An overdue promised post to a mother who called into a mid/late June Q&A call, and talked about her 13-year-old daughter who wants to spend most of her time taking online college-level courses and they are worried about her socializing this summer. Her daughter's situation resonated with me and sounded like a combination of my daughter and me. Not sure if any of this info will be helpful, but I thought I'd (over)share in case some part is helpful. When our daughter was 12 (she's 17 now) and around the time we first suspected autism, she was exhibiting perfectionism issues at school. At the time, I thought (erroneously) that she was just academically bored, so I strove to provide enrichment for her. First, we applied to John Hopkin's Center for Talented Youth(CTY) (https://cty.jhu.edu/) by taking the SATs (there are also other qualifying tests possible) the summer before 8th grade. Although she qualified to participate in any of their courses (many are online), their programs are too expensive for someone without commitment and strong interest. But what it did do, was to clarify to us how intelligent she is for us to be better advocates and supports for her inside and outside of school. I've found (after 6 therapists) that finding a therapist aware of the challenges of high intelligence and autism has been key for her. For those interested in math enrichment (all ages), the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) (https://artofproblemsolving.com) is fantastic. In addition, to the great classes and other math resources, there is an online community that provides socializing opportunities outside of classes. My daughter only took one class through them, but a homeschooler I know uses that community as a big part of his socializing. I've recently learned about Oxford Scholastica (https://www.oxfordscholastica.com/) which provides online summer learning opportunities for ages 12-18 with a group of other teens from all over the world. There look to be a few classes with remaining space. I've also recently found https://outschool.com/ that offers a lot of relatively inexpensive classes for kids 3-18 on a wide range of fun and educational topics. Some (most?) appear to be live, small group classes. I've not been diagnosed with autism though it's suspected. When I was 13, I was very bored in school and foreign languages weren't offered for another year. so I took German in the 8th grade at our local community college (for credit) and loved it. As your daughter has discovered there are now a lot of great online learning opportunities. However, programs like the ones that I have listed above that can provide some peer socializing may be better. Depending on where her interests lie and your community resources, you may consider getting her involved with the local science museum, maker lab, etc. Much of my socializing as a teen with both adults and peers was through activities and outings provided by our local science museum. However, that wasn't appealing to my daughter. Although it is important to get outside and exercise during the summer, I would caution against pushing socializing beyond what your daughter wants. I can still have a hard time socializing unless there is an activity associated with it. I usually did not have any consistent same-age friends during most of my youth and particularly starting in middle school. I didn't seem to share any interests with my schoolmates and wasn't interested in being friends with them. Most of my socializing was through community activities (sometimes with adults), my extended family, or at summer jobs and camps. I didn't find a same-age peer group until college. My daughter has done "better" friend-wise but honestly, with all the drama other girls can cause, I think things may have been better for her if she had lower social needs. Much of her emotional struggles seem to have been exacerbated by friends abandoning her, being overwhelmed by her, misunderstanding her, etc. And particularly once she reached high school, the communication and socializing styles of other girls only highlighted to her how different she is. I wouldn't worry or push the socializing too much but try to find local or online groups/activities/classes that align with her interests and provide socializing opportunities.
Posted by cate at 2022-07-09 18:53:55 UTC