Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – The Club that Saved My Son

In Their Own Words – The Club that Saved My Son

This “In Their Own Words” is by Ileana Morales, who has a teenage son with autism.

I have a 17-year-old boy named David who has autism. David, up until the age of 10, knew very few words such as mama, papa, and toy (I know, all kids’ favorite word). At the age of 11 he became high-functioning; he would not stop talking and we couldn’t be happier. He was no longer shy; he could actually look you straight in the eye and tell you what he wanted, which he never did before. He started doing great in school and at home, but when he turned 16 (and the hormones kicked in) everything changed dramatically and not for the better.

He was desperate for friends, he wanted a girlfriend and when he gets something in his head of what he wants, he will not drop the subject. He was growing more and more frustrated. He started trying harder to make friends at school, but little by little he came to realize that he was different. He was treated differently and that the girls just wouldn’t give him the same attention that they would to another teenager.

He started getting more aggressive every day; David went from my sweet little boy to an aggressive teenager. Things were getting out of hand; I didn’t know what to do or say because anything would cause an outburst. I didn’t know who to turn to, either. The treatments weren’t helping and I didn’t want to result to treatment with drugs. He even started hurting himself with any object he could find, biting himself really hard or smacking his head repeatedly, causing him a terrible migraine. He would kick and punch doors, and throw things all over the house. He would cry to me saying, “Mom, please help me. I have no friends. I’ll never have a girlfriend; I’m a disgrace.” That would just rip me apart inside – he was frustrated and so was I.

I enrolled him in the Best Buddies program at school, but after every outing, he would come home more depressed and tell me that the regular kids didn’t want to talk to him (which honestly defeats the whole purpose of the program). One day, I started talking to the mother of one of David’s classmates, Rosa, and we decided to start a club.

It all began when Rosa threw a Sweet Sixteen party for her daughter, and all the kids were so happy all week – planning on what to wear, how to dance which the teachers at school showed them how to do. David didn’t have one outburst all week, which was a miracle for us, and they ended up having a blast at the party. The following Friday, I picked up seven of David’s high-functioning friends in my van with the other mother, Rosa, and we went to “hang out” at the movies “like the regular kids”(in the words of my son). This was the first time they had ever gone to the movies with friends and they would not stop laughing and talking, just being the teenagers that they so desperately craved to be. Rosa and I came out of the theater bawling our eyes out; we just felt so relieved to be able to do that for them.

Now we go out every Friday. I have the kids calling me all week to see where we’re going and what time I’ll be there to pick them up. David and his friends are no longer the aggressive teenagers they once were, because they’re too busy planning their Friday night outings and it makes me proud to be a part of that.

There needs to be more programs like this out there. Yes, there’s physical and speech therapy for them when they’re adolescents, but what about their social skills, their happiness? Our teens with autism need help; they get lonely, they want attention and they want friends. It’s our human nature to want to be accepted in society. If they suffer, so do we.

I wanted to share this story with every mother going through what I went through. Our little club is working and all of us together can make it grow, where every teen with autism can be a part of it.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


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  1. Barbara Pons
    August 23, 2010 at 9:55 am

    My son is 10 years old and is high functioning too! He has been craving friends for a long time and I usually call his school to see who he can be a good match with. The school would call another mother and find out if she was interested in a play date with her child and me and my son. It has worked amazaingly awesome. My son goes to Woodland School in East Hartford, CT. It is for special needs kids and kids with behavior problems. Since he has been there his self esteem has gone up and his speach has really improved. He has a couple of friends that he has made plans with and had them over. He also has gone to their house. This school has really made my life with my son truely amazing.

    I am really glad you found something like that for your son…..I am just not sure if your son is in a special school or in the typical school. This would probably be harder in the typical school to find kids like ours. Good luck with this and hopefully he finds a girl friend soon. Also you can try special olympics sports too. I have seen kids make friends there too!!!!

  2. Rob
    August 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

    What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I am a social care professional working with adults who are profoundly affected by autism and learning disabilities. While their experiences are qualitatively different to your son’s, they share the same need for social interaction as anyone. Many choose to isolate themselves as this interaction is too difficult or unpredictable. Finding people who will interact with, or even just ‘be with’ them in a social environment is hard. We are paid workers and our interaction with them, however pleasant and well-meaning, is a professional one. it is heart-warming that you have managed to create a social experience for (and with) your son that fulfils those basic, essential needs of human warmth and companionship (as well as teenage needs for social acceptance, peer bonding and even flirting). Great stuff.

  3. Noreen
    August 23, 2010 at 10:46 am

    What can we do about it? “Creative Solutions” Do Do Do and it will happen. Where there’s a Will, there IS a Way! Congrats to you and I’m so glad you were Bold. We need lots of Bold Mama’s out there! I’m following your lead :)

  4. Donnie Walker
    August 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I have an 11 yr old son and I can see this coming. He’s always been high-functioning and has always gone out of his way to try and make friends with regular kids; only to be disappointed. I joined the Advisory Board of Best Buddies in Dallas with the hopes that I could make a difference in DFW, and specifically at his school. I’m so sorry to hear that the BB program at your son’s school didn’t help. Would you be willing to provide me with the name of your son’s school? Not to get anyone in trouble, but I feel it’s important for the local chapter to receive this kind of feedback. That’s certainly not the desired result and I know they would appreciate the info. My best to you and David!

  5. Maggie
    August 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I am now going thru this same situation !!! with my son What a great idea !!!

  6. Dave Beukers
    August 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    HOO BOY did the girlfriend thing bug me. For a long time. Trust me though, these things do get better. Not that I’ve ever had one, even here at age 23, but finally I’ve reached a plateau where I’m at peace about my singleness. I’ve observed enough of my friends to know that 1) girlfriends aren’t necessarily what they’re cracked up to be in the movies and TV shows, 2) not everyone has a girlfriend like you’d be led to believe, and 3) I am a man of solitary nature at heart, and at least for now, I am happier not having to worry about another person in that way. If I can keep my head on straight and just concentrate on myself instead of being thrown about by the want of a girl (as I have been many a time), I’m confident that when I do meet that girl, I’ll be ready. Maybe your son can take some comfort in that (though I know how hard it is when the hormones are raging, believe me).

    Friends are an excellent first step in that direction, I must say. And, on a slightly different subject, you should never underestimate the power of multiplayer video games in good socialization and friend-making. You can talk to a man at length about every subject, but play him one-on-one in a game of Smash Bros. and you will finally KNOW him. ;)

  7. vanessa
    September 9, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I’m David’s sister and I would like to thank you all for all the wonderful comments and taking the time to read about my brother, I am so proud of my mom for doing this with the kids, I try to go with her whenever I can, but I have a two year old and he can get pretty cranky ;P we’re from miami and there’s very little programs for autism, my mom works from monday through sunday and still finds the time to do the ‘outings’ on fridays, and not to mention that taking all the kids out does put a dent in her wallet, so if anyone has any information on what kind of help she can get as far as a grant or.. i’m not sure what else, if any one can share some light on the subject, we’d greatly appreciate it! thank you all

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