Picture the scene, you’re walking home after collecting the kids from school and you see someone your son knows very well, he calls out their name and their parent decides to pull their child to walk the opposite way (the long way, just to avoid the interaction.) You’re both fully aware what’s happening but you have no choice but to motivate your child to keep walking in the direction we were headed, even when your paths cross again awkwardly 10 minutes later.
Unfortunately this isn’t just a one off, it’s something we’ve experienced on quite a few occasions.
I’ve spoken primarily about Sonny and his struggles on my blog but haven’t really touched upon his eldest brother and the struggles he has of his very own. R, Sonny’s big brother is almost 9 years old and we are pretty certain that he is also on the Autism Spectrum, sitting somewhere along the lengthy queue for diagnosis. A process we are now familiar with.
R is extremely intelligent and creative and bright and caring and considerate and has so many amazing qualities but he struggles socially and finds making and keeping friends very difficult. He doesn’t completely grasp what skills are needed to keep a friendship going.
R can cope well in a learning environment and when play in structured but has trouble coping in unstructured settings, for example time spent in the playground. He finds it difficult to remember and follow rules of a game and can act in a way that others deem odd or over the top.
As a result R doesn’t have many friends at school, he’s pushed out from games and he’s rarely invited to birthday parties. We’re in the last week of term before Christmas and I’m yet to see a card with his name on the front.
He tells me he doesn’t care, he doesn’t need friends but I’m sure most of that is bravado, and a part of that is because he can can read me well enough to see the frustration, the pain in my eyes. Excluding others just because they are different or difficult is hurtful. It’s hurtful for the child and it’s hurtful for their families too!
R struggles with low self esteem and low self confidence. He can be a real perfectionist and at the same time a bit of a defeatist too, if he can’t do something extremely well or isn’t sure he can, he won’t bother at all. *my family reading this will laugh, sigh and say ‘I wonder where he gets that from’*
R likes facts, he’s very matter of fact himself, there’s no sugar coated fancy fairy cakes or anything like that, if you ask him a question, you’ll get an honest answer. He also takes things very literally and because of these things combined, he sees unfairness, inequality and as he says ‘double standards’ everywhere.
R doesn’t comprehend hierarchy or pecking orders instead seeing everyone on equal status and doesn’t understand why one rule applies to one person but not to another. This results in challenging behaviour and friction between him and other adults (teachers included.)
Despite all of his difficulties, he is my son and I adore him and it hurts me to see him rejected time and time again. Excluding my child doesn’t just hurt him, it ricochets and is felt throughout the family. To have my other children come home with piles of Christmas cards whilst he comes home empty handed.
It’s important to teach our children manners and kindness and how much difference they can make to others with their actions.
If you want to send R a card before Christmas get in touch.