My friend's 13-year-old child is suspected of having Asperger's syndrome. He shows lots of signs of it, but doctors aren't sure. They say he's rebelious or has ADHD. He doesn't take changes well. For example, if you disappoint him by changing the time of a meeting or do something else than he expected, he'll make a fuss. He has very narrow interests and doesn't get that he hurts people by being abusive - it's their fault, e. g. he can be such to a disabled person. His mother has MS, by the way, he doesn't seem to catch this, for him she's healthy.

He really does badly at school, he has a huge backlog in learning, especially in math and languages. Average teenagers can be lazy but they can manage "around" their laziness somehow and have decent grades. As a poor student, he doesn't make any effort on his side to change it. He doesn't seem to be motivated to learn at school. He says that learning doesn't make sense. If he did, he would be at least average.

When one does his homework with him, he often gets distracted, furious, hysterical or even wants to make you do his homework for him. Spending time on TV is making things worse. He also doesn't believe he can succeed, it's hard to convince him that he's smart (but he is). It sometimes seems he doesn't comprehend any of the subjects we go through, he sometimes doesn't get the question. It feels more like he doesn't want to, because it doesn't make any point to learn.

It's strange that one day he does well and the other day he does really bad doing his homework. Same with grades at school - he sometimes does well and sometimes badly. Some people (e.g. his psychologist) say that he's manipulative. He may play a role of helpless but in fact he doesn't want make any effort because learning bores him.

He is a bit addicted to the internet and TV. He watches silly movies on youtube and from there possibly he took an unrealistic view on life. For example, that it doesn't require hard work, because on youtube he can't see all the boring preparations to do an awesome trick. The kid knows car mechanics very well, but doesn't get fraction and math overall.

Is there a way to help him go through school? It gets really bad, I have no idea how to get him out of this. How to make him believe that learning makes sense, while everyone tried most of the standard arguments on him, from money to "being able dreams come true"?

  • 3
    You're largely describing a huge percentage of children to some extent with much of this - manipulative, likes watching television, doesn't like school, does fine when he focuses but doesn't always want to focus on schoolwork. When you say 'suspected' do you mean a doctor suspects the child has Asperger's Syndrome? Or you/the parent/etc.? Is the child on an IEP? Has he been evaluated by his school?
    – Joe
    Oct 16, 2017 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


About his mother: have you considered that the fact that she has MS is really hard for him? That may be one very big pressure that's on him all the time. Him acting like his mom is healthy may actually be his attempt to cope with it!

About the videos: he seems to think they are cool. Does he happen to watch the SloMo-Guys? Thinks like melted metals poured into other liquids? The "red hot nickel ball"? If yes, he's into experimenting, if you want to help, set up experiments with him!
Or is it more sports-tricks? Amazing jumps, bicycle-tricks? Then he MAY be a very physical person. That means he needs sports! If he has issues focusing and loves sports, martial arts may be for him, climbing, or parcours! All of these will require him to learn to focus and push through when he feels he's unable to do something.

What kind of school is he at? He may truly be bored, he could be overwhelmed by theoretical things, being more inclined to practical applications. Perhaps he is more artistically inclined; are there any signs of that?

If you want to help him to get through school, you may need to help him find himself outside school. Once he figures out what he wants, homework may happen at least in the fields he likes.

Oh, and try to make sure he gets a proper diagnosis about potential mental problems. It is important to figure out if he is just acting up because he's a 13 year old boy (that's normal and will pass!), because he's struggling with the family situation (which might require therapy to help him work through) or if he has an actual chemical imbalance causing the issues (counteracting those requires an expert. Anything from sports and/or meditation over an adjusted diet and/or daily schedule up to medication may be needed here... the brain is hard to deal with!)

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