Feeling sad for difficult child



I feel so sad for difficult child. He has so much trouble with friends. He use to attend a Friday night skating event, now he won't go. the last time he went he called crying, asked to be picked up. This was quite a while ago and wouldn't tell us why at the time. Tonight he told me that he isn't "cool" everyone tells him that. The last time he went skating, everyone asked him why he was there, that nobody wanted him there and called him names.

He has few friends. But what really gets me is that these kids will talk to him, they will make plans with him, and never call. Today he sat at home, never stepped outside because someone was suppose to come over. Kid never showed, never called. He called another boy, who was out with others at the time but said he would call when he got home. No call.

I do not understand. difficult child gets his hopes up, has all these plans and the kids never even call. If they don't want to come over, or do things with difficult child why don't they just say no. Why would they say yes, then never even bother to call.

difficult child went to a "lock-in" tonight all alone. He likes this place, and says he is familiar with many of the kids, but don't really know them. We were real hesitant to let him go. But husband went there at midnight to meet with him (check that things are ok). difficult child called me a short time ago to check in and let me know all is ok and he is having a good time. He will be online to talk to me, and said he will call me every two hours. (I am at work).
We also instructed him to call at anytime and we would pick him up.
I just feel so bad that he waits and waits and has his hopes up and the others never even call.


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Kids who tell him he's not welcome, that he shouldn't be there, who call him names, who make arrangements and then deliberately fail to follow through - that is bullying. It is unacceptable. They are not friends.

difficult child should be encouraged to not rely on kids who have done this to him, but to also not put any value in anything they say about him either. He is worth more than that.

Interesting, that the 'lock-down' is fine, but his 'friends' are not. We find similar things with difficult child 3 - in our own neighbourhood, we have to watch out for difficult child 3 because he gets picked on badly. But away from home, playing or meeting with total strangers, he gets on much better.

My theory - the local kids have learnt (at school, mostly) that they can bully difficult child 3 and get away with it. We tend, as parents, to expect the worst of our child in a neighbourhood confrontation. "What did my kid do NOW?" The other kids learn this and work out that if THEY goad difficult child enough, it will be difficult child who gets into trouble and not them. They can sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Making another kid lose his temper is fun, for kids like this. Plus, there is that sense of "I don't want that weird kid hanging around, he gives me the creeps" kind of stuff.

Since we've been proactively supporting difficult child 3, we've had fewer problems. When we learn of an encounter or problem, we go and sort it with the kid and family ourselves. We listen, find out if maybe difficult child 3 misunderstood, we explain to the parents and the other kids so they have a better understanding, and we ask for kindness and consideration in the future. difficult child 3 can be a very loyal friend. That is the bonus for a kid who befriends him. But to have me as an enemy - not a good idea.

For a long time, I was hard on difficult child 3 when there was a problem and he didn't do exactly everything just right. For example, if he was needled, hassled and teased to breaking point, I would be critical of the kids hassling him but unable to take things further because difficult child 3 had eventually hit back. Then we had an incident at the beach - for some days, a group of kids had been teasing difficult child 3, actually following him when he moved away from them, and continuing the taunts. We couldn't hear what was said over the sound of the surf, but when we called difficult child 3 to come home and he was halfway over to us, he suddenly turned back, ran to these kids, knocked one of them down and began to pummel him hard. difficult child 3, having lost his temper, was not pulling his punches.
husband ran over and dragged difficult child 3 off the kid. I expected husband to shout at difficult child 3 for starting the fight, but instead he turned to the other kid and the rest of the gang, still hanging around. "That served you right," he told them. "I've been watching you - you wouldn't leave him alone, you've been hounding him, hassling him and been mean for days. Now he's finally snapped and you brought it on yourselves. Now get away from him before I get the names of your parents and go and tell them what you've been up to!"

That's when I realised I had set much higher standards for difficult child 3 than other parents set for their kids. Other kids had worked this out and were playing the game to their advantage.
The other interesting thing - difficult child 3 now had a better idea of his own limits.

And those boys never bothered him again. The expected calls from other parents never eventuated (they were probably too scared of what we might say).

It's extra hard when difficult children can't really comprehend the rules of friendship. What is a friend? What makes a person friendly? What do you think when a person does or says something mean, but still sys he's your friend? Teaching difficult child 3 to notice actions rather than words is tricky, but we've had to get this across - a friend will not want to upset you or hurt you. They do not want to make you sad or unhappy. They will always be your friend, not just for this day, or that day. Someone who is mean a lot of the time, and only says that he's your friend because you're about to tell a teacher, is not a friend.

I write it out and stick it up behind the toilet door, where a lot of time is spent contemplating the universe.

I know you don't think he's Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), but crikey, he sure sounds it to me. It makes a darn good working hypothesis.



difficult child would be such a loyal friend. He yearns for a one on one friend. Someone he can be close to. He has let kids pick on him, call him names, make fun of him, just so he can have a friend. More than once we were called by him to pick him up, as others were making fun of him. Yet he continued to call them his friends. I tried to explain that if they were his friends, they wouldn't do that. Seems as if they do things to try to make him upset, lose control, then sit back and watch him take the blame. Especially at school. I finally learned last year, when I would get a call from school and told what he did, or suppose to have done, my very first question was, "what happened prior to this?" When I learned what led up to the incident, I would of reacted the same way. The others, who continue to do these things to him do not get punished in anyway, however difficult child would get in school suspension for losing his temper. Even teachers would do things that would deliberatly set him off. At one point I looked at the vice principal and asked him if he would be upset if that happened to him. No response.
Today when I mentioned a kid who he claimed was his good friend, difficult child replied that he is a jerk, he always makes fun of him. difficult child always took it, because he wanted a friend so badly. It really makes me angry when kids say they will come over, ask him to come over, make plans and then disappear leaving difficult child alone. Why don't they just tell him no?
difficult child DID admit that when he was in the "IN" group, he too participated in shunning others and telling them they are not wanted there. I was not aware of that. Hopefully with what has been going on with him, he has learned to consider other's feelings before he says things like that again.
Tomorrow night he is invited to a birthday party. A girl who was on his baseball team last year. He is a little aprehensive about going, afraid he won't know anyone. But still wants to go.
He does get along so much better with kids that are older, or younger rather than kids his own age. Also gets along much better with kids when they have not been in class together, rather an aquaintence rather than someone who actually knows him.
I have talked to him twice tonight so far. Says he is enjoying himself, playing games with others.
He was disappointed when neurologist said he has not reached his growing spurt, or puberty. difficult child insists that all other boys in his grade and younger have grown and are in puberty. (that word embarrasses him and we are not allowed to use it)
My older son is fair in complection(sp?) and still at age 24 could never grow a beard or mustache. difficult child however is much darker in complection(sp?), husband is darker and hopefully difficult child won't have to wait until college to grow. (if he makes it there) That is when easy child finally grew. However easy child is husband's stepson.
I don't know what the kids say to him, he insists they tell him he is fat..I find that hard to believe. He really can be a loving kid, and would be a very loyal friend. Too bad he lets others walk all over him. He still has a lot of anger, but has been handling it much better. Gets too excited about things and that is when he starts acting goofy. When he is excited about things he tells me his heart is beating really fast. Even just watching a baseball game.
I on the other hand I have not handled my anger very well recently. Blowing up over such little things. Started HRT (patch) on Thursday. Very low dose at this time, sure hope it helps.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

In the midst of all this turmoil, has difficult child ever attended a class on social skills? Learning to read body language & other things? The classes kt & wm have attended have taught them appropriate responses, some impulse control around peers & when to recognize they are "being used", for lack of a better term. I fear wm will always have that 12 y/o goofiness - the need to be center of attention & set himself up for teasing & such.

Kids at this age are mean enough - they tend to roam in a pack mentality & go after the "weakest" of the pack (can't think of a better way to put it).

In the meantime, if difficult child continues to be so fixated on being "fat", can you or husband work with him on healthy eating choices; control over eating matters. How about an exercise program together with dad?

I cannot speak to the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) spectrum issues, however Marg does have a good feel for this.


I have asked at school, at psychiatrist, at therapist, at pediatrician about a social skills group/class. Nobody seems to know what I am talking about. Makes me wonder if I am not using the correct language.
difficult child has extraordinary speaking skills. He could carry on a conversation with a stranger, better with adults. He can talk many adults under the table on sports, and other topics he knows so much about. He watches ESPN most of the time. He is like a sponge, sucking up everything that is said and rarely forgets it. easy child calls him to ask him about certain people. Makes sense on his testing last year that auditory skills were so high. He just has this outstanding memory, and he uses that information and talks to complete strangers about so many things. He has excellent eye contact, no development delays of any kind. He can read body language. I only have to give him a look and he knows exactly what I mean. Then again, he has anger issues and he can blow up in a split second and be this kid you just don't know. He has been so much better with that though. Does tend to correct people a lot, and that gets so annoying. Trying so hard to tell him just to let people be right, or think they are right. Whatever. Because when he corrects everyone he comes accross like he is putting them down and he knows everything.
Maybe I am not clear on Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), but I was under the impression there were certain development/speach delays. He actually started talking in sentences at 15 months...and hasn't stopped.
He did have some pretty traumatic experiences around age 2. That is exactly when all this anger/anxiety started showing. I often wonder if those experiences are what triggered all his issues. Sensitivity to noise also from an early age. Much better now. Was a time he would not enter a fast food restaurant because of the buzzer on the french fry machine. He heard echoes when people talked, but taking his tonsils out seemed to have fixed that. Much better, still some sensitivity where he covers his ears and doesn't even know he does it.


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PDDd is a bit more unusual than I think you realise. You said, "difficult child has extraordinary speaking skills. He could carry on a conversation with a stranger, better with adults. He can talk many adults under the table on sports, and other topics he knows so much about."

difficult child 3 genuinely fits the bill, despite seeming not to at first glance.
difficult child 3 makes good eye contact. He will initiate a conversation with a total stranger, especially on a topic he feels confident with. In public he is polite, well-mannered, friendly and outgoing.
So what makes difficult child 3 autistic?
In his case, it's the other stuff. Broadly speaking, autism is defines as inappropriate or disordered social interaction, some level of disordered sensory input; some level of delayed language development.

The delayed language development is not found in Asperger's Syndrome, as it's defined down under (and some other places). Also, delayed language development is not the same as delayed speech, difficult child 3 could speak, but he made no sense. He could mimic entire songs, film scripts etc but not understand what he was saying. As he learnt to read he understood the rules of phonics and could make a good stab at pronunciation, but not understand a word of it. It was weird. We went through patterns of jargon speech (aka 'talking in scribble' as defined by his big sister); then echolalia, where he would repeat chucks of dialogue he'd heard, as well as merely repeat what he'd been asked instead of answering. For difficult child 3, as he acquired proper language (ie with understanding) we found his speech to be extremely precise. At an age when most kids still have some difficulty pronouncing "th", for example, difficult child 3 was meticulous. He could read the words, so he knew there should be a "th" sound there, so he went to great effort to say it properly. People commented on how clearly and well he spoke, at age 6. But at age 6, he still had limited understanding of words like "why" and "how".

Now - he's halfway to a law degree, it seems. He's very articulate, very talkative, has an amazing vocabulary that would put a lot of adults to shame. he sounds like a walking thesaurus. But this is also part of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) - the obsessive-compulsive side.

What is it about difficult child 3 that is still obviously Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)? The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) - fussy about certain textures, certain foods and has a poor response to pain. His body awareness in general is odd - he was difficult to toilet train because he really had trouble being able to recognise when his body needed to go to the toilet. He still has trouble with this - we have to remind him to go. The extreme anxiety - he's learning to overcome it, but it's a problem.

Part of the disordered social interaction (and from your descriptions, your difficult child has this too) is he simply doesn't recognise any difference between talking to another child his age, or talking to an adult in authority. If a child is being verbally mean, difficult child will say mean things back. If he perceives an adult being mean - same result. They do not differentiate. They simply can't manage on the same wavelength as others their own age. difficult child 3 gets on well with adults, who find his conversation and lack of self-consciousness stimulating, but he also gets on well with much younger kids. His best friend is 9. He has several friends the same age.

The other interesting thing - what they receive, they dish out. So if you meet anger with anger, or shouting with shouting, it's telling them, "So THIS is how it's done!" These kids are very smart but they're trying to work out the social rules all on their own. We might TELL them, "Don't be rude to your teachers. Don't hit back." But what they SEE is different. A teacher is rude to him - he will be rude back, because if an adult in authority acts this way, they are the role model to emulate. Clearly the rule he has been told doesn't quite match the reality.

It's really hard for me to look at difficult child 3 and describe what it is about him that is abnormal, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I'm used to him. Plus, he's doing his best to adapt. I live with it, I have trouble seeing where one begins and the other leaves off.

difficult child 3 is autistic. difficult child 1 is Asperger's Syndrome. difficult child 1 had NO language delay, but crikey, did he sure have other problems! Still, he wasn't diagnosed until he was 15.
difficult child 1 was withdrawn in some social situations, unlike difficult child 3.
When a toddler, we discovered difficult child 1 was terrified of animals, and of water. He would drink water but he wouldn't let his head go near it. He went years, literally, not having his hair washed with anything more than a washcloth. This fear was extreme - he would get hysterical. And we could find no reason for it, he hadn't been traumatised or anything.
When he was a little older and it was his birthday, people wanted to wish him Happy Birthday. That was OK - but to stand in front of everyone while they sang happy Birthday to him - he would curl up in a ball on the floor. difficult child 3 never did that, he never had a problem with it. All these kids are different.
difficult child 1 wouldn't give a talk to the class, until he was 10. difficult child 3 was happy to play the piano in front of the whole school, he wasn't nervous at all. He would be now; in his drama class last Christmas, he had to play the King in "The King's Breakfast" by A A Milne. This king is a bit like a spoiled child and difficult child 3 became so anxious we had to pull him out of the play. He was finally able to at least partly explain - he knew it was just acting, he understood that. But it is so hard for difficult child 3 to always concentrate on being good, on being nice and kind, he has to work so hard at it and still people too often see him as a problem. If he played a character who was not very nice, what would people think of HIM? And how could he go so far against what he was determined his own nature must be? Now that's complex, for difficult child 3. Later, in the movie, he was able to play Noah because "Noah was the original wildlife warrior".

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids are often very smart. Temple Grandin (her books are worth reading) described autism especially, as "an overdose of genius". These kids have in large measure, what in small measure would produce genius.

I used to think, with difficult child 1, that a lot of his problems were connected with disordered sensory input. He had a great deal of trouble filtering out the distractions of the world. We put on a shirt, and within a few minutes our skin touch receptors have adjusted to not 'feel' the shirt any more. Not with difficult child 1. Any adjustment is mild, he's constantly having to readjust. And it's the same with a lot of other things - noises, light, information. Imagine looking at the world as through a shattered stained glass window, hearing the world with iPod speakers blaring six different tunes simultaneously, vibrations all around you disturbing your balance and the constant fear that people are looking at you critically and about to hurt you or laugh at you.
That's difficult child 1.
On top of this, any TV show that we know he's watched; any book he's read, and difficult child 1 can quote verbatim. difficult child 3 is similar.

So very recently it was believed that autistic kids (I guess I'm including all Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) here) were not all that smart; they only SEEMED smart in the same way a talking parrot seems smarter than it is. They may have a brain load of information, but they can't use it.
Not true. Increasingly, we know that now. On Thursday difficult child 3 & I were watching a Science for Schools TV program on the Periodic Table. He's not covered this in school yet; just beginning to. But on the TV they were discussing the increasing densities of the Noble Gases as you go down the Periodic Table. difficult child 3 was saying, "So the extra protons, and the extra, filled electron shells mean that each atom is heavier and so it's more dense." He then asked, "What about the density of hydrogen? I suppose that's lighter than helium? So why don't we put hydrogen in balloons?"
I told him about the Hindenburg disaster, and also a poem I know by Hilaire Belloc ("George") which refers to a balloon "being of the dangerous sort" which got into a candle flame and exploded. He was then trying to work out how you could get hydrogen gas into a soap bubble.
This is a kid who USES the information he has in his head.

Kjs, I can't diagnose your difficult child for you. But a lot of the reasons you give for him NOT being Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) - difficult child 1 has the same things and he IS a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid.

Keep an open mind. And also, simply because it sounds like he's functioning that way, make contact with an autism network in your area and ask if THEY have any social skills programs for kids with extremely high-functioning autism.

difficult child 1 scores Mild on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) score. difficult child 3 scores Moderate. But I believe difficult child 3 has a better prognosis, for a number of reasons. difficult child 1 lasted in mainstream school most of the way. easy child 2/difficult child 2, who is, we believe, definitely Asperger's but Mid on the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) scale, managed to go all the way through mainstream. difficult child 3,s anxiety and extreme perseveration and Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) issues plus the bullying, meant that he couldn't cope. There is now a school I could send him to, but he's doing so well now I don't want to change that.

Different kids manifest this in different ways. but there are some features in common. Somewhere in cyberspace there is a document written by Tony Attwood, on the gifts inherent in Asperger's Syndrome. They include things like perseverance, loyalty, extremely law-abiding (to their own laws, if nothing else), a good friend who will stick by you no matter what, intelligence, etc. One of the hallmarks of Asperger's is also the fascination with certain subject(s) to extreme level, and a need to share this with as many others as possible! Computer games, certain topics like Star Wars for difficult child 1, Star Trek for a young man we met at Social Skills class (he played a panda in the movie); stamp collecting etc. The interests can change with time. easy child 2/difficult child 2 was obsessed with teddy bears. She declared she was going to collect one of every kid of teddy in the world. She would keep them in a teddy-bear-shaped house. The teddy eyes would be twin observatories, looking out onto the stars (in search of more teddies?).
She's no longer so obsessed with teddies. Now it's Pirates of the Caribbean. Everything old-fashioned and romantic. She wears tight corsets because she says "it's like wearing a hug".
difficult child 1 was given for his 21st, by his friends, a ticket to the Premiere of the final Star Wars movie at Fox Studios in Sydney. He went in costume (as a Sith Jedi) and broke a $300 light saber.

And they're all wonderful, in their own way. I keep telling myself that through every meltdown, and the moments in between do make it all worthwhile.


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
It's no fun when our difficult children struggle with friends especially during the teenage years. I hate how mean kids can be to one another. I'm glad he is at the lock-in and having fun. It's amazing to me that the school doesn't know what you mean when you ask for a social skills group-they need to get with the times! It sounds like he could also benefit from some anger management lessons-I would think the school could also provide that. It sounds like your school has a long way to go on controlling bullying especially if the teachers are doing things to set difficult child off. If it were me I would definitely meet with the teacher before school starts and talk about his triggers so they know what not to do.


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I'm feeling your pain - Aspergers might be something you might want to investigate.

We're going thru the whole neuropsychologist endeavor now, but she told me that both difficult child 1 and 2 have Aspergers. One was speaking short sentances (I want that) at 10 mos. Two had a speech delay that he's STILL getting services for.

The syndrome is sort of a buffet experience. You go in, pick from a bunch of different things, but it's still called dinner. One chose from one menu and the other is picking from a totally different restaurant!!! lol

Both are super intelligent, but they've gotten a smattering of pretty much everything. If you list both of their manifestations, you've almost run the gamut!

Makes for an interesting dinner table!

Take a look at some of the books on social skills classes. There's one called social stories that was a little too basic for us, but I'm trying to build my own based on the structure.

Hope this helps!



Boy, you got that right. "a totally different restaurant" lol.

That is so funny, but so true.

I did mention all these things to psychiatrist. He just doesn't seem to think anything of it. Just says he CAN do good if he chooses to.

He is through a large hospital, board certified, but told me a neuropsychologist is a waste of money!

just a show of support here. I am going through the same here. I have a feeling that difficult child may have Aspergers. Psychiatrist says no, of course he does not live with her. I am trying to get her in for a multi-disciplinary evaluation (just looking for a place that will work with medicaid).

Keep an open mind.


My insurance will cover Childrens Hospital in Milwaukee, but psychiatrist still says no. I do not understand. If it is what I want, why wouldn't he refer him so we can get him the help he needs.


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Just an opinion (everyone has one, just like everyone has an...well, you know!):

I have found that whenever someone has told me that they can control themselves "if they want to" I just about shut down on that person. See, why wouldn't they want to? Being shunned, disciplined, left out, ignored and ridiculed seems like fun? I think not. Kids like your difficult child really want to be accepted AND respected but don't know how. I'm reading a book right now (how I wish it was Harry Potter or something else :smile: ) that's called "Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments". It's very insightful both for home and school. Basically it helps understand the stages of meltdowns, the types of behaviors, ways to avoid a "rage" episode, how to recover from a rage episode, and how to turn it into a learning experience. It's giving me ideas. As BBK often says I'm "taking what can help, and leaving the rest!"

Also, when someone also says that a neuropsychologist is a waste of money, yet he still hasn't come up with a definative way to handle difficult child, it makes me feel that he's someone who's trained or who has more experience dealing with different issues (ie: divorce, death, abuse, etc. in the typical teen). Your son can't be a cookie cutter kid because he broke the mold ! :thumb:

It never hurts to check around!

by the way: BBK: We're on medicaid and we found a research institute that does neuropsychologist's on a sliding scale. It was based on our taxable income of 2006 (nil!) and was very affordable (nil!). Try checking thru different research groups - most ins. co's don't know what they do, but we found a lot of talented people who were willing to help!

Good luck guys!


Active Member
Hi! Here's a neat link: they have all kinds of studies and research going on. Don't know if it'll help...


I just searched: Chicago neuropsychologists.

Thank you for that link, Beth. And yes, I did originally get a referral from the GP. He referred me to Loyola, then University of Chicago (the 2 big university hospitals in the area) and finally Children's memorial. It was after talking to Children's that I was told that ALL the hospitals stopped taking medicaid for neuropsychologist testing. After going back to my GP for the 4th time, he told me he had nobody else to refer me to and I would need to go out of pocket.

On a hunch, I called up my older difficult child's old psychiatrist. He agreed to see her monthly on medicaid at the community clinic wihout going through the normal 8 month wait, God bless the man. So I was able to at least see him. I will follow up on thw link you posted though. Thank you again!

PS I love your new avatar! :wink:


Well-Known Member
I agree with Meg and anyone who says social skills class/training. I also think he should be tested for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and for that you'd need a neuropsychologist. Not all Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids have speech delays and once they start talking even if they do (like my son) they almost come across as "Little Professors" on their particular obessions. They tend to have narrow interests and know EVERYTLHLING about those interests. My son can babble, in a very professor-like way, about videogames. He knows when each game came out, every single character, etc. He does one-way-speaking more than allowing feedback from others, which gets in the way of friendship, but is pretty much only interested in his own obsessions. Other than that, he gives "yes" "no" answers or says "I don't want to talk about it." He has a lot of trouble expressing himself even with a large vocabulary. He has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified (autistic traits) so he is a little "less" autistic than some kids...lol...whatever that means. He, unlike some spectrum kids, seems happy just interacting at school and hanging alone once school is over. His sister is Miss Sociability and he doesn't seem bothered or jealous. He talks more easily to adults or younger kids--which is typical of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I'm not saying he has it, but I'd want to check it out. Until we did, we thought we had ADHD/ODD/bipolar and our son did NOT improve until he got the right diagnosis. Cover all your bases. See a neuropsychologist. A psychiatrist is unlikely to catch Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Ours swears, even now, that LUcas is bipolar. I think it's his pride. This is a small town, he has a big name, and we run into him. He still thinks it's a mistake to have taken him off his twenty five medications. The fact that Lucas is obviously functioning so well after being off medications for four years doesn't faze him. He won't take his diagnosis back...lol. Lucas seems to have "come to" after being medicated for so many years and doesn't have moodswings. Many Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids *do* have moondswings though. Anyways, whatever you decide, good luck.


Active Member
I called the insurance company and found I didn't need a referral. Make sure you actually need the referral. More testing (or a second voice) can't hurt.