Thursday, March 17, 2011

You Gotta Have Friends

Have you ever read a story or article and it leads you right into your own thoughts on that same subject?

This blog post at Special Needs Disability parenting BLOOM  made me think about the importance of friendships.  Both for us grown ups, and for children.

Zack and AJ are mostly in a self-contained classroom.  That is, they spend the majority of their schoolday in the autism room.  I am okay with that because they are in no way, shape or form read for the process and curriculum that comes with the regular classroom.  In the autism room they can go at their own speed and actually made more progress that way because there are special features installed to help curb their anxiety.

They do go to the regular classroom daily for a short time though.  (And it's with the regular classroom that went on the field trip to the Children's Museum.)

So right now, their best opportunity to make friends is with the other kids in the autism room.  Like AJ has already done, befriending Tyler.  And I have decided that is okay, for now.  Those kids are just their speed.  Those kids won't judge or mock or tease.  And while you are growing up, while it's important of course to have peers, it's also important to feel like you can be yourself and to be confident that you are a likeable person.

Everyone needs friends who are like them.  I mean that's how we pick our friends, even as adults, isn't it?  The people who we have the most in common with are the ones we are most likely to be BFFs with.  Well Zack and AJ are going to have more in common with the autism classroom children right now, than the kids in the typical kindergarten room.

Throughout a lifetime, friends come and friends go, because we change.  The kids they hang out with today are not the kids they'll hang out with in a couple of years, because they will all grow and change, at different rates.  That applies to typical kids too.  Loss of friendship is hard, but we all should accept it as a customary, healthy process, because it's an essential part of growing up.  Ideally, new friendships crop up to replace lost ones.  If you have less in common with someone you used to talk to every day, it is only natural that you won't talk to them as often.

Doesn't mean you don't like each other anymore.  Growing apart is a natural process of living.

I do hope that one day they can have actual friendships, actual relationships, with peers who are in the "typical" world.  It would mean the world to me for that to happen.  But it's okay too, to have friends who have special needs like them.  They need friends they can relate to.  Friends who can make them feel "normal" and "typical."

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