Sandy, Jo and Chris had been friends for years.
Having grown up in the same neighbourhood, attended the same schools and college, they were closer than family and inseparable.
It came as no surprise then that as adults, the three rented an apartment together.
Through thick and thin, broken relationships, unemployment and financial challenges, they all pulled together, totally supportive of each other, with very few differences of opinion.
Theirs was the kind of relationship envied by the majority of their friends, perhaps misunderstood by a few, and the topic of teasing conversation often over a pint down the local.
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Such a great insight to autism and a must read for all of us.
Unfortunately many people only see what they want to see,as this creates a safe life for themselves. But everyone of us should be free to live our own lives and be free of criticism and abuse from others. When people do not understand or are unwilling to understand situations and occurrences that are before them they tend to withdraw into their safe areas, which invariably results in them acting in an unfriendly manner to instances that they are unsure of. People are too judgemental and unwilling to learn from experiences they encounter.
So I say to you live your life how you wish for it your life not theirs.
This letter is to everyone and someone in-particular ; to you and not you; to me so I can better understand myself; to the parents so they don’t misunderstand their children; to the teachers, bank clerks, shop assistants, carers, doctors, nurses; to my family and yours; but most of all it’s to you if it hits a nerve.
Allof my life I have suffered, struggled with a disability I didn’t know I had. A disability that meant day to day living was a battle like no other, where my senses where attacked every minute to the point of actual pain and I had to just act like nothing was happening. If I acted like myself and showed I was in pain I would be smacked , told that I was being pathetic, a freak , told ” You’re fine ! Stop acting like that !”, ” you’re showing us all…
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If you have any connection to the disability community in any way, you may have heard of, Person Centered Planning. It’s a disability services buzz word.
Too many people are lonely. And isolation is very bad for our health and wellbeing. That’s according to experts and academics. With the recent John Lewis ‘man on the moon’ advert, we have also see
A soaring number of children with autism or Asperger’s have been bullied or even stolen from by their so-called friends, according to a shocking new study.
Nearly 90 per cent of teenagers with the condition said they had been subjected to ‘mate crime’ – where a vulnerable person is manipulated or abused by someone they believed to be their friend.
Many had been so hurt by the experience it had left them too scared to go out for fear of further bullying.
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In one appalling case, a ‘trusting and honest’ 24-year-old man with autism had left his credit card and PIN number with a so-called friend only for them to rack up a huge bar bill.
Another case saw a man befriended by neighbours who had then stolen from him and used his home to store illegal drugs.
More than half of 12 to 16 year-old who reported feeling taken advantage of by their friends said that they’d been stolen from. For more than two fifths, the bullying came in the form of physical abuse.
While several parents of children with autism or Asperger’s aged between 5 and 11 said they had been forced to move schools by the bullies.
Thirteen per cent of children in the 5-11 age group had also experienced online bullying which jumped to 21 per cent for the 12-16 age group.
The parents of one 14-year-old said their son had been bullied on several occasions by the very people he believed were his friends.
‘This is an ongoing thing which saddens me to the extreme,’ they said. ‘My son cannot distinguish banter from bullying and thinks it’s ok that his so-called ‘friends’ call him names or ‘accidently’ hurt him or get him to do things for their amusement, but he’s just trying to fit in.
The research also discovered many adults with the condition also feel they are being neglected. The charity warned of the ‘devastating scale’ of abuse and neglect
‘He’s absolutely harmless, extremely vulnerable and it’s so, so hard explaining that people are making fun of him and trying to get him into trouble for their own fun.’
The parent of one young teen said her son had been forced to steal by his friends.
‘He thought he had to do what he was told and complied with demands from so-called friends. Once he was made to steal. He was even made to pull his pants down. He’s had money taken and he’s been threatened. I can’t let him out to play with the kids I don’t know as I feel I can’t trust anyone and he’s so vulnerable.’
Wirral Autistic Charity, who carried out the online study with 141 participants, said it highlighted the shocking abuse being carried out against some of the society’s most vulnerable.
‘The overall picture our survey paints is one of heightened vulnerability amongst people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome to an insidious, hidden form of crime,’ the report stated.
‘Often, the person with autism is unaware that what they consider friendship is potentially an abusive relationship. It is the parents and carers who recognise the issue but then struggle to find the right way to provide support to the individual.’
The most vulnerable age group was 16 to 25 in which every respondent said they struggled to distinguish genuine friends from those who may bully or abuse them.
Worryingly, research also found that over a third of adults with autism in the survey had been subject to bullying or manipulation of a sexual nature – including being coerced into ‘sexting’.
Around half of adults with autism have been abused by someone they know, a separate study by the National Autistic Society (NAS) found which warned of the ‘devastating scale’ of neglect and abuse.
Around half of the 1,300 sufferers questioned by the charity, as part of a successful campaign to influence the Government’s consultation on Care Act which is now in force, said they had been abused by someone they considered a friend.
People with autism can find it hard to interpret other people’s motivations and as a result can be taken advantage of or manipulated, the charity said.
Speaking at the time, Mark Lever, chief executive of NAS, said: ‘These alarming figures paint a depressing picture of the horrendous abuse and neglect experienced by many adults with autism.
‘We have heard deeply distressing stories of men and women living in utterly intolerable conditions, exploited physically and financially by supposed friends or unable to care for themselves without support.’
‘………….By Annalisa Barbieri
She’s not doing any work at school, is extremely sensitive to criticism and sees offence where there is none. Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader
Our only child, who is 10, has had regular, uncontrollable temper outbursts for the past four years. She was bullied at school for nearly two years by three “friends”, between the ages of six and eight. We were unaware of all of this. At home we were seeing sustained tantrums, often from the minute we got back after school. Unfortunately, we didn’t know what to do at the time and would often shout back at her and threaten to withdraw treats.
When she was about seven we realised we needed considerable help and were even starting to think she had a condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A friend who works with young children in a psychiatric capacity told us there was nothing wrong with her and asked if she was being bullied. We said no. We decided to go to our GP but went to the school first to see if they could offer advice. They told us only then about the past year of bad behaviour and the bullying by the three friends.
We were shocked – these girls came for tea and were her three closest school friends. We were also relieved as we believed we had found the answer to her behaviour.
The bullying continued. She is a clever girl but was producing little or no work in the classroom, often folding her arms and refusing to work. She started to try to stay off school. On more than one occasion, I returned home with her to calm her down.
As she grew older she started to tell us things, describing feeling alone most days and how other children poked fun at her. She had started to answer back to teachers and play the class fool.
I read everything I could find on bullying and the effects it could have on neural development. I was convinced her behaviour, which the school was now very concerned about, was a result of bullying. The school didn’t agree, saying the bullying had stopped. Her behaviour at school was now the problem.
At home we reversed our approach and reaction to her behaviour and stopped fighting fire with fire. We asked for a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referral and she started a course of weekly, private counselling. We were also successful in getting her a place on a day course by Kidscape. It was a great day and helped her to see she was not alone and was not, in her words, a freak.
The CAMHS referral didn’t go beyond the initial triage on the two occasions on which we were referred (a year apart). It was acknowledged that she had a high level of anxiety about school and friends but that she was able to function normally. The counselling lasted a year and the conclusion was that though she was a happy, well-balanced, thoughtful child, she was “highly anxious” about friends and friendships.
Her tantrums at home are getting worse and she is becoming increasingly physical, though she is very articulate about the tantrums. She feels remorse and shame after an outburst. She explains that when she feels hurt or upset she holds it in until she gets home; it then bursts out without her having any control. She describes her brain as having two sides – a happy side and an angry side. Sometimes the angry side takes over and she cannot control it. She tries very hard to stay in the happy side and not let the angry side win.
She is extraordinarily sensitive to criticism and sees offence at every turn. Sometimes there is an outburst because I smiled at the wrong moment and she thinks I am laughing at her.
I contacted three specialists: professionals in child psychotherapy, child bullying and autism. No one can diagnose your daughter from a letter, but the professional in autism thought it was worth you exploring autism/Asperger syndrome and pathological demand avoidance as possibilities. But the only way of knowing is for your daughter to have a formal diagnostic assessment.
You may know that girls on the spectrum present differently and can be very hard to diagnose. Many health and education professionals can miss it because girls learn to mimic “how to behave” socially. I have put some links at the bottom here, which I’d like you to look at, including how to get a diagnosis. Certain things made me wonder: the explosions as soon as she gets home from school, the seeming inability to read your facial expressions, the high anxiety over some social situations. Children with autism can also be bullied because the way they communicate and interact may be different from their peers, and they may misinterpret social situations.
Your very much longer letter told me of the many avenues you have tried in an attempt to help your daughter, although there was nothing about her early years. But I see some routes were not fully explored because other professionals offered you alternative theories. I also wonder if the bullying has become the sole focus and so stopped one, perhaps, seeing anything else that might be going on?
Ben Lloyd, a child and adolescent psychotherapist (childpsychotherapy.org.uk) also wondered if the bullying was a symptom or the cause.
Leaving aside the autism for a moment, Lloyd explains: “A task of parenting is to help channel ordinary, healthy aggression and help a child to regulate their own emotions that are in the first place unfamiliar to them. It sounds as though your daughter has not been able to develop a way of tolerating ordinary enough frustrations that are necessary for emotional development to take place.”
It certainly doesn’t sound as if your daughter has learned to modulate her emotions or has emotional containment. But we don’t know why. Obviously a child with autism would find this much harder.
I would search the autism.org.uk website for sections on autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s, pathological demand avoidance, women and girls andgetting a diagnosis. Then I would go to your GP and start again to find help for your daughter (or you can do this privately if you prefer). I would also recommend you get some counselling (aft.org.uk; bacp.co.uk) to support yourself.
Your problems solved
Contact Annalisa Barbieri, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email email@example.com. Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
Follow Annalisa on Twitter @AnnalisaB ……………’
Do we really know who our friends or enemies are and when one may transform into the other.