Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Junior High School Dance

Remember your junior high and high school dances…

I do and I would like Nick to remember them as well. But he won’t if he keeps this up.

I feel bad because my son doesn’t want to go to his middle school dance this year—again. This is one huge problem that I still have with my 14-year-old son. He has mild autism and can control his sensory overload (e.g. loud music, crowded room)—at least in public—however, going to a function or an event like a school dance with his peers is something that he is NOT willing to do—vehemently.

This is where I could seriously use a circle of friends group for Nick. Or Best Buddies, which is offered in Massachusetts, but our school system—of course—is one of the few that doesn’t offer this program. I will work on it for high school and pray that one day he will want to participate in high school dances and capture these memories of a lifetime.

And what about the prom? Will he not go? I went to two proms (okay, 3), my junior and senior year and somebody else’s prom who worked at the donut shop that I work at (the fry cook and the waitress--and, yes, I was still 17), but I couldn’t imagine not attending one of them. I know people who never went to their prom and even though they don’t admit that they had regretted not going, I think they must? Did you go to your prom?

These are social engagements that some teens with autism are not comfortable attending. Some kids, not all. I know a few kids with asperger’s syndrome who attend their dances—happily. But the flip side of this problem is that girls or kids may not want to hang out or dance with the “quirky” kid, then what? My girlfriend actually spied on her son (who has AS) and watched him (I can see her now, peeking into the gymnasium, creeping behind the punch bowl and scaring kids)—she felt she had to and I envied her because her son is opposite my son in that he wants to do so many things independent of his mom. My son is fearful of these events because he is not comfortable with his typical peers—afraid more like—and I feel like I'm holding him back by not forcing him, but that would be bad, too. So, in the future, I must find a friend for him to go with, then I think he would enjoy it—perhaps. I mean he’s a very handsome boy who appears quiet more than quirky—what girl doesn’t like that?

This video from ABC News On Call brings this issue to mind--social issues,understanding autism and bullying. Scroll down to Nightline Reports and click on Daily Bullying, living with asperger's syndrome.


Dawn said...

I understand how you're feeling. I wanted my son to attend school dances. I made him go. I took him and three friends hoping they would make it enjoyable for him. I lurked around peeking in the windows and hiding in the coat rack to see what happened. It was awful!! His friends took off to enjoy themselves (as they should) and he stood in the middle of the room looking extemely uncomfortable and embarrassed. After about an hour of watching this I went inside and took him around to kids trying to get them to strike up a conversation. (I know...bad idea!) Now we can add humiliated to the list of emotions he was experiencing. I finally had to accept that just because I wanted him to be that kid doesn't make him that kid. I did go to Junior High dances but never a prom. I can't say I regret it either. It wasn't my thing. Maybe that's where he get's it.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

I don’t blame you for spying in the coat rack (clever) and intervening when you saw your son feeling uncomfortable. I would have done the same or passed a 20 to the nearest, prettiest girl. But at least you and he tried. You had the experience and he learned that he doesn’t like dances—that’s okay!! And you are right, it’s not for everyone—I have to remember that, too.

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

The middle school that Nigel had attended hosted a few dances, but they also had games going on in other rooms, and that was what Nigel was more interested in. He would not even go in the room where the dance was because the music was too loud for him. And the only reason he could go to the event at all was because his behavioral therapist accompanied him. I think maybe by late high school he might be able to go alone to dances.

I really like those videos on the ABC News site. Thanks for sharing the links.

Mama Mara said...

My son Rocky eschews dances, pep rallies, football games, school clubs, ski trips - all the things that made high school so much fun for me. On the plus side, he'll never do drugs because he'd have to get near a peer to get some.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Yes, that's how I've always looked at it too, less likely for teen pregnancies and drugs.