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My son is 18 and a loner. He has had developmental delays since he was adopted as a toddler. He has made much progress in so many areas of his life, but socially in highschool he has no friends to hang with. His teachers report he is fine in the classroom, participates and is a hard worker. He has been to many counselors, and say to let him be...he is not bored being alone. He is never bored... How much time can a kid spend alone, watching TV, which I still have to monitor or he'd have it on too much, listening to music and reading? How can a person grow if they don't have (true) friends? My son is sort of Forrest Gump like...very sweet, naive and has gifts. Up through Middle School, he always had a friend or two... here and there...always someone if he wanted to go out...very well liked by the general poplulation. In highschool the maturity gap seemed to widen. He hasn't caught up...will he ever since he's slow to mature? I get very scared.


Todd Johnson, JD Replied: It is natural to be concerned for your child particularly when he may not be developing in a manner that you may have expected. Everyone matures at a different rate and some, particularly boys, are slow to mature. Although it sounds as if your son is not very social, that does not mean that you should be worried. His teachers indicate that he does participate in class and he is not bored. Spending time by himself may not seem appropriate to you but many people live very happy lives without a lot of social interaction. This may be who your son is. I would encourage him to explore some different areas of interest where he might have the opportunity to meet other young people with similar interests. For example, if he enjoys reading science fiction, see if you can find a group of other students that meet to discuss science fiction books. Or see if you or he can find a group of students that enjoy music similar to your son to discuss this music. If your son finds people with similar interests he may develop friendships with these people. But even if he does not, as long as he is happy, you should be happy for him. Good luck and believe that your son will find happiness.
Posted On 2008-07-10 22:45:26
Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: I love your description of your son---and if you recall, Forrest Gump was a happy-go-lucky guy oblivious to the social negativities surrounding him. While your concern is certainly understandable, the good news is that in spite of his social delays, your son continues to function well in school. Although he doesn't have any close friends, he has not withdrawn from participation in the classroom nor working hard at academic achievement. This suggests a great deal of inner strength and determination. There are people who are content to spend their time alone, and entertain themselves well. Your son may be one of them. Looking at the world through your eyes, being a loner seems to suggest a lack of success and unhappiness; through his eyes, it may not feel that way. I suggest that you encourage and help your son explore various activities or groups in which he can participate with people of similar interests. This might be a club at school, or an organization or religious community outside of school. Explore joining a sports team, bowling league or martial arts class; religious youth group; school team such as robotics, drama, year book, etc. Big Brother or mentoring programs may be available in your area. Or, perhaps he would enjoy volunteering at a pet shelter or senior home. The key here, however, is to allow him to be who he is. If you push too hard for social interaction, then he may feel that he is not being accepted for the way he is. If he is truly content spending his time alone, the best you can do is offer opportunities to expand his social horizon without forcing him to do so.
Posted On 2008-07-02 12:02:25
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