Does your child have friends? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Seriously. DS has no interest in developing friendships. The only children he's ever played with much are the children of our friends, and even then it's only when we see them because of plans we've made. He's never once asked to have anyone over.

When he started school (last week), we told him that he should at least learn one person's name everyday. (He has gone for *years* seeing people without learning their names. At the end of the soccer season, he still identifies the other children by events - "that girl who cried when the ball hit her" or "the boy with green shoes.")

So, he came home and said he learned Eric. "He wears a red shirt." The next day - Will - "he wore a yellow shirt." So, DH & I are thinking that's not a sustainable practice because he doesn't know their race/ethnicity, hair color, personal attributes, etc. He told me that he couldn't find his teacher at recess because "she wears something different everyday."

Well, we all went for the fall festival last Friday and realized that he can't tell us about Eric and Will because he doesn't know them! His teacher has little person-shaped cut-outs on the door. Eric is red; Will is yellow. He has no idea who the actual people are!

Anyway, it's made me realize that he's never had a friend or shown any interest in others. Are your children this way? When do they start to develop independent friendships?

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:04 PM
 
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How old is he?
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He's 5. He'll be 6 in January.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:09 PM
 
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DD is 5 and she doesn't really have any 'solid' friendships. That is, people she actively asks about to spend quality time with or play with. She has a couple of 'friends' who are the children of my friends, and she does know their names and likes to play with them but she isn't pining for them when they're not around.

She often does do the 'that girl with the blue shirt' descriptions for people she's been playing with at the park who have told her their names more than once.

Does your son seem disturbed or upset by this, or is is just a concern of yours? I ask because that's our litmus test. If dd is totally fine and happy, I don't push anything. She is still navigating relationships, albeit more so with family members rather than peers.

Does your son have other quality relationships with people in your family (grandma, aunt, etc) or does he seem similar with every relationship?

I firmly believe the most important interactions at these ages are with intimate family members and caregivers, and that true 'friendships' come later. That's just my opinion though.

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does your son seem disturbed or upset by this, or is is just a concern of yours? I ask because that's our litmus test. If dd is totally fine and happy, I don't push anything. She is still navigating relationships, albeit more so with family members rather than peers.
He doesn't seem to care. He said that he doesn't need to know people or their names. He plays alone on the playground, has no interest in the other children. Friends will call or text and say that their children asked if DS could come over, but he never does that in return. I've only ever seen him connect with 1 child, and it was a boy at the science museum. The boy was a few years older, and they were working on domino tricks together. Beyond that, people are a "take 'em or leave 'em" kind of thing to him. I wouldn't say I'm "worried" - more curious.

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Does your son have other quality relationships with people in your family (grandma, aunt, etc) or does he seem similar with every relationship?
He has relationships with DH, DD, and me. He does enjoy playing with one of my nephews when they see each other, and he will occasionally ask about G. (We live 6 hours apart.) He still mixes up my ILs names (as in calling them Grandma [grandpa's name]). He didn't know their names but said, "Daddy's mom" or "Daddy's dad" until about a year ago. We see them every 4-6 weeks.

He does seem to have a "relationship" with my sister. He remembers her name, but he's only seen her maybe 3-4 times in his entire life. He asks to call her, talks about her, etc., but he actually *doesn't* know her.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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I think it depends in some ways on the kid, although I think it is developmentally appropriate to start to see the friendship skills emerging around the age of 5 or 6

My oldest (12) is very introverted - he scored 100 percent for introversion on the Meyers Briggs scale. He has very few friends although he engages socially in a lot of ways. He was totally overwhelmed in a school classroom and while he got to meet some kids and form the beginnings of friendships they weren't long term sustainable friends and he wasn't very interested in seeing them outside of class mostly because I think he needed that time to recharge. We pulled him out in early gr 1 and homeschool now and he is definitely more able and willing to connect on his own terms than he was when he was in school.

He now has some very good friends which he sees but it is still fairly occasional (his best friends moved a couple of years ago so we see them less often) and for the most part it is enough for him. He has a peer group and lots of kids he interacts with through various activities but not a lot make it to friend status in his mind (ie the kind of people he would make an effort to connect with outside of their common activities). He played hockey and soccer for years without ever really making friends or knowing tonnes about his teammates. I just don't think that he will be the kind of kid with tonnes of friends but the ones he has are very important to him and will likely be life long friends.

I worried for a long time about it. His friendships and social interactions definitely take more coaching work from me than my daughters do (both very extroverted). But he's capable of making and sustaining friends and he's not unhappy with his level of socializing.

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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My daughter, at 5 couldn't remember anyone's names, and that wasn't important to her. She knew faces, or hair, and that was who she played with. My son was the same. He came home in first grade and would say, "the big kid in my class" or "the kid with glasses" etc. Basically he identified what he saw, not their names. My dss was the exact same way. I honestly think it is truly normal for them to just start playing with a friend and the name thing is just secondary. Now by the time ds was at the end of first grade, he started knowing names, he had a real friendship with one boy and the rest were just in the group that played with them. DD same thing, at about 7 she found one real friend but played with a group of friends. The now 13 yr. old was about 8 before he made a really good friend. So I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry too much. Keep your eye on the situation, but don't get too concerned unless this continues for an extended period of time.

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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I am both dyslexic, and have some vision/eye problems (lack of depth perception, poor tracking, etc.) I have both a hard time recognizing faces, and remembering names. I do get confused when people change clothing and hairstyles. I was also a fairly shy child.

That said, I had friends, and I had no trouble learning what to call my grandparents ("Nanny" dad's mom: "Gammy" mom's mom; "Grandpa" mom's dad; dad's dad died when dad was a boy) from a very young age. I'm pretty sure I knew that before I could explain the familial relationship.

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Old 10-28-2010, 12:58 PM
 
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DS1 (5) has oodles. He's a social butterfly. We're having his birthday party on Saturday and the place is going to be filled with kids. I'm terrified for the party, but also happy that DS1 is so blessed.

DS2 (3) is more quiet. He does have friends, but at school, I wonder if he's a loner because he has no problems playing by himself or doing things on his own. He only has a few that he can recall by name. However, he does a lot better one on one with a child vs a larger group. At a birthday party a couple weeks ago, he had a hard time engaging, but then found a quiet moment/space with a little girl his age and they had a great time playing. He wants to keep up with his brother and his brother's friends, but really seems to do well with kids his own age.

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Old 10-28-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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I have two children that has very little friends.

My son is completely happy with this. As he has grown, I have gentlely pushed him into develop other relationships. He has his friends and his acquaintances. We talk about the value of being social-able. I have asked him what will happen if his friends go off to college or if he does? What happens to his small circle? I have also asked him how he things people we know get things done? The have friends (acquaintances). They get along and are friendly with a wide variety of people. This has helped them found happiness. Example: He does this robot activity he loves. It is a small group of people. I asked him how did I find out about it? I talked and was friendly to people. These connections are what can make you happy in the long run. I didn't give myself up to these people just was friendly and developed a friendly relationship.

He is starting to see what I mean. You have your friends that you keep close but you also have your acquaintances that help you be happy. There are different levels of friendship and to be balanced you need them both.

My oldest daughter -- she is a socialite. It comes naturally for her. She has tones of them.

My youngest -- she is a hormone right now. She had a lot of friends but she is pulling away and socializing more with adults. She is 10 and just peeking into puberty. She has always been my yo-yo kid. She goes out gets what she needs then comes in and gets security. I think once we get over this developmental hump she will be more sociable again. The only has 1 true left due to people moving away (one reason I think she is being a little less sociable). I know I need to give her space and time right now before we/she goes out and makes more friends and/or acquaintances.

My husband and I are home bodies. I am more sociable than my husband.

Even though I encourage my son to go out and to be sociable. I think having one or two good friends is better than having a bunch that aren't completely reliable or emotionally filling. I do worry about my socialite for this. Some of the relationships are shallow :P But she is starting to shed some of those relationships.
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:34 PM
 
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I don't know what is typical, but I figured I'd comment since I have a son the same age (he'll be 6 in December). My son is very social and really desires friendships. We recently moved 1000 miles away from our last town and he talks often about his old friends. He had two boys he considered "best friends" and a few other close friends. He (well, we) has called them a couple of times since we moved. At his new school, he is seeking friends and working at finding a best bud. He doesn't always remember names, but he does know the names of the kids he likes a lot. I also have a 4 year old son who does not seem as social, but does have two boys he plays with regularly and talks about.

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Old 10-28-2010, 02:18 PM
 
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My ds did like playing with other kids but he still had a hard time with names. He'd call them by color (of shirts) a lot. I did and do a bit of coaching/reminding of names. "Hey look, there's Nathan in the red shirt! Remember Nathan? We used to see him at (homeschool) parkdays last year." Ds does remember the kids. He knows who is who. But he just isn't great with names until he has had considerable one on one interaction that also includes usage of their name. It's surprising how little of that comes up when kids play. It usually happens because the kids are with adults and the adults are using the kids' names. Ds will say "Hey, buddy!" if he wants to get his friend's attention more than he'll say "Hey, Nathan!"

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Old 10-28-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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"He still mixes up my ILs names (as in calling them Grandma [grandpa's name]). He didn't know their names but said, "Daddy's mom" or "Daddy's dad" until about a year ago. We see them every 4-6 weeks."

This, to me, seems very odd. How are his social skills otherwise?
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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My dd has many friends, though she isn't always great with names at first. She seems to flit from friend to friend. It does seem like something else might be going on, especially since he can't remember who his teacher is. Have you had his vision tested? He may not see well enough to notice other people's physical attributes.

Not remembering the names of grandparents he sees frequently and not being able to connect much with other people who aren't in the home seems off even for a child who isn't very social. I think you should run it by your pediatrician, especially if there are other things making you question how he is in comparision to how other kids his age are.
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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My son is 6 and does not have friends. He doesn't really understand the concept and uses the word "friends" to mean "children". When he sees a child he knows outside of their usual context (for example, running into a classmate at the store), he does not usually recognize them.

DS does have strong relationships with adults: us (his parents), grandparents, teachers, therapists, etc. But he struggles to form relationships with peers.

DS has ASD, so this is one of the challenges he has as part of that.

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Old 10-28-2010, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It usually happens because the kids are with adults and the adults are using the kids' names.
I hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense to me. I don't know that using others' names is necessary when you're playing most of the time.

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This, to me, seems very odd. How are his social skills otherwise?
I'm not sure how to tell. I have terrible social skills, and I still avoid people in many situations. Other people like DS for the most part, but he just couldn't care less about them, tbh.

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It does seem like something else might be going on, especially since he can't remember who his teacher is. Have you had his vision tested? He may not see well enough to notice other people's physical attributes.

Not remembering the names of grandparents he sees frequently and not being able to connect much with other people who aren't in the home seems off even for a child who isn't very social. I think you should run it by your pediatrician, especially if there are other things making you question how he is in comparision to how other kids his age are.
I may ask when we go in for his next well-child visit. He's had his eyes checked, and they're fine. It's almost as if it would have to be a very conscious thing - "look at that kid's face" - for him. He's otherwise incredibly observant and can recall great details about his surroundings. He's been able to find our car in large parking lots since around age 2.5, for example. He remembers how many trees were somewhere, what signs on buildings said, when a new light is out on a store marquee. It really seems to be just people, though as I said, it's not something that bothers him at all.

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He doesn't really understand the concept and uses the word "friends" to mean "children".
This seems to be the general usage I see out & about. Daycare folks seem to use "friends" all the time. DS has never picked up on that. He calls people "boys & girls," but DD calls everyone her "friend." After Day 2 of daycare, she said, "I met a girl named Elena. She's my best friend, and I love her." The next morning, we saw a boy from DS' preschool class last year, and he said, "don't we know that kid?"

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Old 10-28-2010, 06:19 PM
 
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What does his teacher say? My son is nearly the same age but has always been very social, I remember him getting on the dance floor at a wedding at 18 months with a 2 year old girl and just having a blast. He's much more social than his father and I. He's always run over and started playing with other kids at the park--whether they wanted him to or not. A challenge for us has been teaching him manners about asking to play before just jumping in.

My DD is 2 but we ran into a girl she is in "preschool" with at the park and she said "Hi Amy" (not her real name) and greets, says goodbye to all her teachers by name, knows grandma and grandpa even though we only see them a couple times a year in person (they skype though). So, I do think it's odd, and would want to check it out.

Though I sympathize... I cannot remember names at all, or faces, it's so much easier if someone has a distinguishing characteristic--or a dog--I can recognize dogs but not the people who walk them!

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Old 10-28-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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Wow, this thread has been a huge eye-opener for me. I feel like I might be borderline aspie, maybe DH and DS as well. But so many people writing that their 6 yo don't have friends or interest in friends, so maybe this is not really out of the ordinary then?

DS is 6 and isn't great at remembering names or even saying hello to a specific person by name. But he does know his teachers names, and at least 15 of the 25 kids in his class, if we look at their picture. Though I encouraged this and told him a month ago it was important to remember people's names, and I guess this helped. He has a few kids he prefers to play with, and a few he has asked to come over for play dates, but these kids vary.

DD is nearly 4, and extremely social. She says hello to people by name and knows everyone in her daycare, many of the kids in DS's class, people she has not seen in a long time... She has 4 good friends at daycare and one best friend, who she misses terribly if she is not in. She also picks up all the social cues. And is terribly into fashion. I look at myself and DH and scratch my head and wonder what happened, because she definitely didn't get any of this from either of us.
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Old 10-29-2010, 03:21 AM
 
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My dd is 6 and has several friends, and knows all of the kids in her class. She talks about her best friend all the time and begs to play with him every day. I'd say she's moderately social. A bit shy when meeting new people and not the biggest social butterfly, but at the same time happy to have someone to play with.

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Old 10-29-2010, 04:08 AM
 
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My dd is 6 and doesn't have any 'friends' at school, though she does have a good friend at church. She has other children that she plays with, and sometimes she chooses to play by herself. She has a very active imagination and sometimes the other kids 'get in the way' of her play. I'm a bit like that, so I understand.

That being said, she recognizes everyone in her class. She's quite social, and knows most of the kids' names. She just doesn't consider them friends . I think it's pretty common for kids of this age to not have a particular friend.

Things about your post that would cause me concern:
1. He cannot recognize his teacher "because her clothes change every day". That says to me that he's not processing something about how to identify people. It could be vision, it could be linking what he sees with something that makes sense to him.
2. He somehow was not able to link the names on the cutouts to actual children.
3. That he never asks to play with other children. It's very common for introverts to only have 1-2 friends, but to show no interest in other children would concern me.

I would talk to his teacher, talk to his doctor (about vision, and maybe other screenings).

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Old 10-29-2010, 07:34 AM
 
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My DS is 5 and loves other children and plays fearlessly with them, but he's only now starting to refer to other kids as his friends and it's still a very minimal friendship. It's more like kids he really likes to play with. He's only recently started asking to invite friend x over to the house.

I think 5 is still pretty young in terms of being able to form stable friendships and being able to formulate and share thoughts about other kids and relationships.

Though I wouldn't be all that worried that he hasn't been able to develop deep friendships, I had some of the same concerns LynnS6 had in her pp. If you're worried, do some research or take him to a specialist or two for an opinion. That's what I would do.
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Old 10-29-2010, 01:36 PM
 
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This may be completely out of left field, but I just heard about something called "face blindness" on NPR. Not that I'm saying this is OP's child's issue, but since some posters brought up vision problems, etc., I thought I would throw it out there.
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Old 10-29-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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I was just going to say the SAME THING...except I saw it on 20/20. My son just turned 6 and just started kindy. He has one really good friend in our neighborhood who he's been friends with for a year or so. He had another friend who moved, but toward the end of their living here, that little boy had started kindy (several months older than DS, one grade ahead in school) and kind of ditched DS for a couple older kids he went to school with...I think because of that DS never really asked much about him after he left. He mentions a friend or two from school fairly regularly, but I don't think it's occured to him to ask if they can get together outside school. (that may change this weekend, he is going to a classmate's Halloween party ) He also has had lots of my friends' kids as playmates, remembers them, and used to ask occasionally to see them--though now that he's in school all day and has a 'best friend' right here that he plays with almost daily, that keeps him busy.

it really seems like the face-blindness thing might be a very real possibility...given that he's trying to identify people by their clothes and that he doesn't have a problem seeing or remembering other things--finding the car, etc.

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Old 10-30-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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My 11 year old SS sounds similar. It has changed some since as he's gotten older, but even last year when he was evaluated for his IEP, it was noted that he cannot recall the names of other classmates. And when asked who his friends are he either doesn't know or lists random kids.

I do think it's worth looking into.

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Old 10-30-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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I have a mild case of face blindness - and that is the first thing I thought of when I read your post.

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Old 10-30-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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It may be a case where he needs to learn to be a bit more observant of people and try to name of the kids in his class. He may be a bit antisocial this might change hwen he gets older. May be he is shy too. My child has friends but few close friends.

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Old 10-31-2010, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really don't think he has face blindness. I don't think there's anything physical going on.

I think he's just not interested in other people. That's a struggle for me as well, and I don't want to encourage it for him. At the same time, I don't want to make who he is pathological. I had a therapist once who said, "your main problem is that you like books more than people." Yes, yes I do, and I don't see the problem with that. I think DS probably is the same way.

My question really is how much it's normal. Because I've never had normal social interactions for various reasons, I don't have a good sense of what's typical.

Oh, someone (Lynn, I think) posted about him not connecting the cut-outs on the door to the people. He's aware that the cut-outs represent the kids. It's just that he took it literally when I said to learn the name of a classmate. He learned a name but not the actual child.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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Well, maybe he just hasn't met anybody he thinks is worth being friends yet. It's not uncommon for kids, maybe especially boys, to just start making friendship connections at age 6 or 7. I remember thinking that there was maybe only one kid in my ds's whole pre-k class that I could see him possibly being friends with. He didn't develop a real friend until he was almost 8 though he did like playing with random kids. This was just the first kid he really liked and wanted to get together with. One of the homeschooled kids in our group who is 6 just started playing with the other kids rather than hanging out with the adults. His parents said he never played with the other kids when he was in school the previous year possibly because he generally had a specific idea of how he wanted to play and the other kids weren't interested in the same things. Now he's joining in with the other kids and they are finding common ground.

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Old 10-31-2010, 01:29 PM
 
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My question really is how much it's normal. Because I've never had normal social interactions for various reasons, I don't have a good sense of what's typical.
I think you missing a big part of what we are saying. You are asking for a simple number of friends that is typical. The reality is that there will be a wide range of normal in this aspect. It will depend on availability of potential friends (not simply the number of children around, but ones who share interests,) how the child defines "friend," social group dynamics, whether the child is shy, and so forth. So when you consider all these factors, the not having friends is not in and of itself hugely atypical.

The inability to recognize his teacher; the not calling his grandparents by grandparent names, but instead referring to them by their relation; not knowing any classmates at all; these things suggest something more is going on.

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Old 10-31-2010, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you missing a big part of what we are saying. You are asking for a simple number of friends that is typical. The reality is that there will be a wide range of normal in this aspect. It will depend on availability of potential friends (not simply the number of children around, but ones who share interests,) how the child defines "friend," social group dynamics, whether the child is shy, and so forth. So when you consider all these factors, the not having friends is not in and of itself hugely atypical.

The inability to recognize his teacher; the not calling his grandparents by grandparent names, but instead referring to them by their relation; not knowing any classmates at all; these things suggest something more is going on.
The grandparent thing is the only one I've found particularly odd. SIL & BIL have 3 sons, and for a long time he referred to them all as a combination of all 3 names, as if to remember their individual names was just too much trouble. He no longer does that, but it's one of the things I noticed.

To be fair to DS, he's only been in school for 8 days. His comment about his teacher wearing different clothes was after 2 days. It's not his classmates this year that concern me, it's that he doesn't care to know the names of children he sees for soccer, school, etc. I think people's responses are based on the idea that he *cannot* learn the names, but that's not the case. He doesn't *want* to learn them, and I'm wondering if there's a point at which that becomes problematic.

What I do think may be indicative of some of the issue is your comment about shared interests. I've only ever seen him connect with 1 child, and it was at a science museum. This child was 8 or 9, and in talking to him, he clearly was a brilliant kid with an affinity for math & science. He & DS had a great time together, but that was a one-time experience. We don't live in that city, so it's not like it was possible to meet up with this family later. DS still mentions "that boy at the science center," and it was about a year ago.

I do not believe - and I know this is an unpopular thing to say - that DS has met other children who are as cerebral as he is. He is advanced academically. While we probably will get testing done soon, I don't think that it will matter as far as where he is in class right now. So maybe he's doomed not to have others who share his interests unless we can find a place in which other children are more like him. Maybe that's my fear for him because we're just not in a place where that's particularly feasible.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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