Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do you like other people's kids? ---#NaPoBloMo

"Do you have any friends?" a woman asked our younger son over a year ago during an intake exam at a doctor's office.

Our younger son was newly diagnosed on the spectrum of autism, although that diagnosis was overdue. His brother's autism and comorbid conditions had been so severe that our younger son's issues were missed.

Diagnosed at nearly eight, our younger son's challenges seemed so multi-layered, and I knew that I needed to create a team of specialists for him just as I had for his brother. People would disagree. I expected that.

On the surface, that child looked "normal".

But, with a heavy heart, I knew that he wasn't. He was wonderful! He was so smart. He was the most loving creature I knew. And, yet, I couldn't deny his struggles.

So, I took him that day for an intake at the psychiatrist's office, and this woman asked him, "Do you have any friends?" Our son answered matter-of-factly, "No. Not really."

I wanted to hug him. I wanted to hug his autism away.

How did he feel about that? I couldn't help but wonder. Our older son didn't care to have friends. People bothered him. Peers bothered him. He preferred the company of an adult or two. His vacuums were his buddies.

But, our younger son? He kept his feelings inside. I didn't know if he required social connections. I had a feeling he might but just didn't understand the rules of social engagement. Instead, he buried his face into an electronic game. In the game, life was safe.

During the following year, I watched as this child was exposed to a new school and larger classrooms, new children...nice children, but it was all just too much. He became crippled with social anxiety by spring.

No, he didn't have friends. They scared him. He couldn't read them. They made him feel stupid. He preferred his legos. Legos were safe.

NaPoBloMo asked us today if we liked other people's kids.

The truth is, I don't much notice other people's kids because I'm too busy trying to manage my own. However, there is an exception.

Today our son was invited to see a movie with an old friend--a preschool buddy of his. The two boys parted ways when it was time for kindergarten in their different schools, yet they've attended each other's birthday parties every year.

Usually in life, the years pass. Kids grow. They create friends and social circles. They join sports or dance or some sort of organized group activity. They develop. They mature. I see that happen in other families. I don't much see it in my own, at least not in the pace that others experience.

As our children age and the gaps become larger between them and their peers, I am so appreciative of the kids (and parents) who pause, take a few steps back and choose to walk along with us for a while.

Acts of friendship happen rarely here, and their effects are lasting. Truly, I can hear our son bouncing off the furniture in the other room because today he got to attend a movie with a buddy. They sat together, with the buddy's mom behind them (being a dork and snapping pictures. Lol!)

That kid in the picture to the left of my son? Yes, yes I like him a lot. He's got a good heart, and I'm sure that our son will remember him for it.

NaPoBloMo July Challenge. Don't call me a quitter.


  1. This one is a tear jerker, Amy. Really touches my heart and increases my adoration for that mom and son. I have wondered many times if W would be more social if it were in smaller groups and now I know, he does like people, just one at a time for now. Another thing to love about him.

    1. He wants it. He is scared from lack of skills. The key is the child and the need for a facilitator.

  2. I avoided this topic for NaBloPoMo and went back to an earlier one today because the truth of the matter is I am really uncomfortable around other people's kids. I love my own, but I just don't know how to act around other kids. Most of the time I would rather not be bothered with them. I expect my kids to act a certain way and don't feel I have the authority or patience to enforce it with other's children. So I just don't. A wonderful post as always Amy. I am so glad your son had someone to go to a movie with. Kids can be so mean, and I am so glad he found a good one for a friend.


    1. Kathy, I understand your feelings. I've gone through phases. While I believe I'm meant to love children, I've gone through times when I just can't stand them and have to bite my tongue. LOL! Interestingly, yesterday while the boys were at the movie, I watched the baby brother of my son's friend--diapers, baby food and all. That was a terrifyingly horrible stage in our house. It was refreshing for me to learn that not all babies were as troubled as mine were.

  3. Wow - You are a Amazing Mom. I suggest you read the new best seller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The main character is an Amazing Amy. Autism is missing from the book but you may still like it.

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