It's been a long time since Daniel has had a friend over to our house. A long time, as in maybe, never? He has been to a couple of people's house's here and there. It usually ends up looking like Daniel doing his own thing and it was never very comfortable. For some reason, last week, I got the bright idea for Daniel to have a friend over from school. I have bragged of Daniel's wonderful peer support and that's true. It just rarely extends outside of school.
When Daniel was about five or six, we went to a Dr. at a major university who specializes in autism. It was mostly a wasted experience. I had seen the Dr lecture and he was very good at that. But from the office visit, we walked away saying "enough". I remember one thing very clearly that he said. We really needed to find a kid for Daniel to play with regularly. One not on the spectrum, who would be patient enough to deal with him, who would give hours a week to us. I remember thinking, "where would you find this magical child who would be so giving of themselves and expect nothing in return?" By nothing in return, I mean not get interaction back from him. I found myself shaking my head. My thought that we could never find such a child.
I was surfing around on facebook earlier in the week, and saw that a mother of a boy in Daniel's class was on fb too. So I made a leap of faith and I popped over to her page and just asked if her son would be around this weekend and would he like to come over and hang out with Daniel. I have to say, I don't know if I would have gotten around to actually calling her, but the accessibility of seeing her picture right there and the ease of clicking on "comment" and typing the question, made it simple. I didn't have time for the fear to rise in me. It's a dark cloud that I have. I don't know if all parents do, I assume so, but I have a feeling it is more prevalent when the child has a disability. It's a cloud within me that rises up. It makes me want to shield him and protect him from being hurt. It's like a monster because while protecting your child can be a good thing, it can also prevent you from pushing them forward and it can keep them from growing and progressing. That Dr. at the maize and blue university said, "you can keep these kids babies forever if you want, if you don't push them forward". That's always been in the back of my mind. I guess I did get something out of my hundreds and hundreds of dollars that day. . .
We got a very enthusiastic response from the mother and we had a tentative plan for a get together. I warned that Daniel might not last more than an hour or so, but that is a good start don't you think? Well today said friend came over. I thought the Wii would be a good equalizer. You can interact, and play against each other. I talked to Daniel ahead of time and told him, it's OK if he doesn't win. He tends to get upset when he doesn't win, and we are working on that. I'm happy to report that he was here for about an hour and a half. Daniel was more than done by then. Todd, my husband, spent most of the time with them, being near to help facilitate. He even gave up watching the second half of an MSU basketball game. Now that's love!
It was a very successful time. They spent about an hour with the Wii. They bowled. Then, said friend, asked to play tennis, to which Daniel agreed. He never plays tennis. How cool that he was willing to do something out of his norm to make his friend happy. That is actually taking someone elses point of view. What a huge step. When I was around them things were winding down and they boys were playing Rokenbok. I could tell Daniel was getting annoyed and he was talking in scripts, but that is why this kid is so great. He understands Daniel and doesn't get put off when Daniel starts talking video talk. He is happy just hanging with him and spending time. He asked him a question and as soon as he knew Daniel was starting to get annoyed he said, "should I put it back Daniel?" "Yes" he answered. Most kids don't have the incite to Daniel like that, except his brother. This kid has been his friend since 1st grade. He is always there for him. He religiously shows up for Daniel's friendship group. He was the first to respond when we had a birthday party when we invited his whole class. He is a friend in the truest sense of the word. What a blessing. I'm glad I made that leap. I knew he was ready.
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