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Autistic Kids and Peer Rejection

“I need to help my autistic daughter (high functioning) deal with peers – and rejection of peers. I want to be able to help her fit in with her friends.”

All kids want friends. Friendships are what make children who they are developmentally, emotionally, and intellectually. It starts when children are just babies. 
Moms and dads sit mesmerized, waiting for their son or daughter to make eye contact, smile, and coo. It’s the beginning of real, social connection. From that moment, life is all about relationship.

Younger kids spend most of their time trying to make and keep friends. The early years of school continue to focus primarily on friendships, emphasizing socialization over academics. But, kids with ASD level 1, or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), have genuine struggles making friends and keeping them. This sets the stage for most of the obvious problems related to autism spectrum disorders.

Your daughter should know that you are an available support for her when things happen that are beyond her control. Young people with HFA need structured, step-by-step guidelines to help them in sticky situations. You can set up a plan for her to use when dealing with her peers.

Use your daughter’s specific friendships to draw out your guidelines. If she has a friend who is happy to play, but acts differently when others are around, she needs a plan of action on how to handle the situation. This can be typical behavior for boys and girls when they fall into social cliques. Help her make a list of “if-then” steps to follow. For example:
  • If my friend acts like she doesn’t know me, then I will tell her I don’t like how she is treating me.
  • If my friend calls me names in front of other kids, then I will play with someone else or tell an adult.
  • If my friend is happy to play, then we’ll play together on the swings.

Another example could be time on the playground. Lay out the guidelines of acceptable behavior on the playground. Give your daughter examples of problems that may arise, and write out a plan of action on how to deal with these problems. With practice, your daughter will be able to replay her plan in her mind and put it into action. For example:
  • If my peers try to skip my turn on the slide, I will calmly tell them it is my turn.
  • If a boy or girl bullies me on the playground, I will tell my teacher as soon as possible.
  • If my teacher doesn’t help me with a bully on the playground, I will tell another grown-up that I trust as soon as I can.

Rejection is tough for all children. There will be times when your daughter will be rejected. It may be that her spectrum disorder has little to do with the rejection. You can still have a plan for dealing with rejection. She should know what appropriate behavior is for a child who has been rejected. Reassure her that this is normal, and that all kids get rejected at some point.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said… My son with through the same thing in middle school. He looks normal, but when they found out he was in a special class they stopped hanging around with him- Maybe your women friends has kids you know that he can play with.
•    Anonymous said… My son is fifteen i give up trying and now he has made other aspie friends that understand him.
•    Anonymous said… Find a support group etc its amazing hoq many friends u find for u and ur child. All the best xoxo

*    Anonymous said... my 14 year old daughter is really struggling as we'll. as I am a Christian, I have been encouraging her to join the youth meetings at church.

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