Isolation in Teens with Asperger’s and HFA: Parents’ Comments

Parents’ comments based on this article ==> Isolation in Teens with Asperger’s and HFA: Antisocial Behavior or Self-Preservation?

Below are parents’ comments regarding teens with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism and their tendency to isolate (see article link above). Is their isolation a form of antisocial behavior or simply a method of self-preservation?

•    Anonymous said… A lot of people, neutotypical or otherwise, are introverted and actually need time to be alone and relax and recoup energy, whereas extroverted people need more time with other people to get energized. High school is stressful enough without extra-curricular activities, especially for introverts. Kids don't need to have every minute of every day planned out for them. Doing so creates adults who can't function when they are alone because they need someone or something to constantly entertain them. Some activities are good if they provide fun and joy, but you have to be aware that adding more activities leaves less time for him to study and will likely just stress him out more.

•    Anonymous said… Be careful what you wish for. I hoped for more friends then wished I hadn't as they were all terrible 'friends' but he couldn't see it.

•    Anonymous said… I have a 15 y.o boy who is exactly the same. He says he spends all week with school friends & weekends is his down time, his family time. I have come to understand that it's ok as long as he is ok. Home is where he is comfortable & where he recharges. This is so perfectly spot on!

•    Anonymous said… I have a 34-year-old niece with Aspergers. Unfortunately her mother had her head in the sand when she was young and now paying a heavy price . The girl now stays on FB looking for men. Won't come out of the bedroom. Parents, take your head out of the sand.

•    Anonymous said… I live in Cyprus and we are very limited in activities. I'm trying to get my 15 yr old interested in something. .especially as the school summer here is 3 months. .such a long time to be stuck to his laptop/pc

•    Anonymous said… If he is happy being by himself, then let him. NT's seem to think that socialising is the be all and end all, and for a lot of people on the spectrum, it's not. They don't need or crave it, like NT's do, and that's just fine. If on the other hand he wants to socialise, but finds it hard, try and find out how to help him acheive that. Maybe join some groups so he can meet people with simular interests. This doesn't have to be your regular, go out of the house and meet people, kind of group. It could be online, (of course teach the dangers about meeting people online, obviously, but it's not all bad). Some of the people I consider my closest friends, I have never met, and only chatted to via FB. And I have also made some great friends playing online games, such as world of warcraft, and from there got talking to people via skype, and some I met IRL. I even met my daughters father playing this game. I am not diagnosed, but highly suspect I have aspergers. I do feel there is lot less pressure in making friends online. My eldest son has aspergers, and he's made a lot of friends gaming, and also finds it lot less pressure to socialise via skype and gaming. A lot of his friends also have aspergers, so maybe look into getting your son to meet with other aspies. As for sport, god, I couldn't think of a worse nightmare for people with autism. I have never been interested in it at all. My eldest son and my younger son, who also has high functioning autism, both hate sports too. But it makes sense. Take football for example. Loads of people on a field. You have to predict what each persons next move is going to be, to know what your next move should be. As a person with autism, one of the problems encountered is predicting what other people are going to do. You have several people running towards you if you have the ball. This can be traumatic if you, like myself, HATE anyone invading your personal space. Or if, like my younger son, all your senses regarding touch, are messed up, so that a slight little bump, can feel like a really had knock. Then there is all the noise that comes with people on the pitch, and people at the sidelines shouting, cheering and clapping. Hell for anyone who is sound sensative. I know my younger son really hates football, and sometimes it saddens me, as most of his class play in the local team. But at the same time, I understand why and never mention it to him, He was offered the chance to play when he first started school, and when he's mentioned his friends playing, I have offered him the opportunity again, but he's not interested and that's fine. Some sports can be fun. I like Swimming, as I can just be in my own world and relax whilst swimming. My younger son likes ping pong, bowling and used to go to a club shooting pellet rifles, for which he won a trophy. So maybe look for the less popular kinds of sports as an option, ones that you don't have to play in a team, and therefor have far less social demands.

•    Anonymous said… I'm probably neurotypical and was bought up in the 1960s/70s, but...wouldn't play school sport, didn't volunteer, didn't join clubs. Spent most of my time on my short wave radio (or building more of same) or playing wargames and doing geek stuff. All at home. For some kids it's just what they want to do!

•    Anonymous said… Mine son is the same. School friends are school friends. Is not sporty. Will go for bike rides and walks, but most of the time is on computer or his phone. He's happy with this. We just do activities as a family so he comes along.

•    Anonymous said… my son does this. he is 14. I have no problem with it. I know one thing many parents today don't: where he is, who he is with,what he is doing, drug choice(none),alcohol intake (none). he had school friends and a brother here. he is interacting with people. just because he isn't highly social doesn't mean he isn't getting the just. He knows how to act. and does so with everyone... but me lol

•    Anonymous said… My son has aspergers 22 now. struggled socialising as they do because of ignorant society.he has no friends only Internet friends. Ido worry allot about him as all parents do.but I've had so called friends in the past and turned out to be not so nice friends.iam 50 now and idont worry about having friends I have a couple that I call true friends.i get on in life just fine on my own two Iam sure my lad will be fine as gets more older.long as you can teach them to be independent.

•    Anonymous said… My son is the same. I tried everything and now don't bother..I reckon they gave enough to to deal with and process during the day. This is their down time perhaps?

•    Anonymous said… no friends is better than bad friends. My son only had bad friends as he isn't social and couldn't interact well at school. He is now 21 and has had a very hard few years with drinking etc. and being in a bad crowd. It has changed him and he finds it hard to find work. Definitely better off staying at home with family than interacting with the wrong friends I feel very sad for his life now. He is undiagnosed Asperger's I'm sure of it.

•    Anonymous said… Sounds like my 14 try Olde son with Aspergers. But I homeschooling him abs he has a brother who us 13 an acts more mature then him so sometimes I think he's the older one but he gets along great with his brother but he never wants to go anywhere with us and never wants to do anything outside the home unless it's like a theme park or the pool but at least he's social with his brother.

•    Anonymous said… Teaching the children to be independent is really important so they can take care of themselves throughout adulthood. I have supported children with aspergers through school and it is such a hard time for them, far too much in some cases. I have also counselled adults and children with aspergers and a lot of the time they talked about feeling anxious, feeling different, being bullied, not understanding the reactions or interactions of others in social situations, feeling depressed and suicidal, the majority have prefered their own company. Once some of the pressure is taken off the children have been more able to manage themselves. I have also worked with and counselled parents and the frustration and pressure to 'get it right' and be 'a good parent' is tremendous. Take the pressure off.

•    Anonymous said… This sounds like most teenagers these days. I have 3 teens, 1 Aspie, 2 non, they all do the same thing.

•    Anonymous said… What many neurotypical people don't seem to be able to understand is that they WANT to be alone, or at least in a quiet or safe place such as home. Stop imposing YOUR ideas of what is normal on your children and just try to love and support their choices.

•    Anonymous said… First of all, being an extremely active when I was a child, why is there such a concern about children who are not interested in competitive sports? Like sports is more important that intellect? My 14 year old is pulled to his computer whenever at home. My only issue is that his room is cleaned up and any chores he is suppose to do, is done. Otherwise, his sense of enjoyment is his: He creates music, plays games, interacts with kids all over the world. They will be okay, just as he child (the young me) that so obsessed with gymnastics, they can only think of gymnastics. Lived and breathed it. Did I grow up to be a gymnast? No. Let them be kids without so much judgement and fear.  😊

•    Anonymous said… Great article

•    Anonymous said… I am not or maybe on the spectrum I could function at work and at school but when it's over I want and wanted to be home to unwind and declutter my brain. I have few friends and see them sometimes but mostly when I'm home I watch tv. My son goes to public school socializes there but when he gets home he's done.

•    Anonymous said… I personally think its important for all kids to socialize but each kid is unique. My son has never cared for sports although they are an important part to our family and he recognized this and tried. He loves being outside though and since 1st grade wanted to do Scouting. He is now 17 and is working on his Eagle for Boy Scouts. Figure out their interests and steer them to existing clubs or create one! Just don't over do it.

•    Anonymous said… Its worthwhile to do some research on successful people with Aspergers diagnoses. Social skills are definitely a learned skill for some and will serve them later in life for jobs /relationships etc. Are there any things that I serest him that you could find a social group for? Or perhaps some groups their OT or other therapists can suggest? Our Aspue teen goes to camps regularly with other kids like herself and they do a lot of group work and owe can see the development sees made in her social skills thanks to these camps. Best of luck.

•    Anonymous said… Society needs to understand more about high functioning autism. What they want and not what we want them to be. Great article!

•    Anonymous said… Sometimes the problem is thinking it's a problem. It's a problem if they can't make friends but it sounds like school and clubs are enough for them at the moment. Most kids with aspergers will probably make more meaningful friends with shared interests later on in life.

•    Anonymous said… Sounds like my non HFA 12 year old (reading just the above and not the article). My neighborhood has several 12 and 13 year old girls now. Most want to hibernate in their rooms with their phones and not go out with parents. Could partially be the "normal" age issues too. My daughter is not interested in sports/clubs either. My HFA son is only 6 so cannot tell if he will follow the same footsteps...

•    Anonymous said… Thank you for this article very helpful

•    Anonymous said… That's what my daughter does too. She is 13.

•    Anonymous said… They have to be super social all day in a crowded classroom. Of course they need alone time later. Back in my day they complained when I stayed in a read books, when I went exploring by myself, can't win.

•    Anonymous said… We have this problem. If anyone knows of any groups in Herefordshire U.K. That would be good.... no support around here.

•    Anonymous said… What a fantastic article! I understand that they need down time but I can't get my 12 yr old Aspie to go anywhere, not shops or visiting or sports, she wants to stay at home all the time!

•    Anonymous said… By allowing that behavior you create a child who cannot function outside his own four walls and will never be able to go to school, hold a job, or socialize with others! As parents we must help our kids find a balance of activities and recharging's called Life!

•    Anonymous said… Have you suggested any outdoor activities that are solo enterprises or involve a very small number of people? I am AS and hated sport at that age as all "school sports" were (necessarily, I suppose), TEAM games which I avoided for obvious reasons.
At 14 I was forced to attend the 1 week outward bound (then compulsory in all schools) and discovered a love of mountains and the outdoors which I still enjoy (mostly alone) to this day (I'm 48). ...and remember; if you meet one autistic, you've met......ONE autistic.

•    Anonymous said… I am new to this group. My 10 year old was just diagnosed with AS and his tablet is a life line. However, if he doesn't do what he is expected to do school and chore wise, he looses it for the day. I really wanna take a sledgehammer to it, but I know that is not wise. He has been coming home exhausted from school.

•    Anonymous said… I know what you mean because I to have been were you are right now. I have 4 boys (now adults) and raising my grandson who is now 11. I have been from one extreme to the other. My thoughts are from my experiences with 5 boys and no two were the same, but I learned from the oldest, that letting him dictate the who, what, where and how has led to a "man" who cannot function in the real world. It came to the day, like you say, that he was bigger than me and I could no longer get him to do anything. With my other boys, I started control things with limits and supports and they have thrived and the other three have lives, work and friends, and two are married! Is it optimal lives? for them it is, but I don't feel they would be where they are if I hasn't controlling from a young age how they interacted in the world they live in. This is my experience and thoughts, just like the author of the article. Are they right or wrong - no. I am I right or wrong - no. I wish you well and pray that you will find te support you and your child needs.

•    Anonymous said… I think it's ALL done in self preservation not being anti social my 14 yo is so exhausted after school that he naps before getting on his social media sites to talk w online friends he gets out everyday and does well at school that is a HUGE accomplishment for him I encourage him to come with me to the store but I don't force him to do more than he's comfortable with that's NOT fair he will be just fine remember folks our kids can be just as successful as Sheldon Cooper if we encourage them to do something they love and apply themselves in school.

•    Anonymous said… I think we all have a battle. We all can give advice but, not all situations are the same. Rachel Siddons... I think we would all agree that we're all trying to be the best parents we can be. I agree that we need to encourage but, I've thought the same thing.. my nephew wants to skip school a lot because of bullying and it's always under the pretense of being sick. I'm a nurse and he's not sick. I've thought over and over again what am I going to do as a single parent when he's bigger than me and refuses.

•    Anonymous said… I was concerned for YEARS! everytime i tried to push him i felt like i was pushing him away and all it did was stress us both out! My son has high functioning AS he is 18 and is a senior in high school after i stopped pushing and supported him our relationship got better! just recently he started hanging out outside the house! going to the movies and bowling! Im starting to get concerned about how he's gonna do after high school! Like getting a job and continuing his education! Although my oldest is still trying to figure himself out and he's 21 lol

•    Anonymous said… I will keep that in mind as he goes out in the world around people who may be drinking I told him I'd always come get him and to NEVER get in the car w someone who's been drinking I plan to use a secret code of having him text me an X to let me know he needs me then I call him and let him know he must come home and I'm on my way so that way he isn't embarrassed in front of his friends if he ever trusts anyone to be around them, do you have trust issues as well?

•    Anonymous said… It's a requirement in our household that you do a school activity (ASD and typical). Either you choose or mom chooses for you. It's not up for debate. After choosing track for one son that dragged his heels, he miraculously found his own voice and his own activity. I don't regret doing it this way one inch.

•    Anonymous said… Just putting this out there, because I'm currently in bed crying and actually wish I hadn't seen your comment...I didn't let my son 'start', I've begged for outside help, and never once has it worked long term, he is now bigger and stronger than me, and once I've dragged him to the car I'm also risking other people's lives if he decides to kick the seat & open doors. If him being in his room (even without devices he still won't come out) is safer for my daughters and myself & partner that's what I have to do to get by some days.

•    Anonymous said… Keeping kids engaged with school and a few activities that interests them, especially in groups to stay connected with people, even if it is a limited amount of time and with the supports they need.

•    Anonymous said… My AS son is 28. Finished college, got a job in his profession and just bought his own house. Never sports or outside activities. Outside of work my husband and I are his only source of 'friends' or activities (other than the computer). He comes and visits for a couple hours nearly every night. I worry about his future without friends, but he seems happy and says he is happy.

•    Anonymous said… My exes 8 year old is like this now!

•    Anonymous said… My son is 14. He is very intelligent and understands so much more than we know. He has been a computer master since he was a little toddler with a paci and a diaper. He is so content with what he does. He creates things like music and videos for his youtube channel. I strongly believe that we should support their talents and what makes them happy so that they can thrive in that area and become experts at what they love. Sometimes it is hard to not push them to do the norm, but they are not the norm. They are who they are, and that is okay!  ;)

•    Anonymous said… My son is a home body. He's 20 now and in college living at home. He struggled socially and so we did encourage him to try clubs and sports in high school. Reluctantly he joined the cross country team in high school. He hated the sport but stuck with it and he met a group of like minded people and soon had a friend group at school. He also joined yearbook which he loved. This might not work for everyone, but Will now has a group of people that he stays in touch with. He chooses his level of social interactions and mostly he's happy hanging out at home. It's all a crap shoot quite honestly - try a little bit of everything to see what sticks. We found that if we let Will hibernate in his room for too long he was not pleasant to interact with, but with some outside activities he really shined. Your call, but don't not try new activities because your child doesn't want to. Encourage them to get involved and see what happens. Hopping off my soapbox now.

•    Anonymous said… My son who is 13 hasnt left the house in 4 months unless its to go to school for his 3 hours only by car. He wont go outside as he no only feels safe in his room or at home. He was always outside but wont go out anymore. He is quite happy. But have family support coming in to help us get him outside more . As he wont go to school either .

•    Anonymous said… Not sure about this one. My son feels trapped at school and being forced to socialise and do group activities is his worst nightmare. He said just cause it's what the other kids do doesn't mean it's right for me. He's 10. He is however polite to people and able to make small talk if he feels safe. His iPad/games gives him something to unwind on but also a common topic to talk to his school people about (he doesn't like the word friends) we suggest activities from time to time but really the whole school thing is enough for him.

•    Anonymous said… Processing the onslaught of teenage social information is EXHAUSTING for anyone with ASD. It drove me via sleeplessness to drink and depression at that age, and that was WITHOUT pushy parents!

•    Anonymous said… Sounds a lot like me at 14. I have Aspergers but wasn't diagnosed till age 49! Now 57 and still living with it. I understand!

•    Anonymous said… sounds just like my son- and you know what? what does it matter? I am not autistic but when i was young I was shy,hated sport, did not volunteer, did not socialize much and as an adult I am still the same and I am perfectly content with being this way. Let him be the way he wants to be. You can suggest and expose him to family events but he does not have to be what you think he should be or what all "normal" kids are being. He is happy as he is and so should you be.

•    Anonymous said… Thank you for commenting I worry that he'll take up drinking as alcoholism runs in our family but I pray everyday that he makes smart choices NOT to drink so far so good but high school starts next year and it's a BIG school so I will worry more about the possibility of being bullied I just hope he continues to thrive as he is now he has 4.17 GPA and is on the honor roll I don't think he could do that if he weren't happy.

•    Anonymous said… There is. Nothing wrong with being alone as long as he is happy.
Finding a job of some sort would be best there may be things he can do from home or that require little interaction. I'm now 32 I don't interact other then on the internet.

•    Anonymous said… They asked John Lennon what he wanted to be when he grew up. He allegedly replied, "Happy". From your terms, you are in the states. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it must be to live in a country that has even more intolerance of people who measure "happy" in unconventional ways. Drink is both a drug and a poison, control it and use it like any other, or it will control and use you!

•    Anonymous said… This is their kind of happy. It's not our kind, but their kind. Unless he is complaining or depressed about having no friends then I would let him be.

•    Anonymous said… Very difficult to do if u have a child who absolutely refuses to go out - even to school.

•    Bonalyn said... This article is spot on! My Aspie daughter couldn't be happier than when she is alone. I'll hear her laughing out loud and very engaged in research or anime and just as happy as can be while doing her own thing. I've learned to let my worry go. She can handle school, but isn't interested in socializing. She likes yoga, but I've learned not to ask too much about a class. If I ask about her research, I am guaranteed to learn something fabulous and see her come alive with excitement when she can share what she knows. My daughter may not be the most social, but she is by far one of the most interesting/fascinating/entertaining people I have ever met! Keep up these great articles. I love sharing them with family members.

•    forsythia said... This described our 11-year-old grandson perfectly. He's on the more sociable end of the spectrum, but he still needs time alone. Interestingly enough, his dad is like this and so am I, even though his dad and I are related only as in-laws.

•    Eli said... Thanks for sharing that is helpful to those of us who parent those on the spectrum and for self introspection (I also recharge in the quiet/ alone times) :)

•    ThamesArt said... Thank you for another very interesting article.

•    Kjell O.S. said... Thank you so much,Mark Hutton! This article gave me an insight into the Aspie childs internal world!

•    Doll Party said... All I can say is wow. We just talked to our son about this Sunday and I received this article yesturday morning. We have been battling with our son and yes trying to force him out of his room.I have worried that he would totally isolate himself.Thank you so much Dr.I will be ordering your material for parents of Aspie teens.You seem to be on point about everything we are going through right now!Thank you so much for the free newsletter!It is truly priceless!

•    anita thomson said... Please beware of letting your aspie offspring spend all of their free time alone. Of course some alone time is needed for recharging one's batteries. Our son has found friends with like interests periodically in his life. Now it is LARPing and tabletop RPG's. Google them if you don't know what they are. The LARPers found my son and I will be forever grateful.

•    Nancy Dynes said... My 20 year old Aspergers son is now a sophomore in college 4 hours away from home. He has an eidetic memory for numbers and is already a graduate student in mathematics. He is also majoring in computer engineering. He works as a TA and is a member of a service fraternity. He has a perfect GPA and has adjusted well to living in a college dorm. He's been accepted into one of the most prestigious mathematic research programs this summer. Next year he will be studying math in Russia for a semester. He has even connected some wonderful friends. Despite his academic and social success he still needs his alone time to "re-charge" his battery. If he becomes overwhelmed or frustrated he will still do some head banging or hit himself in the head. I have also noticed when he comes home for holiday breaks he has difficulty adjusting to being at home, but when it is time to leave he has trouble dealing with the transition of going back to college. He is already worried about how he will deal with life when he finishes his doctorate and has to function in the 'real' world. He feels he can never be comfortable outside of academia. He worries about it almost obsessively. He recognizes his intellectual gifts almost to the point of arrogance, yet he verbalizes that he will never be successful in life. When I try to reason with him and boost his self esteem he becomes agitated. I am wondering if this is common for a YA with Aspergers. I have only just found this blog. I wish it would have been a resource during my son's younger years. I am delighted to be following now!

•    Doll Party said... Nancy...It was very inspiring to read about your sons progress and success in school.My son is 18 and still has a year of hs left. I had ruled out staying on campus because I was fearful of him being bullied and or harrassed because he sometimes talks outloud to himself when he thinks he's alone.It would be nice to allow him to experience college like any other young man..this gives me a bit of confidence.

Please post your comment below…

==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers & High-Functioning Autistic Teens

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...