Who needs friends? Well, for years I thought Aiden did. He always struggled to make friends, let alone keep them, he was never invited to a birthday party or a play date and as for sleepovers, well he’s 18 and we’re still waiting!
The only kids he ever socialised with were my friends kids – because they had no choice, and over the years they grew to accept him! You certainly find out who your real friends are when you have a child with additional needs!
Anyway, after years of desperately trying to get him some friends, and feeling really sad for him, it turns out he’s actually, genuinely not bothered. Aidens’ concept of friends is very different to ours, therefore, that need for friends, as we know them, is just not there. This was incredibly hard for me to understand especially when I, desperately need my friends and the busyness of people around me.
Just to be clear, I know this is not the case for all children on the spectrum and many become truly distraught with their struggles over friendships. I see it all the time at the school where I work, and for that reason, I now completely accept that this aspect, for Aiden, and those like him, is a positive one! All those years of worry, when I should have been celebrating!
Let me give you an example of Aidens’ idea of friends from just this week.
We went to the cinema as a family along with another family (family friends). I tell the kids to choose their seats. Aiden chose a seat on the end of a row, away from everyone else and placed his popcorn on the seat next to him. ‘Aiden’, I say, ‘your friend, Abby, would like to sit next to you?’ To which he replies ‘I’m sorry, my friend ‘Popcorn’ is already sitting there and I like popcorn more than I like Abby!’ Now you can see why we’ve lost so many friends over the years!
The only person that matters to Aiden, is Aiden! He can’t put himself in someone else’s shoes, to understand how they might feel and therefore holds no guilt – what a lovely place that must be!
Aiden is happy with who he is! He never questions it, so why should I?
When we try to make kids conform, we have to be mindful about who we are doing it for, is it for their benefit or is it for ours?
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