Hi, first post.
My son is 11 and has just started secondary. He was diagnosed in January with autism and dyspraxia and hypermobility. This is because for some reason, he's been sent for referrals since he was 4 but the drs kept sending him back.
Since starting school he's been bullied by a group of boys including surrounding him in the changing room. He is such a lovely and funny person but seems to have little to no confidence on himself and tends to only speak to people his age when they initiate conversation. Even then, he is very passive and tries to please them. He stims and repeats, has special interests and doesn't quite grasp social etiquette.
I know he longs for friends but seems unable to make any. My question is how can I help him at school, and where can I find out if there's any Autism specific social clubs nearby so he can make friends with people like himself?
He says he doesn't like himself and is lonely and it breaks my heart.
People aren't required to like your son or befriend him. However, they were required to respect his right to exist, to move in the same space, and to be treated equally under the law. Making sure your son is aware of this and teaching him how to stand up for his rights in a healthy way e.g follow the formal complaints procedure vigorously is a key skill that would be beneficial for him to develop. Plus, helping him look for friends elsewhere (as you suggested) is a great way to go. After all, if he goes to uni or even in the workplace, he might not like the people he's immediately based with and will need skills to be able to cope with his environment whilst focusing on friends elsewhere. In regards to making friends, many areas have specific FB pages for autistic individuals, which advertise these things. I know Sheffield has a very active scene for holiday events. If I were in your shoes I'd also make sure you son has a lot of opportunities to interact and develop friends with his NT peers as these are the ones he will need to interact with the most throughout his life and especially in employment. Have you sat down with your son yet and gone through the activities in your area to see which clubs he'd like to join?
From these boards I've seen many autistics who have had bad experiences and become incredibly prejudiced against NTs in general, favouring segregation over integration. As such, I also think it's crucial that you make sure your son is aware that many people are bullied whether they're ND or NT and that the issue isn't with his neurotype or theirs but with the way these individuals have been taught to behave.