Giv­ing up your son would be dis­as­trous

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - MAUREEN SCURFIELD

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My son has a mild form of autism and his only in­ter­est is on­line gam­ing. He will not go to school and no one can make him. I’ve phoned Child and Fam­ily Ser­vices, the po­lice, you name it — even though he is sup­posed to go to school by law, there’s no one to en­force it. The tru­ant of­fi­cer comes to the house and he sim­ply doesn’t an­swer the door. My son is well over six feet, out­weighs me by 50 pounds, and is only 13. Ev­ery­one else has given up on him, and I’m pretty close my­self. He’s turn­ing into a bully who’s mak­ing life mis­er­able for me and my daugh­ter. He won’t go to coun­selling, ei­ther. His dad quit see­ing him a year ago be­cause he “just couldn’t deal with him any­more.” Now his dad is try­ing to see him again in the hopes that his influence will get him in­ter­ested in his ed­u­ca­tion, but my son doesn’t trust him. He sees him but con­stantly wor­ries that he’ll screw up and his dad will re­ject him again. Home school­ing wouldn’t work be­cause he doesn’t do the home­work I bring home from school. I’m in contact with so­cial work­ers, but no one can seem to get through to him. Is there any so­lu­tion, aside from giv­ing him up to CFS? I’m ob­vi­ously not suc­ceed­ing with him. I re­ally don’t know what to do any­more. — Where to Turn? Win­nipeg

Dear Where To Turn: Giv­ing up your 13-year-old son, when he is al­ready hurt­ing over the ini­tial re­jec­tion of his fa­ther, would be dis­as­trous for him. Check out web­site Asperger Man­i­toba Inc. at­perg­er­man­i­ and look un­der par­ents’ sup­port group first. You need adult com­pany on this dif­fi­cult jour­ney as much as you need your next breath. When you say your boy is bul­ly­ing you and his sis­ter, is he swear­ing, hit­ting you, threat­en­ing you? Does he bully kids when he is at school, or is he bul­lied him­self? I spoke with the mother of a mildly autis­tic son, who was ob­sessed with com­puter games in his teens. This is her mes­sage for you: “My son couldn’t deal with a whole day at school and he loved com­puter games. We worked a deal with the school for my son to at­tend three hours in the morn­ing. The teacher faxed a re­port ev­ery noon hour. For ev­ery hour he went to class and com­pleted his work (no home­work sent home) he got an hour on the com­puter at home that af­ter­noon. The sys­tem worked. He wrote ex­ams and passed. Kids like mine like rules, but you have to be con­sis­tent. You can’t break the rules your­self. You lose their re­spect and there’s no end (to the ha­rangu­ing).” She said she also used charts with stars and re­wards well into his teens. “But the re­ward has to very tan­gi­ble and can’t wait too long. We gave points for clean­ing his room, tak­ing show­ers, even brush­ing teeth.” She added, “As for the melt­downs, we fixed a lot of holes in the wall and we con­tin­u­ally tried to ex­plain why he couldn’t get his way. There were scream­ing matches and he would throw things. Stand your ground any­way! He doesn’t want to lose you like he lost his dad.”

P.S.: Any read­ers with ex­pe­ri­ence and sug­ges­tions, please write.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Last year I started hang­ing out a lot with a girl who was a good friend. Things had been go­ing pretty steady but it didn’t get too se­ri­ous be­cause we were both pretty busy with work and school. Our re­la­tion­ship was still pla­tonic, but it def­i­nitely felt like there was some ro­man­tic ten­sion be­tween us. Dur­ing the sum­mer she in­tro­duced me to a large chunk of her fam­ily and some friends, which made me feel like things were fi­nally about to get se­ri­ous be­tween us. Any­way, last week she showed up at my work to tell me she has a boyfriend and she’s ex­cited to go to his house for Thanks­giv­ing. I just feel blind­sided be­cause she never even men­tioned lik­ing a guy while we were hang­ing out. Do I have a right to feel like I was played? Would it be child­ish to delete her num­ber and avoid her for as long as pos­si­ble? — Blind­sided and Bro­ken­hearted, Win­nipeg

Dear Bro­ken­hearted: What were you wait­ing for? You made no ro­man­tic moves, and there was no sex and af­fec­tion. She prob­a­bly didn’t know you wanted her. (Or maybe she wasn’t in­ter­ested in you ro­man­ti­cally.) Un­for­tu­nately, the two of you never talked, just as­sumed, so who knows? Maybe she’d still pre­fer to have you as her a boyfriend, so get in there fast and fight for her, since you ob­vi­ously care so much! At least tell her how you feel — the love for her, not the anger — be­fore you delete her num­ber and turn your back on her. You have noth­ing to lose, and you gain a small chance of win­ning her back.

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