Autism / Asperger's / PDD Support

New here/Mom of 13 yr old/Please help...
by oakgmom
February 27, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Hello! My middle daughter is 13 yrs old. To preface...As a preschooler, she was dx'd with a "developmental delay" by the school board which eventually turned in a dx of "specific learning disability." This diag has followed her through her elem years and now into middle school. She is receiving very loose educational support at this time (inside the mainstream classrooms.) Her grades have been mainly A's and B's since she started middle school last year which is incredible considering her elem grades were very much the opposite. Her teachers say she is a "dream student" as she is quiet and cooperative however, it often seems like her teachers feel bad and give her the benefit of the doubt when grading her work as she does give great effort but works way below grade level. She seems to not comprehend much of what she puts on paper and has a difficult time with homework. Now on to my other concerns...

She has never had many friends. We'd have neighbor kids over to play and, while she'd "play", ride bikes with them etc, there wasn't much of a relationship ever formed. Now, in 7th grade, she has a few people she'll call "friends" but doesn't express much desire to see them outside of school. We recently let her have an iPod with texting ability and she has attempted to text those girls but they seem to want nothing to do with her, ignore her etc. When they use any sarcasm or humor with her, she takes it literally. I've been noticing more and more that she has a hard time understanding sarcasm correctly. (I used to think it was just part of her developmental delay but, as she gets closer to 14, I'm getting more concerned as it's obviously used more prevalently in her age group.) When I try to explain a particular sarcastic comment to her, she tells me I'm wrong. She seems to enjoy playing with kids younger than her (namely her siblings) and she also still plays teacher, ritualistically, every day. She has part of her room set up as a classroom with whiteboard, students names, lesson plans etc. She tends to this "class" every day and has been doing this for about the last 4 years or so. She understands that it's pretend play but she also takes it very seriously. It almost seems like an outlet for stress for her after school so I haven't done anything to discourage it as I truly don't want her feeling bad about herself seeing as she has no problem with it. (She even wants to be a teacher when she grows up.)

On to other issues....she has always needed reminders to do things such as brush her teeth, put on deodorant. I've tried so many things - checklists, alarms, rewards systems, discipline etc. Those only work temporarily. Now we are back to me asking her every night before bed and 9 out of 10 times, she hasn't done it and gets mad at ME and stomps into the bathroom to take care of it.  I've had talk upon talk with her about the importance of caring for our bodies but she doesn't seem to get it. Even when I tell her in private that she has under arm odor and I didn't want anyone to notice it and make fun of her, she tells me I'm crazy and puts up a fight about going to wash up. My husband (her step dad) has threatened to take away her iPod for her not remembering to do these self care duties but a big part of me doesn't think it will help. It's been going on forever and I can't put my finger on why it is...something just isn't "right." Also, sorry for the TMI, but she used to deal frequently with constipation in the last couple of years to where she'd soil her underwear and then hide it somewhere (mostly when she goes to visit her dad's house.) When her stepmom would find it, she'd yell at her and then text me telling me that I should have taught my child how to wipe her butt in preschool. As if I haven't done this! On that note, upon inquring, my daughter has told me that she doesn't brush her teeth when she's at her dad's house. I've told her dad and he says he'll keep an eye on it but of course it doesn't happen and it comes back at me from the stepmother ("haven't you taught your daughter how to brush her teeth every night?) It's getting so frustrating although, lately, they have both been getting onto my daughter about her incessantly texting them to ask them questions like (what are we doing this weekend? etc etc.) When they try to explain to her via text why her behaviors are rude etc, she just apologizes and says she won't do it again. I do think they both see that something is "off" too but unfortunately, her step mom is hard to speak with and her dad isn't "allowed" to do much speaking on his own so I don't get to truly discuss this with them.

Let's see (I know this is lengthy and I am so sorry), another behavior that stands out to me is how upset my daughter gets when she hears that I did something like take my toddler to the park while she was at school or get coffee for myself while she was at school or pop some popcorn after she and the other kids are in bed. We do things often as a family and also spend time with just her. We're a blended family of 6 so we try to maintain balance and we hardly ever over-indulge etc unless it's a special treat so I don't understand why she reacts so strongly to things like that.  She is really the only one of our kids that has a strong reaction to things like that to the point where I feel like I have to hide my Dunkin Donuts coffee cup in the bottom of the trash can before she comes home so I won't hear the complaints! (and yes, on ocassion, we do treat her to some coffee out.) Even when I remind her of those special "she and I" times, she tends to act like she's forgotten about it or it wasn't good enough.

Overall, she has a sweet but VERY quiet personality with most people (not always me or her immediate family though!) and she can be sensitive to people's feelings but generally it's over-sensitive to where she senses the pain but cannot understand its origin (if that makes sense.) She spends time often with her step-great grandmother who adores her but tells me that she is TOO quiet and never says much unless she's asked a question but will mainly just smile a lot. 

My question is, does this sound like it's related to her developmental delay or possibly something more?? I realize a professional eval would be the only true way to tell but, will an actual diagnosis make a difference at this point? (Does it open more doors for her?) I am concerned that if I point out that something is "wrong" by taking her for testing, that I may only make things worse for her. Any advice is appreciated - and thank you for taking the time to read this!


  • Bobcatridge
    February 27, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    I have an almost 13 yr old daughter (aspergers, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder) who has a lot of friend problems some of them like your daughter's.  My daughter will think some kids are her friends but they never want to do anything with her outside of school.  Sometimes those 'friends' will do something mean that indicate they are not her friends.  But as soon as they are nice again, she thinks they are her friends.  It is very sad to see her repeatedly get burned by these kids.  We did some social skills group therapy which did help some.  Anyway the friend thing is really hard to watch. I can really appreciate what you are saying but I don't have any helpful advice as I am still trying to help my daughter with it.

    As far as testing and getting a diagnosis, it did help my daughter to know.  She realized and felt bad that she was so different.  Her therapist worked with her to understand the diagnosis in a positive way to understand why she was different.  She still has the problems but she knows why.  I also got her some books on aspergers and how to handle anxiety.  She did read them several times.  The diagnosis also helps me to understand her behavior and for me to interact with others about why she behaves the way she does.  When we started down this road we didn't want the labels but the labels help both her and us as her parents.


  • oakgmom
    by oakgmom
    February 28, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Thank you so much for the reply! Yes, the friend issues are definitely hard to watch. My daughter is the same as yours in that she easily "forgives and forgets" when friends or others do her wrong. Not always a bad thing I suppose...

    I appreciate your feedback and wish you the best as you continue this journey with your daughter. (I also have a 17 yr old that has GAD - I too suffered with it for about 10 years myself and understand the daily struggle.)

Autism / Asperger's / PDD Support

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