Social difficulties/loner by choice--what do you do?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by confuzzled, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member


    i'm kind of at a loss on what to do with this. i'll preface by saying DD12 has made nothing short of amazing progress lately--so far school has been great (said in a whisper before i jinx it).

    anyway...her last big issue is social stuff. this weekend was the "playdate from heck". for reasons unknown to me, a girl is *desperate* to be mines friend. she calls semi-often to hang out with mine. so she called to hang on sat and mine was iffy on it, but i sort of made her. we originally had plans but the kid wasnt allowed to go, so we changed them on the fly to go to the park instead.

    so...(insert this is my fault here). she came home with us after the park. and literally, i couldnt get rid of her. mine wasnt overly nice to begin with, and kept insisting she wanted to be alone, which is a recurrent theme here. after 4 hours, mine had a complete meltdown--crying, saying mean things to the kid, "i dont want to be your friend" type of stuff.

    she stayed another 3 hours. :| her choice. (that was also bizarro--even husband said her homelife must really stink if she's insisting on putting up with ours)

    so obviously i was mortified. i couldnt NOT believe the behavior of mine. i could see the anxiety brewing in mine and i should have stopped it then before it got out of control. my bad. i absolutely recognize that IF there is a next time, it needs to be an organized activity with a firm time limit--an hour or two, thats it. question is,
    IS it ever ok to just isolate yourself and be a loner?
    DO i stop pushing for her to have a social outlet?
    Would you take a step back since she's insisting she doesnt "need friends"?
    am i just spinning my wheels trying to force sociability?

    i'm not sure this is a completely "unfixable" problem--she wasnt always like this. its part of what makes it seem like she's on the spectrum (seems like the poster child for it sometimes), but in her case, its actually probably *not* that. she's been in a social skills group, and its not that she doesnt know what to do, its that she seemingly can't implement it in real life--anxiety gets the best of her, regularly. while some of her issues are her, there is a huge component of learned behavior going on--our life was very isolated for a long time. because of that, mine does need her alone time. she's also the kind of kid that has (appropriate to age) alternative interests that are slightly weird to some kids--she's very artsy farty with a huge emphasis on the anime culture...what she's not is a "lets sit around and talk justin beiber" kind of girl, so that further complicates matters. her world tends to revolve around the computer--i'm actually thinking she has an actual addiction. she's pretty quiet and shy too, and has difficulty letting herself have fun.

    and i also cant exactly figure out if its this particular kid (she's lovely)....mine continues to say she DOES want to be friends, but is not ready for a "Friendship Commitment", whatever that means. but in my opinion, under no circumstances do i want to expose this kid to mines nuttiness--its just not right.

    what i do know is that i can't continue to be the only source of entertainment...she's at an age where she need to have other kids to do stuff with. she doesnt need a million of them, but one or two would be great. i cant decide if it will just happen organically when she finds the "right kid" or if its just never going to be the "right kid"--i do know i'm exhausted trying, and i really have zero idea how to encourage socialness in a 12 year old--its no longer appropriate for ME to be involved even this much.

    sorry for rambling...i wanted to give enough background.

    ps: just jinxed myself--got the dreaded, PTSD invoking, 8am school call that she just threw up and needed to come home (beats for behavior!)
  2. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I think if she was an adult? Being a longer is ok. As a kid? I think out should be good for her to have a couple friends, but that is hard as you cannot do it for her if she won't help. Are there any social skills groups around? Any activity she is interested in? I think the problem I see is if she had no friends as she gets older she will find someone to hang with and I would worry that the must accepting are not always the most desirable.
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Argh! So sorry she threw up at school. Is that anxiety or flu?

    I think she'll be okay in yrs to come. I understand about the forced play date. My son had to be forced for yrs to go to birthday parties, but he would just wander off into another room and I ended up taking him home. At our house, he sits in front of the TV or computer game and won't even walk his friends to the door. I insist that he do that or I will unplug the whole works.
    But yes, everyone, even NT extroverts, needs quiet time. Especially from a live wire like this girl whose homelife must be pretty awful.
    When things calm down ask difficult child if she's ever been to this girl's house and what it's like. Hmm.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    Still sounds like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but no matter. And while you *THINK* that she learned that isolation is OK, it's quite possible that it was in her nature to begin with, so that time you were all isolated was not a problem for her. After the age of 8, son no longer really sought out playmates. My girls on the other hand desperately sought companionship. If they didn't have a playdate or activity lined up, they wanted to most desperately to go to the park because there are ALWAYS other kids there. I think even if you weren't isolated as a family, she still would not have been seeking out friendships.

    Son has one local friend - the same one he's had since 2nd grade - that he interacts with outside of school. Since they have gotten older, and their interests have radically diverged, they hang out maybe once every six months. Son has no problem with this. Yes he would like to have more friends, but it is very difficult for him, so he's resigned himself to wait. He has joined a robotics club, and just maybe he will make some friends there.

    in my opinion your difficult child 2 sounds like she is aware of her social shortcomings and is comfortable with that. At older ages, you cannot "force" kids to be friends. This other girls sounds annoyingly desperate. She has probably alienated all the other girls already and is so desperate for friendship that she's willing to put up with a difficult child and all that drama just to have a friend. I would not keep them apart, but I would DEFINITELY set firm time limits on their playdates. It is not good for difficult child 2 to have to go into crazy meltdowns to set her limits, and then still not have those limits respected. If this other girl does not go when difficult child 2 asks her to, you MUST respect and enforce difficult child 2's limit. This does two things. Teaches this other kid, who obviously has boundary issues of her own, that SHE needs to respect other ppl's boundaries and limits, and second, shows difficult child 2 that you are sensitive to her needs and limits and will not push her too far. You may push, nudge, cajole, etc, but within reason, so difficult child 2 can relax a bit more and know you "have her back" if anxiety gets the better of her.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Please, do NOT push this on her.

    Your post SO much reminded me of ME at that age.
    I absolutely did NOT want people around.
    And it was forced on me - and the more it was forced, the more I fought back.

    I really DID need that much space. Just being around people at school all day was already more than I could handle - then to have to socialize beyond that? No way could I cope.

    Instead of focussing on the social withdrawal as something to fix... try looking at the rest of her life. Where are the "drains" happening? She's 12 - a crucial point from many angles... hormones kicking in, school work getting significantly harder.

    I'd step back, and take a look at what is happening at school. She may have some hidden issues you haven't found yet - mild motor skills problems, mild sensory issues, learning disabilities... and increased social pressure. Maybe she is finding it harder and harder to "hold it all together".

    I'm basing this both on my own experience... and on our difficult child. Anxiety and depression started with school... and were purely secondary - caused by all sorts of hidden problems that its taken 10 years to get to the bottom of. It won't take you as long - these things are more "known" now... PLEASE dig deeper.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is a tough question. Is she on the autism spectrum? My son is getting more social and reaches out more, but he has always preferred his own company and often pretended he couldn't play if kids dropped over. I'd hear him say, "Um, no, my mom won't let me play now." When I asked him about it, he'd say, "I didn't want to play with him now." He has always had a group of friends at school who have lunch together, a mixture of Special Education kids and regular geeks. But he never saw them much outside of school. Now that he is eighteen and at home, although we normally just let him be alone, aside from school (he is a senior), we also take him to Special Olympics, which was a great place for him to do an outside activity with others. I do think it's good for everyone to sometimes be with people. But you can't force a loner to be sociable. Some kids are natural social butterflies who love to be with people and some aren't. You are what you are...

    As a loner myself,who is uncomfortable around most people and has to force herself to keep in contact with friends, I also know that people w ho are intrinsically loners REALLY have to feel a connection to somebody else in order to able to enjoy their company. It can't just be "the girl who plays in the same park as mine." It has to be..."Wow, I really LIKE this person. We have a lot in common. We have good chemistry!" I'd rather be alone than with somebody I have to force myself to converse with...and feel awkward and clumsy. It's a lot like work rather than pleasure. Does this help?
  7. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    the setting a limit thing is a given. lesson learned. i am 100% positive i let her down by not sending the kid home asap--i was so befuddled by both kids i claim temporary insanity.

    its a recent recurrent theme that people seek out mine, and mine wants nothing to do with it. at all. she just wants to be'd think she was garbo herself.

    in the past, she's always had a small, but tight circle of friends. she'd be out with the neighborhood kids having a grand old time. unfortunately, we have the type of school district that itsnt conducive to fostering long-term relationships...its never the same kids from year to year. but by last year, s-l-o-w-l-y she was coming back out of her shell--going to parties, doing activities after school, etc.

    new year, new school, new people, and she's back to isolating again.

    she does work herself up into an anxiety frenzy over the most ridiculous what if's, and while i recognize its part of the disorder, its no less annoying.

    like i said, on the surface, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) seems like a no brainer. i'm the first person to agree thats what it seems like. but it really doesnt fit, for a myriad of reasons, including history, and its been rule out yet again, pretty conclusively. she's complex, and probably has comorbid issues going on, and no doubt we are still uncovering them. the labels are kind of irrelevent at this stage--we are at a place where we are addressing symptoms, not labels anymore. so we can call her a pineapple for all i care, lol...what do i DO about it?!

    i feel like i'm constantly forcing her to do whatever...even with me, i have to cajole her out of the house even though she admits she has a great time once she's there (i'm way more fun than you'd think, LOL).

    i just dont know when to stop "making her"....

    i've also come to the recent conclusion that its time to tease out what is personality and what is disorder and what is behavorial...i'm sick to death of "therapy" as its pretty much going nowhere. i need to actually focus on whats fixable and ignore whats not--i can certainly accept the fact that she's not a social animal if thats her nature.

    but its hard when she herself is so resistent to any kind of "help".

    (todays vomit fest is unknown...could have been anxiety, could have been breakfast/medications, could be a stomach virus--she's home and happily barricaded in her room, in pjs, at the computer.)
  8. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    (phone rang 3 times before i finished above post)

    thanks to all of you.

    i think insane and MWM are probably on the right track...and i think if i listen to my gut i should probably let her just be alone.

    its probably a VERY good point that it cant just be "a girl" and that it needs to be someone she really feels some kind of connection to. i think thats the most logical think i've heard in a long time.

    oh, and yeah, on top of issues, YES, she's a walking hormonal disaster--

    she's a hard kid to figure out (my other one, with 80 million legit issues, is a breeze...i can anticipate anything--he scratches his nose and i know he needs his appendix removed, lol).

    the constant changeability of her issues has been kind of a red flag for what its not.
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    I hear ya! DD1 has anxiety, and can seem Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at times, but is NOT NOT NOT.

    BUT we can treat your pineapple as if she does have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Talk her through each time. Address the anxiety by asking worst case scenario questions, and guiding her to remember how well "last time" went.

    Set a goal of one playdate per month. If other kids are seeking her out, then she's got a pool to choose from. Hopefully she can find common ground with one of them.

    Since she's been social in the past, it sounds as if she's getting stuck on getting started. in my opinion this is a severe anxiety issue and I suffer from it myself - in all aspects of life. For example: I decide I need to go grocery shopping. I'll spend two days pondering the pros and cons of going grocery shopping and then finally when there is NOTHING left to eat, I'll force myself to go only because I no longer have a choice in the matter. I do the same thing with cleaning and work and social situations. From the outside, it seems as if I just don't want to, or I'm lazy, but on the inside there is a constant conflict going on in my head - it's exhausting! I know it's more exhausting than actually doing the task I am dreading, but continually get stuck in it.

    Hopefully she can get "unstuck" and find a middle ground.

    It's also possible that puberty is playing a huge role in this. Is she developing at the same rate as her peers? This can just add to her existing anxiety and make things more difficult.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You mention "changability"... is the general trend "down" - as in, more issues? Or... up and down like crazy, no trend?
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'd avoid enforcing social contact. Evidently she gets along well at school and has characteristics that draw others to least on occasion. She knows how to socialize. She knows how to blend into her school. That may be all the contact she wants or needs right now.

    I would, however, keep my eyes and ears open for a group that might appeal to her that meets on occasion. We have youth art groups, for example, who get together monthly I think. If a group is found with limited requirements and a topic or cause of interest...I'd share the opportunity to try it with her.

    LOL, keep in mind that I have not raised a brood of easy child's but I'm batting over 50%. Hugs. DDD

    PS: My parents often thought that some kid would be a perfect friend for me because they were clean and mannerly and came from a nice home. Most often I knew they were not as they appeared!
  12. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    changeable ::biggrin::

    she wasnt diagnosis'd with squat until 10.

    over the last two years, onset of puberty. on the whole, downward trend, with the occasional upswing tossed in to confuse me more.

    she's had to deal with some significant trauma in those two years as well, hence the anxiety disorder. i say she has lousy coping skills, but honestly, thats really not the truth--a lesser woman would have broke sooner. and i cant tell you what a self esteem blow its been to be dragged from dr to dr to find out "whats wrong with her"...until then, she thought she was on top of the world (and was).

    keista has a point too, that the difficulty is in the "getting started"...i cant tell you how many times she was going to do X, and the time comes, and she doesnt. for example, she's had multiple teachers pretty much beg her to do a certain thing and she was all excited to do so...until. but she's already talking about the next opportunity to do it...and is convinced she's a shoe-in (dumbfoundedly, she's probably right, she has crazy talent in some areas according to other people...husband and i, who live with it, don't quite get what others see sometimes).

    i absolutely ::hate:: this age.
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi there. That is a tricky one and it sounds like you may be in the end answering your own question, maybe feel comfortable with a little of her having her time and a little of her having some chances to learn to be more comfortable in socializing?? I took care of a little one once who was a "loner" much of the time. She told me once after encouraging her to join some little girls who were playing, "you know, just because I am alone doesn't mean I am lonely." So what are her goals? Will she be honest (or like many teens....I'm FINE mom!)?

    I know one aspie and one non aspie-but with a few social issues that affect school/friends both really into anime. both attend all the conferences. I have heard many kids in my difficult child's school Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) class are interested in all of the Japanese art and even culture, music etc. So is there any kind of group/club she can join for that? Could she start one? Just throwing it out there, smile.
    I would keep providing opportunities with her input until other signs say it would absolutely not be a good idea. When she is older she can decide to keep working on it or take break. I like your realizing it may need to be shorter planned outings though. Nice balance. Best to you, Buddy
  14. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    ROFLMAO @ DDD...

    aint that the truth.

    my parents always wanted me to be friends with those "nice catholic school girls".....

    who knew where to get more drugs than a pharmacist, had more sex than a prostitute, and lied, cheated and stole like a convicted felon.

    maybe my kid instinctively knows something i dont...
  15. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    she *is* in a GIGANTIC anime club--unfortunately most kids are significantly older than her. not that thats a huge problem, but there is a maturity issue automatically built in. (they just seperated out the 18 and up crowd finally, so that might change). she's kind of just "there" tho...she's not initiating with them either really....although she was recently blabbering on about this one girl from another state that she met in real life.

    and i am <s>dragging myself</s> taking her to the Con on sat.

    even though i dont get "it" i do foster any interest she has, no matter how off the beaten path....

    now if i can just find my vocaloid ears we'll be good to go (i told you i was actually fun, ROFL)
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    But when did YOU notice the issues?

    (I'm trying to piece this together...)
  17. buddy

    buddy New Member

    hahaha! I know, I volunteered to work with the Aspie who was into it (cant be in school due to all of her anxieties) and I too learned to appreciate it. Maybe she can start a local group...if it is like around here there would be some kids her age to hang out with... Imagine an anime halloween party!
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I absolutely do not think anyone should push her toward any group. JMO, but a lot of loners, do not enjoy them at all. I like one-one time with people I care about and can relate to rather than the mindless small tall and gossip that goes on in groups. I think one close friend is enough, actually, and she has to find the right one or two or three or group SHE feels connected to or she will just spend her entire time with them wishing that she was at home. I used to watch cliques at school and wonder why they wanted to be friends, since they fought and backbit and were not nice to one another a lot of the time. Trust me...if you she is drawn to this, it is best to allow her to avoid it. Even as an adult, groups can be very catty and just not fun, at least for people like me.

    by the way, I'm another one who has many Aspie traits, but no diagnosis of Aspergers. I have similar social issues to Aspies, but not the obsessions, lack of imagination, problem with abstract reasoning etc. One can be very similar to an Aspie, but not fit in even with other So I kind of get where confuzzled is coming from with her daughter. I love all of you, but if I ever meet you in a group setting it will be very hard for me. It won't be hard to talk to anyone one-one, but the group part...intimidating and awkward, even though I like ya.
  19. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    for insane: (LONG)

    ummm...good question.


    didnt see it. even at 10.

    it was the school who forced my hand to hospitalize her (trauma #3)... because they felt she was having auditory this day, i still dont know that it was the right thing to do, or if that was even close to what was going on, other than she was in need of some kind of services. we were at the mercy of an overzealous school psychiatrist--who, at the time, would not admit that there was a correlation between what was happening and school (it wasnt abuse, it was a combination of GIGANTIC stressors, and it affected several of them--mine was just the most affected). i cant stress the overzealous part enough--as time went on, such lunacy came out of her mouth that someone probably should have committed her. but i trusted her, had no real reason at the time to not believe her...and my difficult child 2 paid the price, heavily.

    hindsight is 20/20.

    now, even at 12, even with the isolation issues, even after all thats happened, dont see it.

    what i saw before? queen of her universe, everything came easily to her, confident, smart--made life look effortless. some mild behavioral issues---*we* did some stupid school things in retrospect...pushing her three years up in reading (reads/comprehends on a college level), not thinking about the fact that there was nowhere to go afterward and having to put her back to her age related class, VERY active--she never stopped. physically or mentally. she also is a nice kid--not a mean bone in her this day, people are very drawn to her.

    what i see now is a very bright kid on the quirky side (again, anime vs the beibster), hugely talented in all the facets of the arts, with some boredom issues and some frustration issues. i see someone who doesnt handle stress at that well, with seemingly little ability for self talk. she's has a very negative self image these days. she has zero self confidence. i see someone who was pretty shaped by their homelife and life with a seriously disabled sibling. i also see someone who has hugely benefitted from a classic, organized, standard curriculum in which you master (actually, are just taught) pre-requisites before moving on....its been life changing for her right now....i see a slow comeback of a trickle of the old self confidence.

    what we know now is that she has some executive function issues, some fine motor issues, huge boredom issues, quickly processes everything, slower to output things (fine motor related) depression/anxiety issues, vitamin deficiency issues, hormonal issues, definite cognitive dulling and short term memory issues thanks to abilify and probably more that i've forgot. She herself complains regularly of being "less creative", and i believe her. we also think there are some underlying attentional issues that have always been present--to date, we assumed they were a sx, not a stand-alone. we are strongly considering revisiting it after we wean off abilify since, if it was a sx, it should really have disappeared by now.

    no problems with transistion. no problems with communication. no obvious social blunders/ineptness on the whole...she comes off maybe a bit aloof, which seemingly reads as "cool" in some alternative teen universe. no real obsessions--i wouldnt even call anime more than an interest. i also find there is some truth in the idea that kids are great equalizers...i cant imagine, at this age, if there was a blatant issue, that kids would continue to seek her out. (they are too old to "mother", at this point, they just cant be bothered and would ignore vs engage)

    i've had her evaluation'd by an army of professionals. currently waiting on the most recent np written report in which they rule out spectrum stuff (adamantly). we also rule out Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).

    it ain't my first rodeo either. if anything, i have to force myself to look for the typical teen vs assuming sx's...i tend to assume there is an issue when sometimes there just isnt.

    i also know that, in her mind, frustration/meltdowns are directly related to "i told someone i couldnt/wouldnt/unable and they made me anyway"...particularly related to school issues. in her mind, self-advocacy=stopping of whatever annoying thing they are trying to make me do (write the umpteenth 2 page essay, do 150 math problems, etc)....not we will find a different way to do it--it should just cease.

    which is most likely the reason this playdate spiralled out of control...she did say she wanted her to go home so she could be alone, and we didnt "hear" her.

    its a recurrent theme for her.

    she might have a few toes in the ultra-violet, but she's not.even.close to a frank presentation.
  20. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    well, i just read MWM last post.

    she summed up my difficult child EXACTLY.

    i do mean, exactly.

    and much more concisely than i ever could.

    (i was typing my novel above while she was posting)...

    mine is always neutral switerland, more because she could care less about girl drama, not that she doesnt get it. mine is empathetic and has theory of mind. mine hates small talk, on the whole. and mine would probably not want to hang with her internet compadres either.

    so mwm, if you want a mini-me--i'll stick a stamp on her and send her your way :-D