Older Son is 15. Freshman in high school. We have had all the requisite "talks" -- sex, drugs, alcohol, contraception, masturbation, girls menstrual cycles, no-means-no. You name it, his dad (ex-husband) and I have talked to the boy about it (much to his chagrin, ha ha). He's at the age where he's clearly interested in the opposite sex, but is still just looking. No kissing (or anything else just yet). We just change a lot of sheets. And I'm not rushing him. He's got the rest of his life, right?
Anyhow, I was feeling like I had covered ever possible scenario and then get walloped with this one.
Neighbor Kid, who we have known since he was in 2nd grade and Older Son was in 3rd grade, spends a lot of time at our house. Older Son is not allowed over to his house (an older brother that cusses and drinks, firearms, untrained pit bull... you name it... sweet people, just cluelessly reckless.)
In recent years, I have noticed that Older Son is definitely outgrowning Neighbor Kid, but they are still hanging out because they live physically close to each other, and they have been friends for a long time.
Note that Older Son has high-functioning autism, and Neighbor Kid has some sort of cognitive delay (Older Son will say .... "Neighbor Kid is like a 7-year-old in a 13-year-old's body). That sort of nails it. And since the onset of puberty, Neighbor Kid has been really moody and sometimes really a pain in the ass. Had to talk to him a few times about his behavior -- he'll get mad and throw a remote control, or storm out if he doesn't get his way. That sort of thing. His parents are very nice, but really clueless. I don't think they are addressing a lot of the puberty outbursts. He is their "baby" and he just is "so sweet". Ugh. Also, I think he's on some meds and the parents aren't really keeping tabs on what the side effects are.
Still, he's that kid in the neighborhood who you just know your kid will still have in his life when you are 54, ya know? Shared history and all.
All of this back story brings me to the incident that happened the other night.
While Older Son and Neighbor Kid were in Older Son's room playing video games and listening to music, Neighbor Kid asked Older Son if he could perform oral sex on Older Son.
And he didn't just ask once, he went on and on about it. Trying to convince Older Son. Even telling him that he does it to another friend of his (who we don't know, but know of). This other kid has autism and I'm not entirely sure he's submitting to this voluntarily. Neighbor Kid can be annoyingly persistant about everything, and he's fired up on hormones right now.
Luckily, Older Son came to me with this. He is a bit shaken by it.
In the best case, he has a gay or bisexual friend who made a pass at him.
In the worst case, he has a very confused friend who may or may not continue to try to wear him down, and may or may not be doing that to other vulnerable children.
I assured Older Son he had done the right thing. He said no, he said it was time to go downstairs. They joined us all the in living room and he waited until Neighbor Kid left before telling me about it.
SO NOW WHAT? Do I tell the mother? She won't be really receptive. I doubt she even thinks of him as sexually active. Do I talk to the kid? What about the other kid? I have no way of letting that mother know, I don't know the family.
I never in a million years anticipated THIS.
wow. i have no ideas on this just yet and i'm headed out the door. but wow. that's really something.
Well, your son definitely did the right thing, but as far as what you do with this information, I'm just not sure. I think that at some point someone has GOT to talk to NK, and tell him it isn't appropriate to just go around propositioning people. Ideally, it should be his parents, but it sounds like that may not work, even if you bring it up to her. I do think a carefully worded conversation with her is in order. You may also investigate if a school counselor could have a chat with him. Right now he has no concept of boundaries, and it doesn't sound like he's getting a clue about what they are on his own. NK needs to get this under control, before he ends up getting arrested.
I don't think I would have anticipated this either. I'm a little stunned and I can't think of a single useful thing to tell you.
If this is truly a sexual advance and nothing more, THAT I am prepared to deal with. Older Son and I have talked about that, and being his own person and respecting other people (regardless of sexual orientation). That we accept him for whatever he identifies as, sexually. He identifies as straight, but he knows to be accepting of friends that don't. I told him this is a time when a lot of kids figure out who they are, so some of his friends could end up figuring things out. I don't want him to be offguard for that, so we've talked about it. We've talked about the consequences of not being able to accept your true self, or having friends that reject you, and so if one of his friends confides that sort of thing to him, he is willing and able to be supportive. A friend is a friends, right?
But this particular kid, and the circumstances, and the boundary issues is a big concern. I've even considered that this may have happened to NK, which is why he is familiar with doing it. He is cognitively disabled, and very child-like, and I just don't know if he realizes he is playing with fire, or where to draw the line. Something with this situation just smacks of being really dysfunctional.
I agree with mcg - the sex of the kids is a red herring. I think continuing to support your son and having further conversations with him about his body integrity - that he gets to choose who is near him, that anyone who tries to "wear him down" when he says no, etc is not a friend and not a safe person to be around and that he deserves better.
As for what to do about the kid, well, I dunno. My two reactions are 1) since the kid's parents are incapable of parenting, and the kid is over a lot and trusts you, you could have the conversation with him that his parents should be having (i.e. what's the deal, why are you doing this, people who say no really mean no and you need to respect that, etc). Note: I ONLY think this is an option because the kid is cognitively delayed. If he were a cognitively typical 13 year old I would definitely not initiate this conversation. My second reaction is 2) to have a very frank conversation with both of his parents saying "your kid exhibited this behavior at our house and you need to tell him that no means no" and if they can't hear it, well, that's their (and his) problem, not yours. I may sound grumpy, but this kid's behavior is a real dealbreaker for me, as a parent.
I think you really do need to have a conversation with NK's parents, even if you think it will fall on deaf ears. I'm with kommish on that. I'd make it a deal breaker, frankly. I also think you need to talk to the parents of the other kid that he did this to, or figure out who CAN talk to them about it, because if their son is autistic he might, as you say, have not been able to really consent. In that case I think the fact that the boys are all around the same age is irrelevant, and if I were that child's parent I would want to know.
As for Older Son, it sounds like he really handled that very well. Reinforce with him that he did the right thing by coming to you and in being firm with NK.
The first thing that jumped to my mind is, what if there's an adult in NK's life who is taking advantage of his mental delay to get BJs out of NK, and NK is taking that to other people?
Step 1, talk to his parents. There's a lot of red flags there, including the idea that there is someone in NK's life that is doing this to him. Wether they hear it or not, you have to talk to them.
Step 2, talk to your son (again!) about appropriate and non-appropriate and role play through how to respond to advances.
Step 3... Do they have a teacher in common? If they do, or they go to the same school, it might be worth letting for sure your son's teacher know that your son has been through this odd situation and to keep an eye out for any acting out. I'd be tempted to talk to the other kids teacher too. But I come from a small school where the teachers have known my kids for years, so that might be not appropriate in your situation. Either way, having a "neutral" 3rd party aware of what is going on might help find out the extent of the problem, or nip other behaviours in the bud.
I thought about the teacher/school counselor thing too. But those folks are mandatory reporters, and I, personally, wouldn't risk reporting the kid's behavior without finding out more about it and then framing it in a way that's going to get the kid help if he's being victimized, but not get him labeled a sexual predator unless I think that's what he is. I like mandatory reporting laws, but they're sometimes a bit of a blunt instrument, especially for a kid who might not be acting quite his age or might not understand what he's doing.
Like HBD, I also wonder about possible sexual abuse. I'm certainly not an expert, but the cognitive delay might put him at greater risk of abuse than other 13 year old kids. That might actually be a way to approach his parents - sharing honest concern about their son rather than an apparent complaint about his behavior. I think talking about to parents is a must...not fun, but necessary.
The other family also needs to be contacted since their child might not be so well equiped to protect himself or understand what is happening. Talking to the neighbors should happen before contacting that other family. As a parent, I would hate to hear it, but I would want to know if my 13 year old was sexually pressuring a friend.
By the way - this situation speaks volumes about what a great job you are doing. Way to go you!
Thanks :) It was really a huge moment for me that Older Son confided this to me. You know, you lay the groundwork and hope you do it right, but you don't know if, when push comes to shove, they will actually reach out to you. I have known for a long time that my son with autism may be more vulnerable to abuse and also less able to communicate a need for help -- double whammy. His telling me -- huge. Just huge.
NK and Older Son are not currently in the same school, but next year NK will move up to the high school with Older Son, and then they will be riding the bus together, etc. In the meantime, they see each other all the time -- in the neighborhood, at afterschool activities (summer swim team season starts soon). NK is definitely the target of a lot of bullying, Older Son used to be but doesn't seem to have same issues in high school. But he's also assimilated pretty well, getting involved and having a group of friends he can count on. I think he's really worried that NK will try to tag along with this and thus hamper his social progress. Older Son has really blossomed this year.
I think I am going to have to grow a pair and talk to his mother. I am with kommish on the school thing -- mandatory reporters may not be the ones to handle this just yet, and since the boys are currently in different schools I'm not sure it would be applicable anyhow.