Cerebral Palsy
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.
Want to give us your opinion? Complete our annual survey.

Making friends at school.

KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
My son has athetoid CP and attends a mainstream school. I may be biased but my boy is fantastic, he’s bright, happy, funny and really puts himself out there joining school clubs and society’s outside of school but he still has no close friends. Everyone seems to like him and in school elections he got the most votes of anyone. His teachers and adults in school think he’s brilliant. Over the years he has had two longish standing friends but both fluctuated between being good friends and then turning on him the last one even started a WhatsApp group against him. One of the other boys in the group didn’t like the way the narrative was turning and warned my son but by then the damage was done. Each year I think things will be different his peers will have matured and he will meet like minded students. But once again it’s the same no one to sit with at lunch and certain girls taking it in turns to sit next to him in one of the lessons as if it’s a chore to be endured. Over the years we’ve had friends for tea but never been invited for return visits and I’m sure my cooking isn’t that bad. Anyone with similar experience and ideas on what would help. Or encouragement that university will be better. I know from my own experience that my best friends are the people I started work with not people from school but even saying that doesn’t help him now. 
Many thanks

Replies

  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                             How are you? I am sorry to hear of the difficulties your son has had to endure during his time at school. It is great to hear that he is joining in with school clubs, good on him. Please may I ask, what are the support services like for disabled students at your son's school, are they able to offer any support for your son in this area? Also, do you find that your son's peers are educated about Cerebral Palsy and the effects that it has? Perhaps this is something, if your son felt comfortable with it, is something they could share during tutor time? I have Cerebral Palsy and found the transition from primary to secondary school difficult, however my secondary school was very supportive and I initially started to attend a lunchtime club where I was able to first of all get to know other children who used the support services my school provided. From this, I gained confidence encouraging me to go out and meet other students, but I was always able to attend the lunch club if I needed to and could also bring friends I had made. I hope this helps and if I am able to offer anymore help please do not hesitate to ask. Take care. Thank you. 
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi WestHam06, I’m great thanks, how are you? School are great really and we bring this up in every annual review. When my son was in lower secondary there was a room where any kids with special needs could take their lunch in a quiet area away from the bustle of the main lunch hall and he did tell us about a bit of the banter in there but now he is 6th form although I’m sure if he really wanted to he could eat there but he really needs to mix with the sixth formers. They often eat in the 6th form block or go into town. What he has been doing is eating in the block and sitting near people he knows but he has no interest in going into town and wouldn’t keep up anyway. But he seems to feel that he does all the work in the conversations. They talk about House parties and nights out but never invite him. He says he isn’t bothered he’s happy at home loves his Playstation and will describe his younger brother as his best friend but I know that really it does bother him. Today he put a WhatsApp message out to all the sixth formers asking if the sociology students wanted to start a separate group for discussion of homework and only one student replied but he can see that everyone in the class viewed it. He is a bit different He’s very mature and studious so that might be the problem but his younger brother is too and has loads of friends so I really just don’t get it. Perhaps it could be just that his year group have fewer people with similar personalities after all some of them have gone from playgroup through primary to now without ever being his best buddy but others come and go from other schools too. I know it isn’t the biggest deal in the world, he’s happy at home doing well at school and follows his own interests but it must be hard when the others are discussing parties he won’t get invited to or as happened recently some of the students FaceTime some of their peers who went to the city college after GCSE but didn’t involve him. Sorry to ramble on but it just baffles me especially as he is hilariously funny with a very dry Yorkshire wit. 
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Scope community team Posts: 2,697 Scope community team
    Hi @KittyTinker
    I experienced some of the things that you have mentioned when I was at mainstream secondary school. Being the only disabled person in the school made me stand out a bit and for the first year, I was avoided like the plague.   it is very common for people at your son's age to experience some social awkwardness, it can be hard to put yourself out there when you are not entirely comfortable in your own skin. Teenage years are a challenge for everyone disability or not!  I feel that perhaps your son is looking too hard or trying to befriend people who are very different personality-wise.  


    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy

    Want to tell us about your experience on the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know. 
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Thanks Richard yes I think you’re probably right I know we are lucky that he’s really happy in life and this is just one of those things and hopefully as he progresses through life he will meet like minded  people. I feel a bit guilty really that before he started 6th form I told him that I thought things would be different as people choose subjects they have interests in and that would break the ice and now I’m thinking will things be different at University. He’s started back today after the holidays and I’ve told him to play it cool. Have lunch where he wants to eat and just join into conversations when he thinks it’s appropriate and hopefully he’ll just have a few people to bounce ideas and jokes off sometimes. 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                             I'm  pleased to hear you are well, I am good thank you. How was your son's week at school? Please feel free to use this space to share your experiences, you don't need to apologies, we are here to support one another. I too, like @Richard_Scope can relate to some of the experiences you have mentioned and I also agree with @Richard_Scope that teenage years are difficult for everyone, discovering who they are as individuals and beginning to develop into adults. Your son sounds as though he has many unique, great qualities and these will shine through. As people mature, they naturally gravitate towards people who share similar interests to them, people mature at different rates and also discover interests at different stages of their lives.  I hope that this helps and please keep in touch. Take care. Thank you.  
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi WestHam06 sorry for the delay in replying. His week went well he now has 2 students in the WhatsApp group and although they aren’t bosom buddies yet they have been sending messages and one asked his advice on another subject so small steps but in the right direction. Thanks to you and Richard for your advice it’s really helpful to be able to ask for advice as I barely remember what it was like to be a teenage girl never mind put myself in my son’s shoes. 
  • UdosdottirUdosdottir Member Posts: 34 Connected
    My son is only 8 but this still sounds so familiar. He's in junior's now, and it is slightly better than at infant's. He's making an effort (has a mild CP, and really wants to keep up with everyone; but tires himself a lot trying to do so, and ends up fatiqued and disappointed). Teachers at school say everyone likes him, and he definitely has a bunch of boys he likes. The kids he invited for his birthday did show up. But he has not been invited to one party in the past 12 months, and feels like he has no friends. Makes him rather unhappy, and me with him. But I really don't know how to help him. ;-(
    I thought it might get better when they grow older. But reading your post here... I suppose sometimes it has to go worse before it can go better.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @KittyTinker, how are things going? :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi Udosdottir yes I remember it well I think parents are frightened as our children get older that we are just going to leave them at the party without a second glance whereas the reality is that we are probably more likely to be responsible than many other parents. When my son was invited to ball play centres I was the mum climbing over giant sponges being bombarded by balls and ropes stopping fights and comforting injuries so that my son could have the full experience. Including the obligatory tummy bug a week later. 
    Hi Chloe_Scope things are just ticking along as usual he is sticking with the advice we have given of just carry on smiling interacting in classes and offering up help and advice to the others who are perhaps struggling in lessons. Luckily my son is really happy at home has a great brother and loves his hobbies and is on the school council and debating team but the icing on the cake would be that he had a friend and that his classmates didn’t always leave at least one seat between him and them in the common room. Nobody is rude or bullying and in the past when those sort of things have happened school have been quick to act it just baffles me that after all these years he’s still left out. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm glad things are ticking along, and that he is really happy at home. If there is anything else we can do then please do let us know. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                             How are you and your son? I was so pleased to read that things are heading in the right direction and it is positive to acknowledge these as small steps which have the potential to gradually build. It sounds as though your son is listening to your advice and is dealing with the situation with a mature head on his shoulder. Teenage years are difficult for the teenager themselves but they can also be difficult for parents but it sounds as though you are doing an amazing job. Please if there is anything else we are able to help with then just ask. I wish your son all the best and look forward to finding out how things are going. Thank you. 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @Udosdottir
                            Thank you for sharing the experiences of your son with us. How are you? How is your son? I am sorry to hear that your son feels that he does not have any friends and can appreciate that this may impact on how his is feeling which in turn can have a impact on the wider family. Good on him for making an effort, that shows his has drive and determination which are great qualities to have but I can completely relate that this can cause great fatigue for him. Please may I ask, does your son participate in any school clubs or any hobbies out of school? If he does, how does he find these? I also have Cerebral Palsy and it can be difficult to socially integrate in school at times but it is important to remember everyone has unique qualities and as children grow and mature they develop interests which can help them to build relationships with others. Please may I ask do you find your son's school to be supportive in helping him in this area? I often found at school it was others lack of knowledge and understanding that led to me feeling isolated and disappointed. If you and your son felt comfortable and if this is something your son's school has not done, perhaps they could integrate talking about disability and the affect it can have within the classroom. I do hope that this is of some use to you and please if there is anything else we can help with just ask. Thank you. 
  • UdosdottirUdosdottir Member Posts: 34 Connected
    Hello @WestHam06, thanks for reaching out.
    I do think school is doing a good job, yes. He struggled socially from the first day. In the beginning he was so afraid of being pushed over (his balance is poor and back then, startling was enough for him to fall and hit his head), that he kept away from groups of children. From the start they helped him make contact, although they might not always picked the "right" buddies for him. Since then (that's 4 years ago), he needs less help. But they still team him up with lunch buddies, make sure he picks someone who walks with him through school (as he struggles to remain in balance while opening doors) and things like that. They offered out more, but he really hates when they talk about him or his disability, and tries hard to blend in as much as he can. Just hates so much when anyone says he struggles with something.

    He enjoys picking a child to walk with him for the day. But I am told, he often goes through them in alphabetical order, and I wonder wether he fears it might be seen as a chore, and thus wants to distribute the burden on the others.
    He generally likes school, and is enthusiastic about the coming day. Mostly about learning things, more than social interactions, I think.

    Since he is only in year 4, there are not so many after school clubs, but he does go to choir (the only non-sports thing that's in school), he goes to a martial arts club (where several school mates also go; and he likes several of them and would like to be closer friends with them; and they do work together there...), we take him swimming on weekends (he's still new but most of the other children are much younger as I understand).

    I think, and that's supported by what teachers say, he is well-liked as a study-buddy/team-mate (apparently he does not even get picked last for football teams) and is not alone in school or at similar adult led activities. But having others around who are willing to work with you is obviously different from having a real, intimate friend, and that's what he is really worried about. He just sees that others are so much closer than he is to any of them, I guess.

    He doesn't get invited to any birthday parties. I think that is sometimes out of a twisted sense of being considerate. Just last Friday I received a text from another Mum who informed me that they had a part in a pool with an inflatable assault course, and her son actually wanted to invite mine, but they figured it would be only frustrating for him as he wouldn't have been able to fully participate. And he indeed wouldn't have been able to.

    As you mention you have CP yourself - may I ask: were there times you found particularly hard, socially? When did it seem to get better? As the Mum initially posting here mentioned, we are always hoping that it might get better when they get older...
    Obviously it will be different for everyone, but if you'd be willing to share, that would be great. It's so hard for me to fully understand what's going on, and he's still so young that it can be hard to get the information out of him. I

    Currently he's 8, and many birthday parties are very activity based (they go swimming, or to a go-ape-tree-climbing thing, or do an assault course...). I was hoping that once the party-parties start, it might get better. But judging from what the other Mum wrote here maybe that might actually be an especially hard time. Teenagers tend to be less inclusive than younger children, I suppose...

  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Scope community team Posts: 2,697 Scope community team
    edited January 2020
    Hi @Udosdottir
    Do you invite any of your son's friends over to hang out with him and play in his environment? Doing this will strengthen friendships and help the other children see what your son is like when he is more relaxed and confident. 

    When I was a kid our house was always full! I still have the same friends 30 years later. I found it extremely useful and liberating to talk to my peers about my CP, I was taught from an early age to do that. It reduces the significance of it and when people see that I'm relaxed about it, they become relaxed.  


    As I said to @KittyTinker, teenage years are not easy CP or not. I would enjoy the here and now and worry about the teenage years when they come around.

    Happy to chat further :)
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy

    Want to tell us about your experience on the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know. 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @Udosdottir
                              How are you? How has your week been? How has your son's week been? It sounds as though your son is getting on well at school in terms of learning and group activities and I am pleased to hear that the school have been supportive. The idea of having someone to buddy up with to walk through the school with sounds as though it is a great way of your son being able to access the school safely and independently, though I can understand how it may not always feel like this for your son. I can see it is a positive way for your son to start building relationships and it is great to hear that he is joining in with out of school activities as this opens up opportunities for others to see him engaging in activities which he enjoys and will therefore be more relaxed and confident in. I am more than happy to share experiences with you, but it is important to remember as you say, everybody's experiences are different. There have been times which I have found difficult socially, these were towards the end of primary school, at the beginning of secondary school and as I entered into adulthood. I can also relate to the party situation as I was not always invited and this can be hard as it can feel as though your disability is holding you back or preventing you from joining in. However, it is important to remember that this is not the case, disability can enhance and enrich your life in many ways, though drawing this conclusion can be difficult and often happens as your mature, though as we have said everyone is different, with different experiences. Teenage years are always difficult to navigate for anyone regardless if they have a disability or not, it is a time when people are discovering themselves and also a time when people mature at different rates. Naturally, as people develop they gravitate towards people who share similar interests. I met my closest friend towards the end of secondary school and we remain close to this day. As with most people, being confident and comfortable in yourself will also help with socially interactions and that is why it is so important to just gradually build relationships and it sounds as though the foundations of this are being implemented in your son's life, with great encouragement from yourselves and the school. Every single one of us are unique, with great qualities to offer and share. Also, I have found difficult experiences make us stronger, and as you have said your son is determined as he really makes an effort, this is one of his many great qualities and maybe some of his classmates admire this about him, just due to age they may find this difficult to convey. It is important to try not to worry to much about the future, though I can appreciate this is very difficult, and to just focus on the here and now as by doing this you can help to develop key social skills and build confidence which will help in the future. I really hope that this helps and if you would like to share more experiences I am more than happy to private message if you feel comfortable with this. Thank you. 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                             How are you? How is your son? How are things going for your son at school now? I hope that you are gradually seeing positives from the last time we spoke. I hope that you and your family have a lovely Christmas. Thank you and best wishes. 
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi WestHam06 thanks for asking. Things are a little better recently. A new teacher at school started a debating group in September at first it was one afternoon a week after school but recently they have started competing against other schools so have been practicing and discussing subjects at lunch time. They have got through the first round and are collecting information for the next. The boys in the group are all very bright and seem to be on the same wavelength as my boy but are upper sixths so a year older but fingers crossed they stay in the competition. How are your Christmas plans going? 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker,

                             Please pass on my congratulations to your son and his debating group for getting through the first round of competing with other schools, that is a wonderful achievement and please pass on my best wishes for the next round. I am pleased to hear things have been a little better recently and your son is enjoying the debating club, mixing with peers who are on the similar wavelengths to him, that's so important and will hopefully help to continue to build your son's confidence. My Christmas plans are going ok thank you, it seems to come around so quickly, how about your Christmas plans? Thank you.  
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Thanks WestHam06 I’ve passed that on and he says Hi and merry Christmas. Plans are going ok thanks we have 2 celebration days my husbands brother and family come this weekend for a buffet at ours because they live away and they stay over at my in-laws then on Christmas Day my mum and in-laws come to us for lunch. Boxing Day is just us. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Thanks Chloe I’ll read those and make a list of things he can try. On a good note though today the upper 6th boys asked if he wanted to go for a Christmas drink on Friday night. Luckily he doesn’t drink alcohol but he thinks he’ll go for a coke. Cheers all and merry Christmas. X
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Aw I hope it has a great time going out for a drink @KittyTinker!! Merry Christmas to you and your family. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                              How has your week been? How did your son's drink go with the upper sixth boys last night- I hope that he had a great time. Please pass on my best wishes and a Merry Christmas to your son and the rest of your family- I hope that you all have a wonderful time. Thank you
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @Udosdottir
                              How are you? How is your son? I just wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful time. Thank you. 
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi thank you for asking. In the end the night out all fell through but he wasn’t too disappointed. It’s all progress and he is very tired at the end of term. Have a lovely Christmas all and I will let you know how the next debate goes in the new year. 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                             How are you? How was your Christmas? I hope you all had a wonderful time. I am pleased to hear the progress is ongoing and look forward to hearing how the debate goes in the new year. Take care, best wishes and thank you. 
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi WestHam06 happy new year all good here thanks. My boys start back at school on Monday. How was your Christmas and new year? 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                               How are you? How was your Christmas and New Year? I had a lovely Christmas and New Year, thank you. Are your children looking forward to going back to school? Does your son have any mock exams coming up? Thanks
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                              How are you? How is your son? How is the debate team getting on? I hope all is well with you and your family. Thank you.
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Hi WestHam06 sorry I haven’t been on line for a while my mum in law has been unwell and I’ve been busy helping out. He had the second debate on Tuesday it went really well but unfortunately it went even better for the other team. However we take comfort from the fact this is his schools first time and the other school are regulars and as my boy is lower 6th so he can try again next year. The friends he has made in debating are lovely boys who have similar interests so things are going really well thanks for asking. 
    How are you? 
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,227 Pioneering
    Hi @KittyTinker
                               I am sorry to hear your mum-in-law has been unwell and I hope things are starting to improve for her. I am pleased to hear that the debate was a positive experience and that your son can try again next year. I am also pleased to hear that the friendships he has made through the debating club are developing, that is great news. If there is anything in the future you feel that we can support with then please do just get in touch. Sending you and your family best wishes. I am ok thank you for asking. Take care.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm sorry to hear about your mum-in-law, how are things at the moment?

    Really glad things are going well at school though @KittyTinker
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • KittyTinkerKittyTinker Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    Thanks Chloe she is doing OK she has COPD so this time of the year is always full of ups and downs for her but we are very close and help out where we can. 
Sign in or join us to comment.