My son and I have a wonderful group of families/friends that have children of all ages. Oddly enough, only one other with special needs. Nonetheless, my 8 yo. son get's an ample dose of play time with children ranging in ages 5 to 15. And all of my son's friends are crazy about him. I think the biggest factor for successful friendships is teaching your child that differences are what makes people special and to love ones self as well as others. My son's friends understand that he is speech delayed and develpmentally delayed. All of these things have been explained. What's most important to all of our friends is that we are fun and carefree. That we don't worry about "Autism" or anything else. We just do our thing and invite you to come along.I have to say that I am just the tiniest bit jealous of Jackie. It's wonderful, of course, that her son with autism has such an extraordinarily broad and successful social life. But quite frankly, my son doesn't.
Sure, there are kids down the street, and more kids at the Y, in the band, and so forth - and he sees those kids fairly often. But even when those kids are physically right here in the house, Tom really isn't interested. From time to time, one of those kids will ask him a question or invite him to play - and Tom's anxiety goes through the roof. When he's anxious, he'll run away, act silly, or even say "go away."
As a result, it's rare for anyone outside our family and tiny circle of close friends to see the "real" Tom - that warm, funny, interested guy we know. And because so few people know the real Tom, no one outside our little circle is "crazy about" him at all.
So, as the mom of a high functioning child with autism, I'm really at a loss. Social skills groups taught Tom how to share and take turns, and of course our day to day interactions with the wide world have built skills ranging from ordering from a menu to playing mini-golf. But with all those skills and experiences, I'm still in awe of moms like Jackie.
How DO you help a child with autism to make real friends?