Monday, August 30, 2010

Facebook and the Autisic Teen

Wow! So Facebook is all the rage in our house -at least for me and my teenage son.  For me, it's a connection to the outside world that I don't get see all that much of.  It's adult dialogue with friends old and new, near and far.  Most of my friends are not near...they are all over the U.S.  It is way cool to communicate with friends from high school who are my age and have children who are the age we were when we met.  We're all on the other side of watching teenagers grow up.  It's a way to stay connected and know what's going on with your friends from day to day.  Who has time or peace and quiet long enough for lengthy conversations on the phone.  It's an opportunity to quickly share joys and triumphs as well as commiserate over difficult moments.  It's the water-cooler conversation for those of us who work at home.

On the other hand for my son who is socially immature -he can communicate with a number of people without having to worry about facial expressions and reading social cues.  He can chat online in the comfort of his room without being in some busy, loud, social setting, which makes communication for him much more difficult.  He has many more Facebook friends than real friends -meaning the ones you hang out with regularly.  It makes him feel more a part of the teenage culture.

On the other, other hand --he sometimes can be just as socially inept online, as he is in real life.  That would be the case on Saturday evening when he decided to write on the wall of one of his friends.

"Dude -why do you have to go out with L? I mean I'm so jealous.  I've known her for a long time.  We live in the same neighborhood.  I really like her. She's the only girl who is really nice to me.  I want to go out with her."

WOW! This is what he writes on this girl's boyfriend's wall for all the teenage world to see! Dude -I really like your girlfriend.  Can't you just stop going out with her so that I can?!  I mean -just hand her over! Give her up...don't you see that I need her to be my girlfriend.  You can have any girl you want, but my resources are limited -so I need this one.  She's the only girl I know who is nice to me and kind of understands me.

I was just flabbergasted when he told me so matter-of-factly that this is what he had done.   Luckily for him the dude didn't try to find him so that he could come and kick his a*#!  In God's infinite wisdom -this young man happened to be a Christian and decided to respond amicably.

"Dude -I'm sorry but L and I are going to be going out for a long time. So you're going to have to find someone else."

Then other teens chime in, "The way to find a girlfriend is just hang out with friends.  Become friends with a girl and maybe one of them will hook you up with one of their friends who is single."
"Dude -you gotta just relax about it.  Let the girls come to you!"

In other words, don't act so desperate!

I was actually impressed with the advice that these kids were giving him.  They actually were using the same words that I have said to him myself like a zillion times! But hey -what do I know?

His first reaction when the boy very nicely told him basically -Dude -it's not happening...was rage! He pounded doors and his bed!  Screamed, "I Want a F-ing girlfriend! IT's NOT FAIR!" He charged through the house looking for his little brother to pound on, luckily he was gone out.  When he came to his senses and reduced his tone -I asked him what happened to make him react like this.  He told me the whole scenario.

"Wow -you have a lot of nerve kid! I can't believe you did that!" He looked astonished. What...what did I do?  He had no clue how much nerve it should have taken to dare to post such a thing.  I painted the picture for him.

"What if  some old boyfriend of mine called up your dad and said, 'Hey dude...I made a mistake when I let your wife walk out of my life all those years ago.  I really haven't found anyone else like her and I don't think I will, so would you do me a big favor and just give her up.  I mean -haven't you been married to her long enough?  It's really not fair -I really want to marry her." Hey -it could happen!

He had that deer in the headlights look on his face -completely oblivious that was what he had essentially just done.  I encouraged him to apologize to the young man and the young lady.  He felt so bad.  He wrote, "Maybe I should just delete my facebook," on his wall.  He wrote that hoping that his friends would all feel sorry for him and beg him not to.

When I saw it I said, "Maybe you should delete your account if you're going to do such impulsive things."  That was the end of that.  He realized, that he should think a little harder before he acts.  That doesn't mean he will.

He made his apologies and they were graciously accepted.  In fact, -the next day he ended up going to church with the young lady.  She warned him beforehand that her boyfriend would indeed be there.  He trepidatiously agreed.  The three of them ended up having a good time together at church.  He looks forward to hanging out with them again soon -maybe going back to church with them next week.

I worry of course that he will become obsessed with this friendship.  I always worry about the next weird thing he will do with regards to friend, especially when it comes to female friends.  My mother doesn't think he's ready for a Facebook account.  Of course, neither she or my husband want me to be on it either.  Sorry...I'm a grown up!  

As for my son -he will have to tread his way upstream on Facebook just like he does in the rest of  his social life.  He will learn from his mistakes.  I can't protect him from that -nor should I.


  1. Hello! I linked over from Julie Jabbers, and had to comment. I love your blog, and especially the way you communicate with your children. I have a 6 year old son with Aspergers, and finding people who can relate and read about their experiences is hugely comforting to me. I'm so happy to have found your blog; I hope you don't mind if I keep up with you!

  2. Thank you Stacey! I would love it if you follow my blog! I also have an 11 year old boy, so I'm sure we can relate to some of the same stories. Keep reading...I'll keep writing!

  3. You need to impress upon your son the rule that you NEVER, EVER post anything on a social network when you're feeling angry or upset.

    The feelings will pass but the posts you make are there forever - even if you delete your account.

    That will be my number one rule when my kids start using social media.

    If you want to shout, rant, swear etc... do it it verbally. Don't write anything down.