My 10 year old daughter acts much younger than her age.

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.

  • 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. 

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