My kids are all pretty close in age(roughly 2 years between each of them)-so when one of them has a friend over, they all consider them their friend as well. With the exception of Sam-who, is starting to separate from the pack. He will be thirteen this year..and considers himself quite
Now having known my children all of their lives, I'm pretty used to them. So Oscar's stimming and eeeeing are a regular part of our lives. The same goes for Sam's very sensitive nature, Lily's tenacity and Zoe's tendency to go mute in stressful situations. I don't really think about these things (unless they are being discussed-i.e. IEP meetings, school , therapy etc.) because they are just a part of what makes my kids...well, my kids. So, I was pretty surprised when one of those boys said to Sam.."Hey...does Oscar have autism?" "Yes, yes he does"..."Oh." "So do I." "You do?.."Yes, yes I do." "But you don't look like it." "Well...I draw a lot." "Oh..(and after a moment)...so, when I get home I'm gonna call my girlfriend....do you have a girlfriend?" "Yes.." (12 years old and already posturing!) and that was the end of it. If only it were that simple for the rest of the world.
We had Oscar's annual IEP meeting last week. Next year is his last year of elementary school so we have spent some time talking about preparing for middle school. One thing was said (that keeps reverberating in my brain) that in a way bothers me - "We have to let the teachers know that Oscar is not like Sam."..*sigh* Logically, I know what was meant by that. My boy struggles with pragmatic language . He has extreme stress and anxiety-which comes out in the form of stimming and laughing. Logically, I get it-I do....sort of. But on the other hand...on the other hand It feels like a dismissal....as if they were really saying "You had better warn them not to expect too much." It left me feeling kind of empty...and a little sad. . Yes, Oscar does face more challenges than his brother or sisters. He does not always have an easy time of it. The boy frets and is anxious..he WORRIES.....And yet, at the same time he has such humor..and a certain confidence in himself that none of my other kids have. "Mama?" "Yeah bud?" "Do you want to know my favorite body part?" "Your favorite body part?" "Yeah...it's my nipples! hahahahaha...I'm gonna make mine shine!" and as he grabs his chest and growls.."shiny shiny nipples..hahahahahaha! Do I make you laugh Mama?" "You do" "Because I'm funny!" "You are." "hahahahaha and I have shiny nipples!" "well o.k.!." Of course he's not like Sam. He's like himself and that's alright.
About a week after Sam had that talk with his friend, both he and his brother came over-and everyone went out to play. Everyone. There was no treating anyone differently..no excluding..or weirdness. It was as it always had been..a bunch of kids playing and yelling..and occasionally one eeeing.