Asperger's Daughter - Need Advice Asap

Updated on October 12, 2012
D.B. asks from Eastlake, CO
11 answers

Ladies, I am currently in a cold sweat and really need some calming and straight forward advise. My 13 y.o. dd has aspergers. She is very awkward socially and has trouble reading people (obviously, this is the thing about aspergers. Just laying ground work.) She has always been awkward around boys and I understand that. It's tough to deal with them when you have problems communicating and understanding even your female friends.

Well, now she thinks she is a lesbian and i found out tonight she's been in a 'relationship' with a classmate for 3 weeks. Yes, I am freaking out. I'd be freaking out if it was a boy or a girl - because she isn't capable of handling any type of 'relationship' other than a casual friendship in controlled social settings. And even that is very tough for her! I know she sees all her peers, settling with boyfriends and this age and I'm sure she is very confused and wants something similar, and a girl is much easier to relate to at this point.

I suspected something was up a few weeks ago when a male classmate got suspended for calling her a lesbian on 2 separate occasions. Usually there is some sort of basis for comments like that.

She does not know I know. But she left enough clues around (i think purposely tonight - she left something obvious sitting out) for me to find out, and tonight I got concrete confirmation from the other girl. There has been no 'hanky panky' because they never see each other outside of school. We live in a really small town so I'm sure nothing was going on at school either.

Ladies, I'm freaking out. I don't know what to do. I have half a mind to move her to another school tomorrow and break this 'relationship' off. I don't think the other girl is being predatory - she's felt this way about my daughter for 3 years now.

Please give me some advise. I am not ready for any of this, boy or girl. Always thought i was safe with her Aspergers.

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So What Happened?

We spoke to her last night regarding the issue, and emphasized that regardless of boy or girl she is NOT READY for a relationship. This is not a road she can go down right now. And by diving into this at such a young age she is going to end up even more confused in her late teens. She didn't say much of anything. We probably spent the majority of the conversation assuring her that once she is ready to ‘decide’, we don’t care what her decision is. DH and I have known and been friends with so many members of the GL community that we honestly don’t care. But, having had that experience, we’ve learned second hand what a struggle a lot of these people have gone through. Things are changing, but slowly.

After discussing it with DH after the discussion, I am even more concerned. This girl has a very troubled past, has a very troubled family, and I seriously doubt she's genuine with her intentions. Imagine your 13 year old daughter bringing home an older boy who's been in a lot of trouble with the law, his family follows the same suit, and one immediate parent is a registered offender. Yup, that's what we are dealing with here. After laying it out like that, we became even more concerned. Our first priority is to get her into a safe and nurturing environment. We discussed so of the nearby public schools, but placing her into a big bustling school would be very traumatic for her. We are now focusing our search on a few small private schools in the nearby city. I believe she is capable of assimilating into a classroom of only 10 kids with little trauma – she’s demonstrated the ability to do so on many occasions in the past. What she needs now is an environment free of drama, full of nurturing, guidance, and away from these scads of kids who feel their life isn't complete if they don't have a boyfriend because that’s what they see their mom’s doing. She did acknowledge that it's very difficult to not have a boyfriend when everyone else does, even though she doesn't want one.

Frankly, I'd probably be more freaked out if it was a boy because you have the whole risk of pregnancy. Very easy for and Asperger's kid to believe he really does love her, because things are very black and white. They tend to be naive.

We have a call into her counselor to move up her appointment from next week.

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answers from Louisville on

She wants to tell you but doesn't know how. What is the message you want to send her? Think hard about this, because if she feels like you are going to react by changing her life so drastically, then be prepared to be left out of the loop when the inevitable teen crises happen, such as parties with booze, pregnancy scares, etc. If the problem is that she might be gay, realize she may not even really know what that is. Would you love her regardless of who she loved? This relationship has been going on for three years - to totally make her give up a friend over this is harsh. Asperger's kids (my son has it too) have a hard enough time making any friends. I think I would think long and hard about it, maybe see if PFLAG could help with what to say to her. Focus on the fact that you love her and want her to know she can come to you about anything. Find out what she knows, and correct anything that is not factual.

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answers from St. Louis on

My son who is 13 has PDD so pretty darn close. This may sound lame but I would take the easy way out and forbid him to date, so that is my advice, forbid her to date until she is say 16. Treat her like any other child who is not allowed to have boyfriends until they are 16.

The thing is these kids are very black and white. Boys don't want to date me but a girl does therefore I must be gay. There are days I want to test the structural integrity of my drywall using my forehead, sometimes weeks. If you can't tell by that sentence I am a bit quirky myself. :)

The thing is I could explain this to Andy, we speak the same language and have a common history. There is no way for me to know the magic nugget that will make sense to your daughter. Facts in this case are not going to cut it.

Ground her, I see no other way out of it and letting it continue will just further confuse her about her sexuality.


Looking at Diane B's response and I can only answer this as Andy's mom, it is not the fear of the child being gay, it is the fear, and it is a real fear, they don't understand enough about themselves and how they relate to others to make that decision on their own. Andy likes girls, he wants to marry one one day but if a guy came up to him and said I want to be your boyfriend, Andy would hear friend and say sure and then be in over his head. Does that make sense Diane?

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answers from Tucson on

My son has Aspergers, so I know your struggle. I know this is not going to be the popular answer, but Aspergers or not, they know if they like boys or girls. My son likes girls, he thinks they are pretty and blushes around them. Tell her she is not ready to date, girls or boys.

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answers from Portland on

Would you be this frightened if she was friends with a boy? Kids at this age are trying out things to learn who they are. Because she's special friends with a girl does not mean that she's lesbian. It means she's trying out the concept. She may be lesbian but the guidelines for relationships are the same either way.

She also may be labeled a lesbian by classmates without her really understanding the significance of that label. She's different and subject to judgement. Kids can be cruel when they see someone different.

I have a 12 yo granddaughter. She has close relationships with her girl friends. They hug each other often, hang out together making close physical contact. Walk down the street with arms around each other. They are not sexual but I could understand that someone who wanted to hurt them or someone ignorant of relationships could call them lesbian. The physical and emotional closeness is a part of learning how to love and be close to someone. It's a developmental stage.

She needs your support in learning how to handle a close relationship. This girl may be a good person with which to learn. I would focus on helping her to have a good relationship. I would not focus on the lesbian issue other than to tell her that if she wants she can talk with you about what that means.

I suggest that you get her in counseling with a counselor who can help her with understanding herself and how she, with her limitations, can relate to people. Many people with Aspergers do have successful relationships including marriage.

Above all do not move her to another school. This is an issue that both of you will have to face. Going to a different school will not make the issue go away and it will make life much more difficult for your daughter. She has friends at this school. She knows the teacher and the school. It would be cruel to make her adjust to new surroundings. You know she has difficulty now. Multiply that by many times in a new school.

I suggest that you have some counseling too to learn how to deal with this with less fear. Educate yourself about Aspergers and people's abilities to get along in their world. Educate yourself about teens, sex, and love relationships. This is nothing to fear. It is a challenge that you can handle with love and compassion.

After your SWH. I strongly believe that you're seriously over reacting. This will not be the first time she is in this type of situation. You're only changing the local and adding much stress for her. I urge you to discuss this with the counselor. Also to get a second and a third opinion.

Removing her from one school will remove her from this one girl. However, their are many people like this in the world. She will gravitate to another one unless she develops coping skills.

I moved to the coast with my 13 yo daughter in part because she was making friends with kids who were involved in negative behavior, including drugs. She made the same sort of friends at her new school in a smaller community. Because it was a smaller community she had less choices in friends and activities.

You did most of the talking when you talked with her. You haven't learned much if anything about what she is feeling and thinking. She has to learn how to deal with all sorts of people and experiences now while she's young. If you make all the decisions for her now, when she's on her own as an adult she will flounder because she hasn't been allowed to learn as a child.

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answers from Boston on

OK breathe. If it turns out that she really is attracted to girls/women, so what? No big deal, right? With that out of the way, I think you have to approach this from the standpoint of not being ready for "dating" or "relationships" at all, with boys or girls. That until she's older (pick an age if that makes it more black and white to her), she can't "go out" with anyone. Let the message be very clear that it's not about gender or sexuality, it's about being ready for a relationship in which she can be an equal partner and won't be taken advantage of.

I have a colleague whose adult daughter has Down Syndrome and she talked once about how one of the biggest challenges with developmentally delayed or disabled children is that their bodies grow and develop and have raging hormones just like those of neuro-typical adolescents. She had to make a decision to have her daughter on permanent birth control (I didn't ask for details on what that entails) because she was afraid of her getting into a relationship where she'd be in over her head or would be taken advantage of. Your daughter obviously doesn't face nearly the same developmental challenges as my colleague's child, but it underscores the fact that being unable to carry on typical peer relationships does not save her from hormones or spare you from having to deal with dating, sex, sexuality and relationships. So, use this opportunity to talk about relationships, values, boundaries, etc.

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answers from Hartford on

I wouldn't panic, first off. Is it about the possibility that she's really a lesbian or is it that she's showing interest in things like having crushes and "liking" someone and being liked back, etc? It really could be any number of things right now, but the curiosity and the timing of this sort of thing (being interested and having crushes) is typical. Typical! How awesome is that?

How often can we moms of children with ASD say that our children are developing typically in a social area? Not very! She's curious and she may not completely understand what "lesbian" means. Even if she does, it's very important that you don't over-react. That means NOT ripping her out of her school. You know that children/people with Autisms need stability and routine and slow transitions much more than neuro-typicals, so ripping her out of school over an issue like this (whether she likes a boy or girl) would be devastating to her. It would likely cause a shitstorm of regressions and you would have to establish relationships with an entirely new PPT team, all new teachers, and likely have to argue and advocate with them as to why she needs to keep all of her services in her current IEP. You would also have to justify her moving out of her current school into a new one.

I'm not sure what you meant by "being safe" from this sort of thing with Asperger's Disorder. You do know that people who have Autisms feel things intensely and are very sensitive. You know that being socially awkward and having trouble expressing emotion doesn't mean that they can't be social nor does it mean they don't have emotion. There are a great many autistics that are married and have families. There are a great many gay autistics as well. They're sexual beings just as neuro-typicals are.

Your biggest ally right now will be keeping open and calm communication with your daughter. Calm, quiet, and let her talk. As JB said, what is that is attractive to her? Is it friendship? Is it the idea of romance? Is it that girls aren't as rough and tough as boys at t his age? Is it simply that she prefers female companionship and boys are still icky to her? Talk. That's all, just talk. I wouldn't make this a huge deal right now. Let this be an ongoing, open discussion.

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answers from Boston on

A lot of kids experiment with feelings and with "going out" at this age even though they don't really go anywhere. She may be gay, or she may not know, or she may feel an affinity for this girl which is not sexual.

You cannot protect her from her teenage hormonal feelings and I know that most of us are never ready for our kids to date or have sexual feelings/relationships.

Moving her to a new school will ostracize her further, and it won't solve a thing if she really is a lesbian. She'll just hate you and find another person. It will take her longer because she will have to start all over with new friendships, new teachers, etc.

What are you most afraid of? That she might be gay? Why? Would that be so terrible? That she might be doing something physical? Then how are you preparing her to value her body and respect herself/others?

You need to have an open and supportive relationship with her so she can come to you with her questions, fears, thoughts, and confusion, and know that she will be cared for, loved, and accepted. You need to learn how to approach her and how to react without panicking.

Are you doing anything for brain development? There's a lot that can be done nutritionally for kids on the spectrum, particularly the higher functioning kids with Aspergers.

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answers from Cleveland on

wow geez, I know i'm not ready for my kids to be in a relationship or date or what ever let alone with the social issues your dd has.

Can you tell your dd, that there are "rules" for the relationship. like they can talk on the phone but not go to the mall together- sorry I can't think of a good example but she might need help Defining what this other girl wants and what you will allow her to do.

I think i would also be talking to the other girls mama and making sure she knows your dd could have a very hard time handliing this and tell them what your rules are.

hopefully it will blow over soon.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Your daughter has trouble making friends and relating to her peers. Now she has developed a 'relationship' and you want to move her to another school? What do you think that is going to teach her? That approach will backfire! You will just drive her away from you. You will take away the one friendship that she has...

There has to be other options. Watch her behavior. Keep a close eye on her.

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answers from Dallas on

Ok, let's look at it calmly. If this were a boy you would look at this relationship with suspect and I would with a girl also. I have a friend with a son with aspergers who is 18 now. He is a bit awkward but a nice guy. If he had some one interested in him I would believe it. But at 13 he would not even have thought something like this unless it was routinely suggested. I think I would talk to a school counselor and a teacher or two and see if I could make heads or tails out of this. Then if I weren't satisfied I would talk to the girl's parents. Stalking happens even in situations like this.

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answers from Eau Claire on

Changing schools because she has a girl friend is a little drastic. Whats to say she won't start a relationship with someone else at the new school. At 13, most "relationships" don't last longer than a month. Honestly, I would just let it run its course. Especially since they don't see each other outside of school.

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