Monday, August 31, 2015

Alone but not lonely

"My son is left out..."

"My daughter wasn't invited to a slumber party when all the other neighborhood girls were..." 

"My kid said Hi to every child on the playground and not a single one of them would play with him..." 

Sound familiar?  If you are a parent and your kid has autism, these phrases might have been said or at least thought by you.  That last one?  That's the Kiddo.  He'll "Hi" everyone he sees but despite coming across as "Mr. Friendly" I'm not burdened by trying to figure out a non stop social schedule.  You know what? I don't care either.  

It boils down to this.  He doesn't care,why should I?  I, once again, have to take my feelings out of this equation.  It's not about me. It's about him.  If he's totally okay with the idea of his social interaction with typical aged peers begins and ends with "Hi!", so be it.  I call my boy the original giver of zero fucks.   Any and every time he's been approached by a kid, he pretty much shows them ASAP that he isn't going to play the games they want to play or talk about the things they like.  Unless they too have a real intense love for YouTube clips about elevators, the conversation will be stilted at best.  So when they realize "This kid isn't playing with me. I'm going to find another kid.", I'm not surprised.

Now sometimes, we will run into a kid who is really patient or persistent or maybe a little of both.  They'll really make a flipping effort to engage with my Kiddo. I'm not gonna lie. That's awesome to see.  They usually turn to me to guide them and to find out the answers to favorite games or things to do that he likes.  I play Kiddonese language interpreter and make sure all parties involved know what's going on at all times to avoid an international incident.  Even then, it's usually way more social for me than the Kiddo. He just doesn't care.  It's partly his autism and partly his personality.  It's just how it is.  I make sure those other kids know it's not them and that he has autism.  Heck, might as well make it a teachable moment for someone.  Despite all the social stories I go over with the Kiddo, being social just ain't his bag, Baby.

Even with other kids with special needs, he needs A LOT of help.  He's has classmates who LOVE to FaceTime each other.  Many a time that iPad rings with an incoming call and he completely ignores it.  I again, am usually the one answering it and making him say "Hi!" at least to the kid calling.  But that's pretty much where it ends.  If he doesn't want to talk on it, I don't make him.  How social would you want to be if your mom kept chasing you down and ordering you to be social dammit!   Despite being on #TeamQuirky, he will be the first one to complain about a fellow team member's quirks too!  Not exactly understanding of another sensory needs or challenges without some guidance from yours truly to remember to be patient and kind.  It's a tricky juggle.  Who's quirks ranks above the other? Right?  Not always an easy answer.

Now I hear about a thousand of you saying "Well that's your kiddo." and you're right. It's my Kiddo and our experience.  I'm not that clueless.  I'm just saying after this many years of autism, I don't sweat that stuff anymore.  It's not a priority to my Kiddo, so I'm not going to drive myself bat shit crazy trying to make it one.  If he's chill doing his own thing, why should I freak out about it?

It's a real "Would of, Could of, Should of" with this Kiddo.  Would it be nice to have lots of play dates? Sure but fitting them in between therapy appointments would probably be tough.  Could these kids just tried a little harder with him? Yeah but I don't expect my 11 year old to be perfect.  So I'm not putting that expectation on any other.  Should he be included?  Of course, when it's appropriate and possible.  At the same time, I'm usually in a panic attack when we do get invited because so many things could go so wrong.  There's just no pleasing us!  Damn, we're complicated.  ;-)

What I have learned and what I do know is this. Sometimes it's all on us.  Sometimes we have to be the ones making the effort and that includes knowing when to back off.  He might be alone but doesn't always mean he's lonely.   Sometimes he's happy to sit at a lunch table full of kids and listen to them talk.  Other times, he's just as content to run across the playground by himself singing "Bird is the Word" at the top of lungs.  You know that old Irish saying "Dance like no one is watching".  That's the Kiddo to a "T". ;-)

If he's the tour guide on this Autism trip, I better follow his lead. 


  1. I feel the same way about my daughter. I step in when I can and when I need to and sometime that means backing off. I love your last line, they are the tour guide!! Excellent! Thanks!

  2. I love the way you view things. You are an inspiration to all parents and have such a gift for putting things in perspective. Thanks!

  3. Are you sure your kid doesn't FaceTime? Because I'm sick of talking about elevators and watching videos about other autistic kids talk about elevators! It's. All. About. Elevators.

  4. You can't know how much I needed to read this today. Remembering that I need to take how I would feel out of his perspective entirely. Thank you.

  5. As a mother of a child diagnosed with autism and a grandson who appears to be on the spectrum, as well as a teacher of exceptionalities, particularly autism, thank you for your post!!!!!!!!!