Today at a playdate with A. (Little Squirrel's best friend at school) I found out more about the real cause of the horrible social problems that have been escalating since around January. I started having emails and meetings with Little Squirrel's teacher about problems with another girl in class. Little Squirrel and E. have had a "frenemy" thing going on that seemed to have come out of nowhere. I was confused because I thought Little Squirrel and A. were BFFs, so why take time for psychological warfare with this girl, E.? And all this girl E. seems to do all day is say, "I'm not your friend" to Little Squirrel, which makes Little Squirrel instantly burst into tears until E. says, "I was just kidding!" EVERY TIME! Then E. does the same thing again in about 5 minutes. All. day. long. And E. has gotten A. to do it to Little Squirrel also. And E. has even gotten Little Squirrel to do it to A. Basically, it's a 1st grade "mean girls" scenario with E. pulling the strings. I've been trying to talk to Little Squirrel about ignoring, and role playing how to ignore, and we've dealt with the issue a lot in our weekly counseling sessions. But Little Squirrel just doesn't have the self esteem or social skills to pull that off. Today, with A.'s parents, we compared notes and put all the pieces together and I feel really bad for Little Squirrel. Basically, Little Squirrel and A. were BFFs. They have a very positive, innocent friendship that consists of jumping up and down and running around, both are ADHD (though I don't think A.'s parents are aware of this about A.), hence why A. doesn't notice Little Squirrel's differences. No fighting or bickering--which is notable for Little Squirrel since she has had social problems in this area since she became social at age 4. I was encouraged by this positive friendship and the teacher even commented on what great friends Little Squirrel and A. are and how they are so good for each other. Then along came E. She joined the class in December and set her eyes on friendship with A. She's a manipulative little thing and started telling A. not to be friends with Little Squirrel anymore or she wouldn't be A.'s friend. And she's been pressuring A. to ditch Little Squirrel. It's become like a tug of war between Little Squirrel and E. over A. Little Squirrel just wants her fun, innocent friendship with A. back, but to E. it's psychological warfare. Little Squirrel is completely ill-equip when it comes to social complexities. That's why her friendship with A. worked so well. Little Squirrel has only very surface level social understanding, so she's been just floundering around, trying to keep A. and fight off E., but sometimes that means buddying up to E. to avoid being left out. She is in way over her head and this is only 1st grade. This situation would be difficult even for a NT, but disastrous for a kid with ASD who scored 0% on the social communication part of an evaluation. It's like sending her into battle every day without any weapons, armor or strategy. This is making me rethink the mainstreaming. Her teacher says it's getting in the way of teaching and learning. Little Squirrel is gifted and advanced academically. She doesn't even know how extraordinary she is compared to other kids in her class. She reads fluently, has the handwriting of an adult, is a gifted artist, and has superior math skills. Yet she's trying desperately to be accepted by little girls who are already dressing like teenagers and can't even read the notes she writes to them.
We have a meeting next week to talk to the teacher and counselor about options for next year.