My Autistic Son Doesn’t Have Any Friends

by Jillsmo

My son, with autism, doesn’t have any friends.

Wait, before you feel bad for him…. let me explain…..

I’m a very friendly person; I’m chatty, outgoing… did I mention chatty? I can pretty much talk to anybody at any time, unless I’m in a really bad mood, and then get the hell away from me. I’d always just assumed that my children would be the same as me, and my 2nd born actually is. My 1st born, however, has autism, and as I’m sure you can imagine, he’s not exactly as social and chatty as I am.

But, there’s something about this kid that makes the other kids want to be his friend; and he’ll have none of it, no way. I remember when he was a toddler I would watch as the other kids in his daycare would chase him down, yelling his name, wanting to hug him and kiss him. (Okay, he’s absolutely beautiful; maybe that’s part of the reason. And I’m not just saying that, because one time somebody stopped me on the street and said, and I quote: “He’s absolutely beautiful, and I don’t even know you, so you can quote me on that.”) It’s been like this his whole life so far: kids want to be his friend, he does not want to be theirs. He just has absolutely no interest in interacting with his peers, and in ABA we worked and worked at it for a long time. Eventually I said “why am I making him do this if it makes him miserable?” So I stopped, because if that’s what he wants, then I will honor that.

Even today, in 3rd grade, I will walk with him at school and kids will still yell out his name and a cheery hello. Instinctively I prompt him to answer, which he does, because he has learned by route that that’s what you do, but his heart is clearly not in it. At some point I suppose the kids will stop trying so hard to be his friend, and then I’m not really sure what will happen, but for now, this is just how it is.

And so, people often ask me “does he have any friends?” to which I answer “no,” and they respond with something like “oh, that’s too bad…. *sad face*…” But it’s not too bad, because it’s his choice. If he was trying and failing to have friends, then that would be too bad, but now? He’s happy being alone; he doesn’t like other kids, and that’s just the nature of the beast, as I often say (the “beast” being autism, if you hadn’t already guessed that.)

Jillsmo blogs at Yeah. Good Times…visit her there! Want to know who she is?  “I have 2 beautiful boys: Child 1 is 8 and has autism. Child 2 is 5 and OMGDOESN’T. I have this blog because lots of random shit goes through my head throughout the normal course of a day and I need a place to put it. Mostly I just ramble incoherently about nothing. I also curse a lot. Sorry, Mom.”

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How does your child respond to others trying to befriend him / her?

26 Responses to My Autistic Son Doesn’t Have Any Friends

  1. Chatty? Haven’t noticed.

    The kids may never stop trying. Remember the girl in high school who always played hard to get? You don’t? Hmmm.

    Anyhoo, my boy at 13 really doesn’t have any friends and, on some level, it upsets him. But on another level, I think he is content to consider the dozens of kids who say “hi” to him as being his friends.

  2. Its hard when we think they can react to others like we do, without being prompted. I spent years trying to be supermom of the playdate, room mom, organiser extraordinaire … then I figured she was happy just the way she was … quirky, smart, funny … aspergers or gifted, who knows, but she is doing amazing things!

    btw love the large print on your comment typing box, I can actually see everything I am typing!

  3. This was interesting to me because for a long time, the only kids that were friends with my son were kids whose moms were MY friends. To be honest, I was impressed those kids stuck it out as my kid hit and had fits. My child is still not very social and that’s his choice. It does bother us sometimes, even now, that he doesn’t try harder.

  4. seriously–do we have the same kid? My kid gets chased and talked about–he’s got groupies! And he could care…

    and Lynn–i’m with ya.

  5. Racers the same way…I have to prompt him to say hello to the handful of kids that love saying hello to him. His teacher swears that he has friends in class but I know better. And it used to bother me a lot that he didn’t have friends but I learned to let it go. He’s happy just being with himself or with his younger sisters who I know are his friends. They would follow him to the ends of the earth if he asked them too.

  6. My daughter was exactly the same. She was the most popular kid in the school. She didn’t care. She is now in 5th grade. The kids are starting to be mean and cruel. She still doesn’t care.

  7. Coleman has exactly 2 friends, and he’s good with seeing them each about once per month. :-) He’s almost 11. (Aspie)

    Julia, 6, PDD? Has maybe 3 friends now, and a bunch of kids who chase after her at church and karate. BUT from ages 0 to about 4 she would have NOTHING to do with other kids. And it wasn’t just that she didn’t want to be with them. She would scream like someone was removing a limb, and run in the other direction. :-)

    I’m a grown up Aspie with like, IDK 2 friends that aren’t relatives, and I’m good with that. A wise, wise woman recently said to me..

    “Whatever works, man.”

    ;-)

  8. Our society seems to put a lot of pressure on kids to have tons of friends. As a parent I worry about social skills and are my kids likeable? Do they “fit in”? Are they the kid that everyone wants to be friends with or the one that is always on the outside yearning to be in? I guess the reason I worry is that I don’t want their feelings to get hurt.

    It sounds like your son is quite content with the way things are, so his feelings aren’t going to be hurt. That sounds almost like a relief!

    I must qualify that my kids do not have special needs, so I don’t have quite the same perspective or challenges that a lot of you do. But, ultimately, isn’t our true hope for our kids that they find happiness? If his happiness looks different than others’, then who cares? He is happy. That is what we are all hoping for our kids.

    • Very wise Daria ~ exactly what my guru said about my son. What’s the problem? He’s not suffering. As long as he keeps a peaceful happy mind….that’s what’s most important.

  9. One of my big fears is that my son won’t have friends. It upsets me when his former playgroup friends all get together and he just does his own thing. Okay, so he’s 3. But I realize that, like you, I’m a very social person. He may not be, and thats okay, although I do hope he has meaningful relationships in his life.

  10. I sometimes think that if we just let kids be, however they are, they would turn out just fine. Then I look at my son, and I realize that if I just let him “be”, he would likely set fire to the couch.

    Child 1 may care about friends at some point, but if he’s happier being alone, it’s okay!

  11. Thanks, everybody, for your awesome comments! (Well, you know…. except for Lynn….)

    Secret Mom Thoughts: Yep, that’s exactly what I think

    Big Daddy: Chatty! It’s true! Y’know, if we could get our boys together, they would instantly be best friends; they could very well be the only two people in the world who care that much about elevator videos.

    By Word of Mouth: I spent years, too (well, like 2 years). Letting go of all that was a really good thing for both of us.

    Lynn McD: That used to be true, too, but it just became too hard for me to drag him along, unwillingly, all the time, so now I just don’t anymore

    Lynn: You’re right, though: People suck.

    Kelli: KELLI!! HI!!!! <3 <3 <3

    Dawn: Did we need any more proof that we were twins?

    Laura: Clearly you've been talking to some really smart people. ;)

    Lisa: I think teachers like to "expand" on the truth a little just to make us feel better. Either that or they're not really paying attention and they don't know. What, me cynical?

    Daria: I completely agree about societal pressure. And, special needs or not, we just want our kids to be happy; whatever that means for them as individuals.

    Ken: Wait. Is your name really Ken? Because you look a little bit like my friend JennieB. But, anyway, Ken…. It used to be my biggest fear, too. I think they'll be capable of having meaningful relationships at some point, just on their own terms, and that might not be for a long time. I guess I'll just wait.

    Tina: LOL I have no doubt that your son would set the couch on fire. If you ever want to give him up for adoption, I'll totally take him.

  12. Yes, it’s the nature of the beast. Still, we press to establish relationships between our kids and their peers. For me, it’s about “teaching” the other kids that mine is just like theirs, but with special powers (and needs). This *hopefully* will promote acceptance and understanding and squash the probability of bullying. I need my bird to become friends with a big bad-ass kid who will beat up the bullies.

  13. My daughter was totally oblivious to the whole friend thing until puberty hit and social awareness came. The kids used to flock to her and she didn’t care, now she cares and they don’t. I liked it the old way better

  14. My 12 year old son has one friend who he sits with at lunch every day and even occasionally calls on the phone and hangs out with. The other boy also has special needs and is so much like my kid. They just found each other this year so its been a major milestone for us.
    Ofcourse, since they are so much alike, they have their days where they rub each other the wrong way and neither has the social skills to understand why.

  15. My son Xavier is 17 and in the 11th grade. He has never had a friend call the house or spend the night but i can tell you he has 30 “brothers” on the wrestling team. He is on the varsity team and his brothers are his team mates that encourage him and cheer him on. No he is not in the tournaments but he participates in every practice and is at every meet. The team made a place for him and understands his needs, limitations and passion for sports. I have had EVERY team member and parent come up to say how much he has helped, encouraged or motivated their son. They just don’t know how much their son’s have helped my boy. He is one of the guys, one of the team and a brother and friend to all of them. He got his varsity jacket last week and they are going to the state championships again this year. Xavier says. “they are all my friends, it is just a matter of how close i want them. Usually about one foot below me on the mat” I love the aspie humor. Just remember they can and do choose how close they want their friends and they set the pace.

  16. Beautifully written. I can absolutely relate. My son is the same way and I just stopped fighting it. My husband and I are very outgoing people, to have a son with autism who has no interest in others took some getting used to. But our little is happy and loving (with those he’s comfortable with), so ultimately that’s all that matters.

    Following you on Network Blogs – please visit me at http://autismwonderland.blogspot.com/
    I’m also on FB

  17. my son is 9 and it breaks my heart that he never recieves a phone call for a play date. Lately he has learnt to pick up the phone and call some classmates but they never want to come over and his little heart keeps getting broken. Part of the problem is that his interests are so limited that kids do not want to play with him . All he wants to do it to play wii. He doesn’t like to go our, and he is not good at any sports.

  18. I have no freinds and I don’t really want anything to do with people. I have autism too. I don’t want freinds. I am perfectly happy alone. Really, it’s just a matter of if your child gives a damn or not. Me? I don’t give the slightest damn.

  19. Regardless of disagreements, I am glad at least you respect your son’s decision.

    Casual peer friends are a waste of time anyway. After a while, you will find that the only thing you guys have in common is the year you were born in. What is so special about that?

    Yeah, it sucks to be excluded from cliques. I’ve experienced that throughout college. But that did not stop me from going elsewhere to find people who actually share interests with me: trains, artwork, psychology, and disability rights.

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