Thursday, September 2, 2010

Answering A Question

I got a comment on my blog.  I was going to answer it in the comments section, but I figured it's a question others may have.  The question concerned my son's very successful birthday party.  I'll copy the question here, and attempt to answer it.  Keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I'm no expert, I'm just a mom.

"How wonderful! Yay for AJ and his friends!

Will you elaborate more for those of us who are still working/struggling on the social development front right along with you? What things made the biggest differences in his gaining friends? Are his peers neurotypical or are some of them also Aspies? How had he met them? Has his own attitude about being around people changed, and if so, did it happen before he began to make friends (thus inspiring him to work at it)?
Thank you for sharing your success!"
 AJ is not particularly fond of people, but these home school kids are incredible.  They keep trying with him.  That was the most important piece.  These kids are used to being around all different types/ages of people.  They're used to AJ, and their parents have educated themselves and their kids about autism.  Also, after a LOT of therapy, AJ is recovering from all that happened to him in public school.  He is now getting brave enough to try to make friends.  He is still VERY quirky, and a very "in your face" kind of kid.  But, he has found kids that he kinda likes, and they like him too.

So, for us, the "secret" was home school.  It was introducing him to kids that would accept him, and keep trying with him.  Even when he wasn't ready, even when he wasn't nice to them.  It was finding parents who would learn about autism, and teach their kids about why AJ was different (not less).  AJ says that it was easier to make friends with hs because it was a smaller group, and not so overwhelming.  It was more on his terms, not for 20 minutes during recess.  It was the "perfect storm".  And it was that AJ was willing to keep trying, to keep giving chances to the world, and to never accept "no" as an answer.

We've been lucky to find this group, and we've worked damn hard to create this luck.  I wish I had a better answer.  I wish I had the secret to help all our kids make friends.  I wish I knew that this "friendly phase" would even continue for AJ.  And I wish you luck making/helping it happen for yours.

BTW, some of AJ's friends are NT (most actually), and some of them are on the spectrum.

Thanks for the question.  I love knowing that people are reading my blog.  If there are more of you out there, drop me a line.  I'm sure there's lots of you out there that would have a better answer to this question to help this mom.


Anna said...

I love that you recognize it as a "perfect storm." So many things in our lives seem to go that way. I'm thrilled for you and AJ -- hope it keeps working!

Anonymous said...

Thats excellent that AJ is making friends. My 11 year old aspie has a tough time making friends. He has cousins that are there for him.

Anonymous said...


Original question-asker here... Thanks for reposting and for talking about why you think the shift happened for AJ!

One of the reasons I check in with your blog is that we too are homeschooling our Aspie. Not all homeschool groups are so generous, but we've been really lucky that a group of us friends started having kids and deciding to homeschool all at about the same time. So they've also been quite supportive and where appropriate they talked with their kids about J. and why he does some of the things he does.

So they don't reject him and they don't make fun of him - but he's also not their preferred playmate, if you know what I mean. He can really annoy them to the point that they try to avoid/ignore him without being too overtly rude, and he'll "hang around" them without actually joining in their play: whether by his own preference or because he's too confused and/or not wanting to admit that he does quite "get" the game - I'm not always sure and he has trouble articulating it.

But he considers them all friends, and they do talk with him and come to birthday parties. We also have two younger NT kids and his brother and sister play with him all the time. J. has been sheltered: no public school experience, etc. So while we go over ways to behave with friends so they also have a good time, it is taking a while to soak in because J. doesn't really see why he should do anything differently! Mixed blessings, so to speak.

Thanks again! I do enjoy reading about your adventures with AJ, and I'm glad that homeschooling and his peer group are working out so very well. Our Aspie kids are so awesome, if people just take the time to get past their quirks.

Best wishes,