June 06, 2014

A Difference of Parties

In the last month, the Little Man and I attended two parties - which is a pretty big deal since I don't usually go out much. While both were family-friendly and had children in attendance, they were very different.
I have nothing against these hosts or guests, they were just very different atmospheres for different reasons.

One party, with the exception of one other child, was all NTs (as far as I know). The children's ages ranged from 10 months or so to about 6 years. At first other kids interacted with him. They would ask him questions, but he did not respond quickly enough. By the time he answered the first one, they were already asking something else. He just couldn't keep up. They reacted by simply walking away. By the time he would go up to them to try to interact, he was ignored. Even I, just observing, was pretty shocked by how quickly it all happened. He had, quite literally, only one chance to get it right and didn't manage. He shrugged his shoulders and went to play on his own. Other kids took toys out of his hands or told him he wasn't allowed to touch certain things.

The other party was more autistic friendly. The host's son is autistic, so he understands and made it inviting. There was a chill out/quiet space. The son was in attendance, as was his (also autistic) friend. There were other younger children who may or may not have also been autistic.

The big difference here is that when my son went to talk to people, they waited patiently for him to express himself. If they didn't understand (which happens often because of his apraxia), they asked him to repeat and waited. They made sure they understood what he was trying to say and answered. He too, waited for them to respond. All the kids shared toys and took turns. My son did not end up shrugging his shoulders and walking off. He did try to bolt at one point, but that's when I knew it was time to get going!

The difference was like night and day.

So while both were just short trips to parties, it makes me wonder about inclusion and the bigger world out there. I know kids are kids, but I'm surprised at how few chances one gets to "get it right" socially. And it scares me for the Little Man. I don't want to see him shrugging and walking off, because that doesn't help anyone or teach anyone anything. He'll just not understand why he doesn't fit in and kids will just ostracize him because he doesn't act socially perfect. I know at some point he will find his tribe of understanding people, but it's tough in the meantime.

At the moment, he's protected by the bubble that is his autism school, but I can't keep him in a bubble forever. Anyway, he is still young and has much to learn. It will be ok for now and I have to hope for the best for the future. 

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