Mixed emotions and “Friendships” by @neiley83 #ThisIsAutism

By | April 21, 2014

We’ve reached the end of the Easter holidays for D, she returns tomorrow and T on Wednesday. A fact which he is delighted about, that he gets an extra day off, when it’s reversed and D has an inset day and he doesn’t..he’s not so pleased!

For D and T, it’s been a mixed day. On the one hand, she’s looking forward to seeing her teachers and telling them about what we’ve been up to and on the other, she’s not looking forward to seeing those who aren’t nice to her. Those who call her a “baby” and mock her.

This is the subject of ongoing sessions with CAMHS, trying to give her the confidence and tools to say when things are upsetting her at the time, as opposed to bottling it all up until she sees me and then….boom! Bolt time!

With T, the return to school will mean SATs tests in a couple of weeks and the realisation that it will be his last term at primary school, with no clear indication as to secondary school as we’re appealing the place. It’s a lot of uncertainty for him and on the surface he’s coping, but occasionally he’ll let it out, usually at D.

This Is Autism

Tonight’s guest post comes from @neiley83 and I found it both insightful (from Neil’s viewpoint) and empathetic (with regard to T and D).


“A big part of my childhood and schooldays was having a lot of friends. I had a close circle of half a dozen or so throughout primary school, and a wider less close circle when I got to secondary school. Maybe it’s part of the ASD in me that I felt I didn’t need to go making new friends because to be honest, I find it difficult to go through the friend-making process in later life. I seem happy enough to be making my way though life without the need to continually be making friends.

Matthew it seems takes this to a whole new level. He was diagnosed with autism when he was four and the social minefield that is friendship was huge trouble way back then (he’s eight now.) He had few friends in nursery – if you can say he had any at all. There were kids in his class who liked him, and would befriend him, but you could see that Matthew considered it a complete mystery. He would flit from activity to activity in class – usually when another classmate came over to become involved in the activity Matthew was trying to enjoy. The minute his personal space was invaded, the activity was over for Matthew.

His progression through primary school has shown absolutely no improvement. He finds friendship an even greater mystery than ever. To Matthew, making friends just involves a swap of names. His inability to read social signals makes him vulnerable this way, and its an easy way for those with unfriendly intentions to gain Matthew’s trust. He’s also been stung by people who have been a friend to him in the past. Just a few weeks ago, Matthew was on the receiving end from bullies, one of whom had been a friend in nursery. He came home and said, “He said he was my friend” – he’d learned a hard lesson, but the result has been that he feels he can’t trust anyone. In the hard knocks arena that is school, it has meant he cuts a solitary figure and has denied himself a support network in the playground and classroom. You ask him who his friends are at school, and he will tell you that he doesn’t have any friends. That’s kind of sad.

During the diagnosis process, the area that gave the clinical psychologist most concern was the school playground. It’s a chaotic place where the group mentality rules. A lone person is just fodder for those groups. Matthew tries to join in because he feels he has to – everyone else does it, so he should too – even though he doesn’t understand it. The inevitable result is Matthew being on the receiving end.

Daniel has it slightly better and has a decent sized circle of friends. He has a better understanding of the friend -making process but like Matthew, the whole friendship game just eludes his full understanding. He is quite happy to play with his friends – he has two he’s particularly close to – but is just as happy to stop play in the blink of an eye and go home. He’s lucky that his friends are aware of his “special brain” and remain close to him. Friends and friendship are a vital part of life, and the help us negotiate our way through our lives. Autism – in my experience – gets in the way of that process and its not helping Matthew or Daniel.

My advice to them is simple. When you make true friends, you need to hang on to that. Its hard enough to live our life as it is. Having people that are always there for us is a magical thing. My only hope is that that the boys continue to develop a greater understanding of friendship, and that they learn to appreciate the unstinting support that real friendship can bring.”


Facebook Comments


rebecca beesley on 1st May 2014 at 1:54 pm.

Friendships can be so hard. i remember J receiving only 1 christmas card at preschool when he had sent over 20 – it was heartbreaking. (and that was pre-diagnosis so technically no-one knew there was anything ‘wrong’ or ‘different’ about him then.). I wish so much that schools would put more focus on supporting kids at playtimes and not just in lessons – I used to have to pick J up at lunchtimes because of lack of support in school. xxx


Jeannette on 11th May 2014 at 3:52 pm.

Totally agree. It is lunchtimes and break times that D finds hardest in her SN school because it’s not adult-led, she quite often comes home anxious about something (which might seem quite minor to other children) that may have happened.


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