DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My son has a mild form of autism and his only interest is online gaming. He will not go to school and no one can make him. I've phoned Child and Family Services, the police, you name it -- even though he is supposed to go to school by law, there's no one to enforce it. The truant officer comes to the house and he simply doesn't answer the door. My son is well over six feet, outweighs me by 50 pounds, and is only 13. Everyone else has given up on him, and I'm pretty close myself. He's turning into a bully who's making life miserable for me and my daughter. He won't go to counselling, either. His dad quit seeing him a year ago because he "just couldn't deal with him anymore." Now his dad is trying to see him again in the hopes that his influence will get him interested in his education, but my son doesn't trust him. He sees him but constantly worries that he'll screw up and his dad will reject him again. Home schooling wouldn't work because he doesn't do the homework I bring home from school. I'm in contact with social workers, but no one can seem to get through to him. Is there any solution, aside from giving him up to CFS? I'm obviously not succeeding with him. I really don't know what to do anymore. -- Where to Turn? Winnipeg
Dear Where To Turn: Giving up your 13-year-old son, when he is already hurting over the initial rejection of his father, would be disastrous for him. Check out website Asperger Manitoba Inc. at www.asperger-manitoba.ca and look under parents' support group first. You need adult company on this difficult journey as much as you need your next breath. When you say your boy is bullying you and his sister, is he swearing, hitting you, threatening you? Does he bully kids when he is at school, or is he bullied himself? I spoke with the mother of a mildly autistic son, who was obsessed with computer games in his teens. This is her message for you: "My son couldn't deal with a whole day at school and he loved computer games. We worked a deal with the school for my son to attend three hours in the morning. The teacher faxed a report every noon hour. For every hour he went to class and completed his work (no homework sent home) he got an hour on the computer at home that afternoon. The system worked. He wrote exams and passed. Kids like mine like rules, but you have to be consistent. You can't break the rules yourself. You lose their respect and there's no end (to the haranguing)." She said she also used charts with stars and rewards well into his teens. "But the reward has to very tangible and can't wait too long. We gave points for cleaning his room, taking showers, even brushing teeth." She added, "As for the meltdowns, we fixed a lot of holes in the wall and we continually tried to explain why he couldn't get his way. There were screaming matches and he would throw things. Stand your ground anyway! He doesn't want to lose you like he lost his dad."
P.S.: Any readers with experience and suggestions, please write.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Last year I started hanging out a lot with a girl who was a good friend. Things had been going pretty steady but it didn't get too serious because we were both pretty busy with work and school. Our relationship was still platonic, but it definitely felt like there was some romantic tension between us. During the summer she introduced me to a large chunk of her family and some friends, which made me feel like things were finally about to get serious between us. Anyway, last week she showed up at my work to tell me she has a boyfriend and she's excited to go to his house for Thanksgiving. I just feel blindsided because she never even mentioned liking a guy while we were hanging out. Do I have a right to feel like I was played? Would it be childish to delete her number and avoid her for as long as possible? -- Blindsided and Brokenhearted, Winnipeg
Dear Brokenhearted: What were you waiting for? You made no romantic moves, and there was no sex and affection. She probably didn't know you wanted her. (Or maybe she wasn't interested in you romantically.) Unfortunately, the two of you never talked, just assumed, so who knows? Maybe she'd still prefer to have you as her a boyfriend, so get in there fast and fight for her, since you obviously care so much! At least tell her how you feel -- the love for her, not the anger -- before you delete her number and turn your back on her. You have nothing to lose, and you gain a small chance of winning her back.