Should I be concerned?

My son is amazing. Like, uses words in a unique way, has very specific interests, seems to genuinely care about people, even total strangers, and doesn’t seem to notice peer pressure. I think he might be on the spectrum, because he doesn’t seem aware of his own solitude sometimes. But it’s not a worry, only an observation, and we will get him evaluated when it’s time and could be useful information to him (or when he starts to affect himself).

He has Tourette’s, which is part of his oddness in the way people perceive him, but mostly he’s just a quirk, and loves it. He loves to play alone. He doesn’t mind playing with other people, but seems to prefer the world inside his own head. Sometimes he even tires of video games and goes off to create his own, drawn on paper, because it better suites his visions. He has hundreds of “paper friends” - laminated drawings or print outs of characters from shows, games, or his mind.

His birthday is coming up in a month, and all he wants is a ventriloquist dummy. A real ventriloquist dummy. He’s been talking about it for months. We are going to get him one, and I know he will be delighted.

He wants to be four things when he grows up: a plumber (because Luigi is a plumber), a writer (because he has 1,000 imaginary friends in his head and they all have stories to tell), a stunt man (he is incredibly risk averse, don’t think he’s thought this one through), and a ventriloquist.

I can see the path he’s traveling down, and it’s a heartbreaking one. I don’t want to change him, I would never encourage him to hide who he is or try to fit in, but who he is turning into is going to be a tough journey for him for a bit. I know he will find his people eventually, but kids are so cruel to otherness. Part of me hopes he will be too inside his own head to even notice, but that’s wishful thinking.

I’m worried his heart is too sensitive for this world and his interests are too peculiar. Am I too concerned about this? I guess I’m looking for some words of comfort from parents of awesomely quirky kids who made it through and became awesome quirky teens or adults. I was a quirky kid, but I was ashamed of my quirkiness and was self-aware to a fault and changed how I presented myself, until even recently. I don’t want that for him.

Maybe he will end up as an actuary. He could be; I see a lot of myself in him.

Anyway, just looking for some reassurance that he will survive the ugly mastication of this terrible world.


First, I believe a great number of actuaries are on the spectrum. I would not be surprised if I tested as on it. Also for the innocence and caring for people, reminds me a lot of my youngest daughter. As the “quirky” kid in middle school, I will admit she got hurt and was picked on, but it didn’t change who she was, just gave her the life experience to be more aware. She actually got into fencing (I paid for the whole thing) and that gave her a lot of confidence, she became team captain, all county and won a school athletic award I was shocked didn’t go to a mainstream sport. and she was never what anyone could consider an athletic kid.

She has a good job and lives with her boyfriend and is totally off my payroll.

I have also known an actuary with Tourette’s, as well as one with a severe stutter.

All I am saying is give him time and be there to comfort him. Not sure how old he is, but his interests will change over time, and who knows, maybe he will excel and be famous for his quirky interest

The quirkiness that separates kids and make them vulnerable, are the same things that make them interesting adults, especially when they have a good heart


I am on the spectrum, and I consider it one of the things that makes me interesting. Wouldn’t change it for myself, but I’m lucky and it’s something that doesn’t define me or my family. Not everyone is so lucky, but I think my son is more like me in that regard.

Thanks for sharing the story of your daughter. I’m hopeful for a similarly good outcome for my son. I hadn’t considered something like fencing. My son could be into something like that, or chess…something less athletic, more strategic.

He’s still quite young, in elementary school, so perhaps I’m overanalyzing it, but this is who he’s been for quite some time so I don’t envision him suddenly changing.

The fencing was an accident. She was looking for another club, and was directed to fencing by accident, but ended up loving it. But a good sport for individualists, and tends to gather the quirkier kids.
Before that she was not an athletic kid at all, had her in soccer and tee ball, actually continued into softball. But her hits were all swinging bunts that rolled 10 feet and she beat out a catcher trying to make a play.

Into comics and D&D, actually she and friends have a weekly podcast. But she is adventuress She is an archeologist, has been to Israel and Kenya for school, made friends abroad and attended weddings in Germany and Amsterdam. She has travelled on own to do service projects in Costa Rica and New Orleans and spent a month on a boat off Virgin Islands, where she got deep sea scuba and rescue certified. She spent six months in a ranger station in a California national park, virtually on her own

Believe me, I didn’t envision any of this when she was in elementary school. She wanted to be a vet, because she loved animals and realized you can’t be a vet if you love animals (my wife worked in a vet’s office, she saw the sad side of the job too).


One advantage in today’s world is that so much in online. Friends are often online friends. My daughter has friends around the world that she “chats” with and has never met in person. She is in her 30’s now. She had difficulty dealing with people IRL for different reasons, but the online world has made it easier for her today.


I would say most (all) actuaries are weirdos, whether or not we’re officially on the spectrum (deaaaaaaaath). I am a weirdo, Stu is a weirdo, our kids are weirdos, and the great thing about the online world is one can find weirdos just like you! You’re not alone!

[looks around]

I do think finding an interest (such as ventriloquism) and finding a social outlet in which to indulge in that interest is helpful.

It can depend on the area, but I found the 4-H clubs to be very helpful (it’s not just about doing farm things.) I’ve been a judge at the 4-H speech/presentation county- and district-level competitions, and a lot of the kids pick to speak on their personal interests. One kid I remember extremely well due to his enthusiasm and knowledge was really into the history of photography and pinhole cameras, having built a few for himself, and he demonstrated them. Some of these kids come back year-after-year talking on the same topics, but polishing them up each time. You start out at a local 4-H club, and unlike scouts & similar groups, there’s no age segregation in the clubs. The age ran from 6-17 years old for club membership.

That’s just an idea, but the point is being able to find other people you can share your interests in, and it’s really helpful to have other people your own age to connect to. My own kids, as they got older, looked to the internet for their social circles… just as I do now. Howdy, y’all!

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Certainly a fair point about the internet. It’s not just pervy men in chatrooms like it was when I was a teen. I don’t love the idea of my kids spending even more time in a virtual reality, but if it gives them a space to be themselves and find their people, it’s not all bad.

My stepson’s mother was super involved in 4-H as a youth and works in the ag college of our local university, so still has connections. I think she was considering getting step-NA into that soon, would be nice to have them do it together. Thanks for that suggestion.

I’m not a parent so can only give an outsider opinion.

The ventriloquism thing is a bit weird and could lead to bullying or similar if he gets too involved with it. I don’t have much experience with autism though, maybe it could be a coping mechanism for him.

You mentioned that he wants to be a writer, I might direct him in toward that. Get involved in his stories, ask him about the characters, develop an excitement about that! Maybe he grows away from the ventriloquism and gets invested in his stories. But if the dummy is what he likes then I’d be careful to not actively push him away from it.

@PatientZombie mentioned D&D. You say they are somebody who kind of likes video games but bores of them and wants to create their own adventures. FREAKING. PERFECT. It will depend on how “functional” they are - D&D can be a bit stressful and if they’d freak out if things don’t go exactly how they want, maybe it’s not so freaking perfect, but if they can deal with that kind of improv environment, they might like the worldbuilding aspect of it.

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Also, my daughter spends time on line with people she knows IRL it really helps maintain bonds over common interests. I see it as no worse than getting together to play board games

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I know we’ve discussed this on Discord some times, but this reads a lot like… you’re talking about childhood me (except minus the diagnoses; I do wish my Tourettes had been diagnosed when young). [Up to age 13 my dream was to be a poet when I grew up.]

I can say, looking back at childhood, the one thing I wish could be different is having been pushed… just a little re: the things I was good at. Not to the point of helicopter parent issues, but just having my talents recognized at a young age and a healthy push toward realizing them would have alleviated a lot of my ‘what if’ regrets that I have as an adult.

Re: ‘finding your people’ I was rather lucky in that respect, in that I found ‘my people’ by 6th grade. But elementary school was… rough, with being picked on and not knowing why [psychologists aren’t very good at diagnosing autism, but other children REALLY are good at sniffing it out]. I do have a lot of unaddressed trauma based on those years, and I suspect it’s a big source of my rejection sensitivity issues. I’d say given how well ND people get along with other ND people, finding spaces where he can find others like him would be helpful to alleviating some of that.

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School is rough. Being bullied, in the current environment, is almost inevitable for anyone that’s not mainstream. It’s tough for the parents to hear, but we’ve all been kids, so we all know it’s true.

Sometimes we look back and wonder how we ever survived school (whether you’re on the spectrum, was too fat, too skinny, too feminine, too gay, too queer, too emo, too hairy, too tall, too short, too slow, too poor, too smart, too stupid, too slutty, too nerdy…it really doesn’t matter), but kids are stronger than you think.

Sure, there are kids who don’t make it. Your job as a parent is to make sure they make it, that’s all you can do really. You can’t control how other kids behave, nor can you control how your kids will eventually feel.

I didn’t like my years in school because everyone called me gay and I had to vehemently deny it. I was also very skinny and wore glasses and my face was breaking out like crazy honestly I myself thought I looked gross. This continued past college years, when I eventually started to work out and gain weight.

Now I feel great.

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Oh I also didn’t like it that whenever I told my mom that I was way too skinny and ugly, she would say I looked just fine.

It sounded extremely patronizing.

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As long as this thing isn’t haunting my house (not the one we got him, but one he was interested in), I’ll be okay with it.


The world needs ventriloquists, right? Well, maybe not, but there’s a lid for every pot and if he’s into the arts, that’s cool.


No need for concern for any child really. They can always pass actuarial exams if they need a financial bailout. I mean you don’t even really have to go that far. Even doing basic data entry in cubicle world will put you in the middle class but nothing fancy of course. Which makes me wonder why stress out about anything at all really.

Make sure he knows Krav Maga or something. If there’s one thing that stops a middle school bully, it’s getting their ass kicked. I would overlook any kind of suspension or detention as long as my kids weren’t the aggressor.

Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms

Make sure he learns symbolic logic instead of the stupid shit public schools teach these days. Autistic kids love symbolic logic.

Well, no, but he may enjoy watching videos of ventriloquists (current ones & olden times ones – Stu & I have been watching the Ed Sullivan show from black & white times til the end, and he had ventriloquists on quite a bit) - there’s the technical aspect of ventriloquy to work on (not just hiding that one is talking, but how to appropriately contol the puppet), but the part that may help is that it’s a -comic- art. Learning how to make people laugh is great.

My son is autistic and while his communication skills are very limited, his memorization skills are pretty good. He knows loads of knock-knock jokes now, and has fun telling them (and enjoys when Siri tells him jokes). I don’t think he understands the jokes at all, but he knows people will engage when he tells them. They’ve got a repetitive structure, and he really likes that.


actually, my daughter does but learned after HS

other kids suck, and this is one of the reasons I’m not too sad I didn’t have kids. I’d be too worried about how shitty other kids would be towards them.

sorry, I’m no help. People in this world suck. Maybe he can learn karate?

My mom repeatedly told us growing up - “don’t start the fight, but if you are in one, win it.”

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