Hello. I'm new on here, and would like some advice if possible please. My 10 year old daughter starts secondary school next September and I am concerned that she won't fit in because she acts so much younger than other children her age. She was diagnosed some years ago and she knows that she has ASD, and while it is quite endearing (sometimes) that she is still very childlike, I am starting to worry now that she won't have grown up by the time she starts secondary school, which will make her 'stick out like a sore thumb'. My eldest daughter, who is 15, just keeps saying that she will be bullied, which obviously isn't helpful. Does anyone have any advice please on how we can encourage her to act her age? Thank you.
It's very tricky. I remember being her age (undiagnosed) and constantly being urged to get my ears pierced, wear makeup, attend parties etc. Then at school I was painfully aware that the other girls had completely different interests. I wanted to avoid bullying so learnt to mask constantly to fit in.
Even masking 100% of the time I never really fit in properly and I got very depressed.
There was a group of girls at my school who were really into horses, cuddly toys etc and they were very much the unpopular group but I still envied them as they were proper friends.
It might be that she finds a little group of similar children. Does the school have nurture groups?
It's really hard as a parent as we can't be there all of the time and we know that bullying does happen. But schools nowadays do have a duty to ensure all children are safe and happy so look into support now.
I hope it all goes okay.
Hi. Thanks for replying. I'm sorry that you had a bad time at school. I'm not sure about nurture groups, but I will make sure to ask about it. She does have a couple of good friends at the moment who should be going to the same school so hopefully she'll still be okay. I suppose we won't know until she gets there.
my nephew is like that. He is obviously younger in his head and thus an easy target but he was never bullied. I would flag it up to the school. You could increase her fitness in general. Make sure she doesnt carry cash / valuables until she settles in. Play it by ear and see what happens. I don't think you can suddenly make her grow up. She will be fine.
This is so difficult and I feel for you and your daughter.
Please be reassured that secondary schools have a large number of children and so it is highly unlikely that she will be the only one with an ASD. It will be worth discussing with the school the type of support she will need and also maybe asking if they can pass your contact details on to the parents of other ASD children who go there.
Realistically, your elder daughter is probably right and she will likely struggle a bit one way or another. Perhaps speak to your 10 year old and find out what she thinks and feels. How aware is she of her differences and how much does it bother her? Is she prepared for how the other children may respond? While it’s always possible to learn to mask, I personally found it a very lonely and shallow existence—but being bullied made me sad and lonely too. I was happy enough at school during lessons; I just wished they hadn’t pushed me out into the playground every break time, but it was the early 1990s and I didn’t get diagnosed until 2012.
I‘m sure support will be forthcoming if you can speak to the right people. At the end of the day, your daughter isn’t being deliberately childish so I’m really not sure to what extent you can encourage her to ‘act her age’.
I was in a three tier system at school (lower, middle upper), and I remember the transition from lower to middle school at age 9. I had flu the first week and missed all the induction stuff, and it was a big school with two wings spread over three floors, and the kids in my class were from lower schools right across the area. It was A LOT to take in and everyone else had found their feet by the time I showed up. I ended up developing ME shortly after Christmas (which I’m now starting to believe was probably autistic stress and not ME), and missed 6 months of school through being mostly bedridden.
Masking is anxiety-inducing, stressful and exhausting. Your daughter has a diagnosis so please try to use it to full effect and get the support she needs. You will find a way through, I’m certain.
I'm sorry that you are feeling concerned about your daughter's transition into secondary school. You may find the following information useful.
The following article contains a lot of helpful information about education for a child with an autism:http://www.autism.org.uk/about/in-education.aspx This includes information regarding getting extra support for your child in their education setting.
You can search for schools that cater for children with an autism spectrum disorder on our Autism Services Directory: https://www.autism.org.uk/services/autism-services-directory.aspx
It can help to pass on information specifically for education professionals about autism spectrum disorders. The following link contains information written for education professionals: http://www.autism.org.uk/professionals/teachers.aspx
You may want to contact our Education Rights Service who provides information, support and advice on educational provision and entitlements. Please see the following link for further information: http://www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/education-rights.aspx
I hope this helps,
My daughter is young for her age, (awaiting diagnosis) she survived year 7 and the school Senco came on board with us towards the end of year 7. Your junior school should hand over information on her to the new secondary and maybe you could arrange a meeting with their Senco before she starts, ask what they can do to help her, maybe she can be placed in a class with her friends from primary ? Are there any summer activities at the school that she can join in with? My daughter has a friend who acts even younger than she does and she’s flourished and been looked out for, pupils were assigned to help her find her way around etc.
I wouldn’t try to get your daughter to change, let her be herself and that way hopefully she will meet true friends. I feel for you as a mum and everyday I carry a worry about my own daughter hoping she’s had a good day. Best wishes with everything x
Thanks so much for your reply. The school is very good I think, so I'm hoping she will be okay. I wasn't too worried to be honest until I foolishly listened to the voice of doom that is my eldest daughter.
It must have been so difficult for you at school, especially when you didn't have a diagnosis or any help. I hope that you feel happier now. You have certainly helped to put my mind at rest anyway.
Thank you. I shall look into all of that, and I am sure I'll find if helpful.
Thanks ever so much for your reply. The school generally have a policy of not putting children in the same form as their friends, which is supposed to encourage them to mix with children from other schools. However, I have asked if she can be with her two close friends and I think I might have to be quite insistent about it. I'm glad your daughter and her friend coped so well. I feel very encouraged by that.