Saturday, July 9, 2011
Social Skills & the Autism Spectrum
Wow! Pretty impressive logic coming from my 10 year old. "You're a pretty smart boy!" I told him proudly.
He looked a little stunned for a moment, then responded, "Thanks! I know not to take insults to heart." Ouch. We were on our way to a social event, after all, and he's had his share of hurtful remarks, both intended and unintended. There was that familiar ache in my heart again. How can everyone not love my sweet boy the way I do?
"You know," I went on (always a mom who sees a teaching/reinforcement opportunity), "sometimes people say insults cause they're only playing with you. Like when people trash-talk when you're playing a game. It's not always meant to be hurtful. Sometimes people say little 'insults' cause they like you. They're just being silly and playful."
It's hard for him to know the difference between someone really being mean and just joking around. He used to come in the house in tears several times a day, because some kid in the neighborhood said something mean to him or he just didn't understand the social nuances. For the past year he's just stayed in the house, rather than deal with the meanness. The other kids see him as an easy target, and think it's funny when he cries or gets angry when they tease him. We make playdates with his school friends, he enjoys activities with the junior high group at church and we have one special little girl who lives a couple of blocks away who plays very nicely with him (we love her!).
I worry about his social skills when he grows up and has to go out into the world without me. Will he be that "weird guy" at work, the really smart computer geek with no clue how to carry on a conversation? Will he have a girlfriend? (At this point, girls are still yucky--at least in "that" way.) He's convinced that he and a couple of his buddies will have their own video game company. He's "not going to work for anybody else." Okay. We'll see how that goes.
Later that same evening, as I was bringing him back from his swim party, we saw a group of the kids from our street standing in a bunch on the corner. Kids out playing on a summer night. Except my kid is always the outsider. He waved at a couple of them as we drove past in the car. "Did they wave back?" I asked him.
"No," he sighed, "but at least they didn't run away."