Online help?

HI, my 14 yo high functioning ASD chlid is having some real challenges.  Primary school was a breeze, he is smart and never had to study.  Secondary... another matter.  His social challenges led to his friends from early years - often the result of parental playdates and the like - faded away, he is alone, having hygiene issues, refusing to go to school, sneaking up late at night to get on internet, failing tests.  The school is mystified, he was such a good student, and seems to us poorly suited to meet his special learning needs.  We live in Jakarta, expats, and my wife travels all the time - which leads to real disruption.  We've tried a number of local expat counselors, but none are well suited.  We are a bit desperate - thinking about quitting jobs and moving home - but our other kids are doing well, and we don't have really good options on return.  So... we were wondering, does anyone know of any CBT specialists who work online - through Skype or some other means.  Anyone have experience with that, and is it even a real option?  Our boy is quite comfortable online, so we think it might even work better for him than face to face - but we are really new to this.  Any guidance or views are appreciated. Cheers, Tom

Parents Reply
  • All good advice, but hard to do, when we have a very smart, manipulative and unhappy teen on our hands.

    I can well imagine, I used to be a smart, manipulative and unhappy autistic 14 year old boy many years ago! There are a couple of points there that struck me.

    The counsellors seem little interested in his social life at school, yet this is potentially his biggest challenge at the moment. On top of the greater schoolwork expectations, he and his peers are all going through puberty. Changed formal rules at school are relatively easy compared to the new forms of socialising that will be going on around him, and his peers' personalities may be changing faster than he can adapt to them. I found it a very difficult time in my life. I felt like the rug had been pulled from beneath me, as all of the social rules that I'd worked so hard to learn stopped working as my peers grew into young adults. Even his own body may be changing in confusing ways, which may be exaggerated if he has any sensory or motor control issues. That's a hell of a lot to take on while still being expected to do your schoolwork; he has all the other pupils to study too, and a million and one baffling questions zipping round his head, no doubt.

    Rather than his home life making him challenging at school, it's more likely the other way around. He'll build up masses of anxiety at school that may be difficult to express, constrained by the formal rules and potential for peer problems that he can't predict. Home is where he is naturally accommodated and understood better, so is his safe environment in which to then express that anxiety. I have seen here and elsewhere how the assumption that behaviours are consistent between school and home can create big problems for getting the right support; the difference in expression of autistic traits can be quite astonishing.