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.
Hi, I understand how hard that must be to watch your son going through, and also how hard it must be for him.
As Graham SR said, I would have hoped that things had improved since I was at school. I was bullied and taken advantage of too - but I didn't know then that I'm autistic, and neither did my parents. You have an advantage in your knowledge here, but how you can use that in today's school systems I don't know (someone else here will, no doubt).
I offer you some thoughts from my perspective, please take as just one viewpoint amongst many.
Based on my own experience, I would say that perhaps one way that you can help him is to listen carefully when he wants to talk, and give him space to recuperate when he needs it. Special interests are one way that we escape into a world that we can control and enjoy, and are mainly a positive thing for us. Not grasping social etiquette may be just the way he is, neither positive nor negative, and all you can do is prompt him to work through what happens when he does x, y or z. I overcame my lack of understanding by observing and building a capability to emulate others, but this cost me dearly because of the sustained mental effort needed. For this reason, it *may* be better for your son not to put too much effort into learning social rules and emulating them. On the other hand, I guess that you perceive that he needs to in order to make and keep friends, so some effort may be needed. I don't think there is an easy answer.
Ask him how he would describe an ideal friend? Where he would like to be with them? This might give you some pointers as to where to help him look.
One thing I have found from *adult* life is that shared interests, especially where eye contact is not expected or practical (in my case, motorcycling, running, cycling) provide a way to be with others and form bonds without the strain of having to conform to expected social behaviours that literally exhaust me. Another benefit of doing this in a "club" environment is that the members provide an instant "circle" that you don't have to construct yourself by networking and socialising.
I hope that helps a bit.