This earlier post sheds some light on why watching my son play with Sophie the Sea Lion last Sunday resonated so deeply.
All the kids on my cul-de-sac are playing outside… all the kids except my youngest, who has Autism. At this point I know better than to make him go outside. In a bit I will, but he just got home from school and I know he needs time to decompress. Sometimes it breaks my heart to see him be so isolated, hear the joyful shrieks coming from outside while I watch him playing alone in the den, but I know that is about ME. At the moment it doesn’t bother HIM. I remind myself that this alone time is actually what he needs after a long, taxing day at school where he had to interact with people, navigate rules, struggle to pay attention, and constantly regulate his behavior. The problem is that what usually happens is in an hour or so after he has recharged his batteries he will suddenly decide he wants to go outside and see the other kids. Sadly, that tends to be when the other kids decide they are done and ready to go inside. And then he cries and cries, and I cry with him. So today, to avoid the inevitable tears, I will try to encourage him to go outside and play after allowing 30 minutes of down time. I just hope that the other kids are still out there.
It is so painful sometimes, watching my son interact, attempt to interact, or refuse to interact, with those other children. It’s not that I don’t love or accept him for who he is, but it hurts when I see him struggle. He has a dynamic personality (VERY not boring!), is a natural performer, and can be quite engaging. I want others to see that~ despite the fact that he is still working at learning social skills, handling frustration, and understanding that some bodily function jokes are NOT appropriate. EVER. Continue reading