In many ways I’ve been dreading Blossom’s adolescence. Not only does her Asperger’s mean that the normal strum and drang of the adolescent brain become even more erratically dramatic, it also means that trouble with her peers is nearly inevitable. I hate that.
Autism in females presents both differently from males, and in several different behavior anomalies, which is why it is such a bugger to get diagnosed in girls and women. Blossom has the autistic commonalities of sensory dysfunction, meltdowns, and poor executive functioning, plus her own particular cluster of oddities. She is a 1) little professor and 2) escapes deeply into imaginative play and 3) gregarious with almost no social boundaries and absolutely no intuitive understanding of other people’s boundaries.
Blossom’s meltdowns are rare enough (thanks to learned coping mechanisms!) that the social boundaries thing is the most problematic when it comes to her peers. She doesn’t know what is okay and not-okay to talk about. For example, one of her great-uncle’s asked her, “What’s new?” and she replied, “Well, I have breast buds and am in the early stages of puberty; that’s new.” She was telling the truth and was being polite, but it was still the entirely wrong thing to say. She does that sort of thing to her classmates, too. Moreover, her friendliness means she is more prone to TRY to communicate, and therefore less able to “cloak” herself in normal actions like a quieter Asper-girl could. Her weirdness is readily available for viewing.
She also doesn’t know when to let a topic go, or how to talk about something that bores her just because a friend is interested and wants to share, and cannot tell when someone else is so sick of hearing her go on and on and on and on about a topic SHE finds fascinating but they don’t that the listener is ready to set themselves on fire in order to END the conversation.
When she was younger, it wasn’t as problematic because her peers hadn’t outstripped her socially by very much yet. Now that the preteens know ‘how to act’ and she doesn’t, the gulf between them grows daily. I saw the first sign of a problem when her birthday party was very under-attended as a percentage of people invited. Sure enough, yesterday she started crying and told me she doesn’t feel like she has any friends.
Ah, the hell that is social isolation. It isn’t as nightmarish as being bullied, but it still HURTS.
The last female friend in her class she hung out with has abandoned ship in favor of a new ‘best friend’. Blossom still has friends she can hang out with on the playground from different classes, but she feels very alone in the classroom. There is a boy in the class whom she is friends with, but they don’t hang out together much because there is too much expectation that they be social mainly within their gendered group. Blossom has started reading a lot during unstructured time, because she is not welcome in social groupings the other girls form.
I hate it. I hate hate HATE HATE it. I went through the same thing for the same reasons when I was Blossom’s age and VIVIDLY remember the confusion, loneliness, and pain it caused. My child is suffering and I cannot make it STOP. *helpless rage crying*
I am doing all I can to help, of course. We are going over her workbooks and helpful websites that teach Asperger girls social techniques to make friends. I invite her non-school friends over as often as possible. But still, I cannot just make it STOP hurting her. Frankly, I do not like that. Not one little bit.
My poor little Blossom. Mommy wishes she could make everything all better. Mommy wishes she could prevent it from growing worse.