"known by all but liked by none"
Although I know a number of people with Asperger's who feel this applies to them, I am are not convinced that a blanket definition such as this is appropriate for the condition.
It is true that the Asperger's child has a great deal more difficulty making and keeping friends than neurotypical children but I don't think it is true to suggest that they end up with no friends. If anything, the aspie is more likely to end up with a very small band of very close and very dedicated friends.
The literature suggests that Aspie boys tend to prefer playing with the girls in their primary years. I would agree with this. As a child, I found that I was unsuited to sports, always the last to be picked and never at all interested in the sport itself. For the most part, girls were less interested in sport and more into talking. I found this much more to my taste.
I have no idea how this would have continued past primary school because at the end of year four, I had to leave my primary school to start at a secondary school. My secondary school was boys only.
I have very few memories of "playing" in the first year of my secondary school. I have a lot of memories of standing on the edge of the playground waiting for lunch to finish. By the end of winter of my first year (winter, in Australia finishes in the last third of the school year) I had met a new friend.
I met this friend while at soccer. Note, I did not say while playing soccer although we were both on the soccer field at the time and it was a reasonable expectation of our parents that we would join in the game. After all, we were on the team. I was amazed to find that this boy was as bad at soccer as I was. He was a social pariah in other ways as well, though I suspect he displayed more ADHD or more ADD qualities than Asperger's.
Nevertheless, we became very good friends and he introduced me to his other friends. None of them were in my class that year (or for the next three years - sigh... if only the teachers had been paying attention) but all of them are still my very best friends (25 years later).
When I got to year seven at school, the teachers were asking for students who wanted to become library monitors. Without even considering my new found friends, I immediately signed up. Luckily, all of them followed me. We all stayed library monitors until about a year 11 and we were probably longest lasting and most dedicated group of monitors the school library had ever seen.
I think that being a library monitor was the main thing that prevented me from being bullied. I was out of sight and therefore out of mind. By the time we left the library in year 11, our classmates had matured enough to bullying was a rarity.
One Girl in Particular
Over the years my school had turned co-ed, (girls were introduced) The first exposure we had to girls in our classrooms was in year 11 but the girls had been introduced in younger classes and in year 9, I met the girl I would marry.
I am often told that I am very lucky to have met this girl. I know that I am - she's one in a million.
Aspies have difficulty with normal conversations let alone sustaining relationships and especially relationships with people of the opposite gender. At school ages, even normal boys have problems with this. I think one of the things that helped me to get married was meeting someone who would be one of my best friends (and still is) at such a young age.
What can parents do to help
- Be aware, aspies attract (and socialize best) with other aspies or other children with disorders or drawbacks such as a language difficulties (ethnicity etc).
- The best thing that parents could do to help their aspie children make friends would be to locate groups at the school which are most likely to contain other aspies. Chess clubs, library monitoring and other non-sport groups would be the a good starting point.
- Parents also need to be aware that if the child is being bullied, it may be best to move the child to alternative lunchtime programmes such as library duties. Schools only have a certain amount of power to prevent bullying and they can only stop that which they observe.