, theater. Ina ve worked with a number of college kids on the spectrum who love and do well at theater -- they don't have to "be themselves," as one kid told me, there's a script, or they can work on the tech aspects such as lighting, sound design, etc. I now gently direct my "spectrum" kids towards theater minor or extracurriculars because it is so rewarding for so many of them.

Middle school -- see if you can meet the counselor in the summer. Also, get a list of clubs and look it over with him to see what he might like.

About the "finish what you started" rule -- I get that, but you might revise it this way: you have to give it a fair trial. If you don't want to continue, you have to be honest me as to why not.

Good luck to your boy. And to you. It's so hard when life is unkind to our littles

StillGoing posted 6/3/2014 19:49 PM

I have to swing a bit of a 2x4 at you; I've never understood parents that force their kids to 'finish' something that they hate. What does that teach?? Only that your parents simply don't understand you. Please stop doing that.

What about getting him involved in other activities like a chess club or role playing games? My DS was not sports oriented. He loved chess and playing Star Wars card games. He interacted well with all sorts of people (adults and other kids) in these activities. Once he got into high school, he found a class/club that he loved-DECA. It's like a junior marketing organization. It was a junior year class and a senior year club. He ever ran for and won a vice president position. He got to travel all over the country with it and even stayed involved as an advisor when he graduated high school. He's still very close to his high school advisor.

Help him find something that gives him confidence with peer and adults with whom he feels comfortable. It doesn't have to be something conventional or even something that you like--help him find what's best for him. I hope he can recover from this experience. Poor guy.

+1 to all this.

If you want him to be involved in something physical, maybe a self defense course would help. Jiu-jitsu, TKD, Muay-thai are all very physical, and each has their own approach to self discipline, but that kind of stuff really helps build self confidence. Not just from feeling like he could defend himself, but staying fit and feeling like you are part of a team for an individual sport can be a really great place for the 'weird' kid.

If he is into gaming then look into local comic shops and hobby stores; tabletop and TCGs are not so big in the neighborhood scene now that high speed internet is a regular home thing, but almost every town of moderate size in the country has a comic shop, and that place is always one focal point of gaming.

They may even have LAN parties. A way to get out of the house to play video games, too.

cmego posted 6/4/2014 06:32 AM

My almost 11DD is on the spectrum and participates in no sports. I make sure she is active with her bike and trampoline in the yard. We do hit the tennis ball around and I'm considering more lessons in tennis. She isn't coordinated enough to really be good at any sport.

But, I do not push her to play sports and do not push any team activity. She just doesn't understand a group mentality. If there is a group activity of any kind, she is off to the side since she is lost.

She is also bullied a little in school and I keep telling her that once she has more autonomy, school will get better. Once she can hang with her friends and choose her classes and likes, the social stuff will get better. I tell her to just ignore the bullies unless it becomes really uncomfortable and (so far) some of the other kids are sticking up for her. We practice avoid/ignore and play with people you DO like and like you back.

Now, my neuro-typical son, I did make him finish playing soccer when he wanted to quit. I knew that once I got him there, he does fine. His social skills are great and he is athletically gifted…the battle is getting him there.

I think it just depends on the kid.

knightsbff posted 6/4/2014 09:15 AM

Thank you so much for the advice AND for the 2x4's. I love that on SI people are willing to tell you what you need to hear even if it might not be what you want to hear. Thanks for the hugs too. I definitely need them because it hurts to see my baby hurt.

I think he would like it if we could find somewhere he could play RPGs. I will look into it but we are VERY rural and our closest mall an hour away does not have those types of shops (that I know of). If anyone has ideas on how to track something like that down, I would love some guidance.

We will sign him up for martial arts if he is interested. I signed him up for crossfit kits but he doesn't seem interested. I will let him try a month and then stop if he wants.

I will try geocaching with him. We can bring some of his friends along too. His friends are all gifted kids with ADHD so they can be a handful.

I'm not sure what TCG is exactly (I googled). But he has some cards he likes to buy and play with with his friends. There is a shop in a city (an hour away) that may have some activities or something. BH used to play D&D when he was a kid. Maybe we could invite kids here to play games a few times a month? It would be easier than driving an hour and not knowing the people there.

Anyone have advice on helping him with social skills? He CAN be annoying even to us sometimes. Constant talking. I mean constant. And there's no telling what he will say next. He is very very sweet but people miss that sometimes because he has no concept of how his words will be interpreted by others so he can be offensive, abrasive, or condescending without intending to be. I mean he can flat out tell someone how much smarter he is than them or how much better he did on testing and not get why they react the way they do.

Sad in AZ posted 6/4/2014 09:26 AM

It would be easier than driving an hour and not knowing the people there.

Anyone have advice on helping him with social skills?

Do you see how these two statements contradict? I know you are trying to protect him, and yes, 10 is still a very tender age, but let him make some of the choices.

We did not live in a rural area, but many of the events in which DS was involved were on the other side of town, which on Saturdays was at least an hour drive each way. The X did help out sometimes, but he is the type that won't do something he's not interested in, and DS's interests and his did not intersect. So I worked full time and drove him to events on Saturdays and Sundays. Their childhood doesn't last forever. And, no, I didn't sacrifice all of my free time for him; I'm pretty good at taking care of myself. It can be done, Mom

Faithful w/Love posted 6/4/2014 11:29 AM

Get him tested for ABA (autism).
Where I work, we are one of the top places for ABA kids. They teach them social skill, how to speak, be involved, ect. We have a few little ones that use to scream through the whole session and now they are clam and parents are noticing a huge difference at home and school and interacting with kids.

I would get him tested and they can recommend you to a therapist in that expertise. It is very worth it.

I am sorry he was bullied, I hate that and it makes me

Also, do you have places where you live that are called "gaming" or something like that where he can be part of a club. or Lego league in the school? I think music or band out be very good for him.

nowiknow23 posted 6/4/2014 11:30 AM

((((DS10)))) Sounds a lot like my DD15 from a social perspective. She continues to struggle socially with people her age, but she does well with younger kids, adults, and animals. I'm sure your son has areas like this where he does well. Encourage and build on those strengths.

When my DD was in elementary, the school gave her some special roles where she acted as a teacher's helper in a classroom with younger kids for an hour or so each day. It was great - she was socially on the same level as the younger kids and they were more accepting of her unique traits. She was able to share her knowledge (she's a smart cookie) and help the kids who were struggling. Since she was older, they accepted her help without feeling like she was a know it all.

DD is in high school now. I'm looking into resources for social skill building, but I'm finding there are fewer options in her age bracket. In the fall, she'll be attending an educational resource center for part of her school day. It's a new program in our school district that provides many different supports, including life skills, social skills, individual therapies, etc. onsite. I'm very excited about it.

In the mean time, I'm working with the local animal shelter to set her up as a volunteer. It's great because she's going to gain some practical job-like experience, be around animals for hours (they have a very calming effect on her), and she'll be working with other volunteers, so she'll have some social interactions.

Don't know if any of this helps. I'll keep your DS in my thoughts.

tushnurse posted 6/4/2014 14:51 PM


I have a 17yo son who was a horrible baby, and toddler that was speech delayed, and had extreme reactions to changes in routine.

In Kg struggled with sitting still and being quiet, and not getting upset when the routine went out of the norm.

He has ADHD for sure. I believe he has mild Asperger's. We had EAP for him in elementary school because he had the speech delay. This helped and got him out of the classroom when he knew he was going to blow.

The thing is he is super brilliant, like a level I can't even fathom. He had trouble fitting in in elementary school, and even in middle school. But he had a few core friends that he is still good friends with. Plus he found his passion and his place in the world with band in middle school, and now high school. He also loves robotics, and has been very active in that since 7th grade.

Again he doesn't fit in the " popular or in" crowd. But he is happy. We gave up on team sports pretty early on too. It wasn't his thing, and opened him up for being picked on.
The approach we took with the not fitting in thing was letting him know he was different, and that wasn't bad, and letting him research read about other people who didn't fit in like Einstein, Dave Matthews, and many others. He doesn't even care anymore when people say mean things. He just laughs, and says some smartass thing to his friends like yah, wonder if he will feel that way when I'm driving a fancy car, and he is just digging ditches.

Point is he gets it. It's about that other persons lack of confidence and comfort with people being smart/different. That's their cross to bear not his.

metamorphisis posted 6/4/2014 15:18 PM

Knights, I also have a 10 year old son who is having issues with boys at school. They are his crowd, but he's not a fighter and 3 of them are and well I am sure you can guess how that goes. From my observations at the bus stops, my brothers, working with kids there is a heavy physical component with boys at this age. I have a 30 year old in a 10 year olds body. Actually .. that isn't entirely true, I've met plenty of 30 year olds who aren't as mature. He's not a rough and tumble kind of guy (though he will if pushed) and not unlike several others in this thread, he's going into a gifted program. So really what you've got is a kid who doesn't understand or like kid behaviour stuck with a bunch of kids.
Basketball was awesome for him. My husband is one of the coaches and we had such a wonderful team. We had a boy with autism, another with some very obvious ADHD, other who were shy, some who were athletes. The coaches fostered an attitude of "I don't care if you win.. you WILL be a team and you WILL respect every boy here." So many parents appreciated it and it was so good.
Reading this thread we've decided to put him in martial arts to gain some confidence and maintain fitness. But he does other things too. Summer camp will be an Amazing Race camp and A Lego Robotics Engineering camp. I'm trying to keep him well rounded and give him some confidence in dealing with the thugs because they are everywhere (and it seems especially bad around here and the type of community we are in). I am going to help him work to be the best and most confident ds he can be, but I am on the tip of calling that school to the mat if my kid comes home with one more bruise. Because we as adults are responsible for not allowing an environment of abuse and assault to occur. And let's be honest, bullying is a cute catchy word for assault, which would never be acceptable at work or at church or at the grocery store if you are an adult. So we do need to defend their basic human right to be free from harm as children.

StillGoing posted 6/4/2014 18:29 PM

TCG = trading card games, like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, That Crazy Japanese Cartoon Where They Scream Their Lines Even When It's Just Saying Something Normal Like "HELLO! I HOPE YOU HAD A NICE DAY!" With Action Shot Background game and stuff.

Check your local library for a gaming club, or look around online. You may be too rural for a Games Workshop Battle Bunker but if you have a library and high speed internet then there are kids who play tabletop games around there somewhere.

knightsbff posted 6/4/2014 18:29 PM

I am finishing the paperwork to have him tested and will get it scheduled ASAP.

He is in Boy Scouts and likes it (I'm the assistant scout master for his patrol).

I signed him up for Jujutsu and we (DS, DD15, and I) start tomorrow.

I wish I could find a camp or program that helps with social skills....anyone used a book to help you help your kid? I'm not sure social skills are my strong suit either. I have ADHD as well and have struggled in this area. I'm not real confident in my ability to help him. Maybe we could learn and practice together? DD could use some help too. We are truly a geek family. It has never bothered any of us before. We are comfortable being geeks, but social skills are pretty important and he seems to be suffering more than any of the rest of us did at that age (except maybe BH).

DD used to get harassed a bit by the "mean girls" in junior high but she would just give them the "could you possibly be any stupider" look and ignore them. It worked because they rarely bug her now and some of them have actually tried to befriend her (she rolled her eyes, and ignored them again because they were trying to get her to ditch her "geek" friends. it never really bothered her because she always saw them as stupid to act the way they were. She was quite happy to be herself and no one was going to change her. I wish I had been that smart at that age.

Sazzy, I do get what you're saying. I asked him if he wanted to try martial arts, he said he would give it a try and see if he likes it. We agreed on two months and I also told him if he wants to stop crossfit kids after a month that is fine too. I will look into gaming opportunities nearby and at least make the offer.

I actually joined a RPG group and a Pokemon group on FB because he doesn't have FB. My friends must think I've lost my mind. Those groups are both in the city about an hour from us so maybe I can find some activities that way. He would LOVE a Lego league. I wonder if I could start one?

NIK, he also does really well with younger kids, adults, and animals. He only has problems with the kids close to his age.

Tushnurse, I think we will do some research/reading on other "different" people too. That's a great idea. I don't want him to be in the "popular" crowd. I just want him to be happy and have healthy self esteem.

Meta, I agree, it's up to us as adults to provide an environment where assaulting each other is not acceptable to kids. And that's exactly the words I used when DS told me what happened. He was assaulted at baseball practice. I wish I had found a Lego type camp for him this summer he would be over the moon!!!!

Cally60 posted 6/4/2014 18:50 PM

I wrote most of this post last night, but hesitated to post, for fear of taking flak for it. But I've decided to edit and post it anyway, just in case it helps Knightsbff or anyone else. If you hate my suggestion, please just skip, rather than yelling at me.


My adult son is a typical geek/nerd, and has many of the traits typical of Asperger's. When he was at school, what gave him that very necessary sense of belonging was Scouting. Some of the things about Scouting that teens often dislike - the rules, order, formal organization and so on - were exactly the sort of thing that appealed to him.

He was unenthusiastic about sport but, through Scouting, participated enthusiastically in regular hikes and camps, archery, energetic trebuchet-construction, and in many other activities which he would otherwise never have had the opportunity, and in some cases, even the inclination, to try.

Eventually, my son and the little group of friends he made within the organization all became Eagle Scouts. (It's one of my son's proudest achievements and I get the impression that it still means more to him than his academic and career successes!) Although one cannot generalize, I have observed that quite a lot of boys like my son seem to enjoy, and stick with, Boy Scouts right through the teenage years, when so many other boys drop out. As an adult, my son is still a loner. He kept in touch with not one of his school friends and almost no one from college. But the friendships he made through Scouting endure even now - over a decade after he "aged out" (with sadness) and went off to college.

Scouting also enriched our family life, as we were all involved in various capacities. We were saddened when it seemed that what in our experience had proved an excellent organization was at risk of being destroyed by an old guard clinging on to a shamefully unenlightened and exclusionary policy. In a way I wish that we were still involved in the movement, so that we could somehow work for change from within. I am glad about the changes that are now at last being made and I look forward, with hope and now at last a degree of optimism, to the day when I can once again recommend Boy Scouts without the slightest of reservations.

[This message edited by Cally60 at 6:58 PM, June 4th (Wednesday)]

Cally60 posted 6/4/2014 18:52 PM

And lo and behold, I see that while I was writing, you've posted again Knightsbff and told us that your son is already in Boy Scouts! So I needn't have written my screed! Oh well, I'll leave it up anyway.

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