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Being on the Autistic spectrum can leave us adrift socially often seeking what could be perceived as strange or odd ways of socialising. We may start a conversation by blurting or mentioning a particular interest we have and may not realise the person listening is not interested.
Being a teenager with Autism can be very challenging socially. There are strange rituals to engage in and unseen rules to abide by. Speech these days can be bewildering, people say “Shut up!”while giggling, that means tell me more! “That’s so gay/retarded!”leaves us confused, why would someone tripping over or something like a broken down car be considered a disability or a sexual preference? People say one thing and mean the opposite.
Now as a teenager there are hormones and puberty to deal with along with the social side. Mimicking others behaviours, the way they walk, talk and dress to fit in is not uncommon especially more with females.
Rehearsing what they will say and pre-empting situations which may or may not arise is mostly mandatory.
Now imagine as a teenager you want friends desperately.
There's no way they comfortably fit in with the in crowd and they want to be liked.
They discover a sure fire way to gain popularity, a way to make what they perceive as friends.
A popular peer tells your teenager that they will like them if they give them a certain amount of money each week. They will put it in a way that as a friend, your teenager could ‘help’ them out by giving them their pocket money each week…
Your teenager now in their eyes is helping out one of the most popular kids in school! They are ecstatic. When you ask them why they have no money, did someone take it? They will truthfully answer you “No.”
End result they have little to no money, they may seem to have more when they are off school over the holidays. Possibly not if this is a kid in your neighbourhood.
A boy tells your daughter that he will Skype her later. She can't believe it!
The call comes.
She has put a little make up on, tidied her room and put on her favourite top. One of the popular girls in her year has the exact same one so it must be right, “correct”.
She giggles in she hopes the right places, not noticing the camera angle doesn't show the whole of his room.
When he tells her she's be beautiful her heart stops. When he asks her to lift her top and removes his she happily complies. She's flattered that he wants her to do this, he's chosen her not anyone else!
In the corner of the room sit three of his friends giggling and filming on their phones.
The next day she goes into school to a hostile reception. Girls mutter the words “Skank, slag and bitch!” At her and she's no idea why. She decides it must have to be because this boy likes her and doesn't like them. After all he asked her to chat with him right?
She goes to him at lunch with her tray expecting to sit with him. After all, he's told her she's his girlfriend now. He tell her to go away.
End result, your daughter is devastated and pictures and a video are circulating around the Internet of her with no top on.
If your daughter or son is keeping their door shut, seeming overly concerned with their appearance when alone and staying in and you hear speaking from their room and they are alone, check. With all the Facebook, Twitter,Skype, snapchat and Instagram there's ample opportunity for an individual be it a peer, or a known or unknown adult to take advantage of a vulnerable socially awkward teenager who wants nothing more then acceptance.
Always check where your son or daughter are going, have numbers for their friends and parents. Keep an eye on friends lists and check messages if you are suspicious. Better that then they go to meet someone they have never seen before and do not ever come home.
Lastly teenagers on the spectrum can be given to promiscuous behaviour. They may learn this is to them is a good way to make ‘friends’ and actively seek out peer or adult approval by offering sexual favours. They may, in all honesty believe the person loves them and wants to be with them. They laugh at their jokes and seem to enjoy their company.
End result. Check your child's whereabouts as much as is possible, easier said then done.
Explain fully all sexual activities and give them literature about STDs. Buy them condoms and get your daughter on some birth control. Do believe it may happen even if you have tried in all ways to stop it.
Remind your child, I say child as they will always be a child to you that they are unique and above all else precious. That their body deserves respect and not to be used as a tool to gain popularity
Lastly that a true friend does not use someone they care for nor make them feel uncomfortable, they seek to enrich rather then take from their life.