Sunday, June 29, 2008

Friends and Autism--is it an oxymoron?

I’m not sure if other people can relate, but as a mom of autistic children I have found it extremely difficult to meet new people and friends. In the early years before anyone could tell that my kids had autism or social and communication issues (due to their young age), I found it easy to go to a favorite park and share quality time with other women. It was easy to talk about parenting, share snacks, and even meet for occasional dinners (wow, a mommy night out!). But ever since my daughter’s diagnosis, and I do remember the very harsh day when Meghan first “appeared” to have “issues,” it was as if all of a sudden we were lepers. Now I certainly did and do understand the reasoning behind the snobbery, people can’t be blamed for whom their children choose to play with. But to be openly shunned by my own peers (grown, educated adults--I might add) and being that I was still the very same woman that I was just the day before: not autistic and very much social. I don’t know, maybe I’m a bit too sensitive—do I have an attitude?

But what I do know is that I have gone down a different path than my peers … one day we are all hanging out at our favorite park with our kids and life is nice and, well boring … then one day while the rest of my peers were happily headed off to “mommy and me” classes and mom groups, I’m, most grudgingly, running off to "support" groups; they are with their kids enjoying "story time" at the library or bookstore, I can be found in a strange corner of the bookstore knee deep in everything from Autism: the facts, and Behavioral Issues and Young Children with Autism, learning everything from "who my children were" to the "workings of floor play and how to rescue your autistic child from the evils of her own world …"

And let's not even mention the, um, "missing" birthday party invites from my children’s classmates—never got one, not one! No attitude, just fact!

What seems interesting is that even some parents of typically developing children can relate to having some of the same difficulties meeting new friends/people (behavioral issues, personality conflicts)--you too?

Any thoughts or input on your social life with or without autistic children?


Anonymous said...

You are truly an inspiration to Moms period. This coming from one of your friends who knows your struggles first hand. I wish you well with this and hope life brings you great love and good wishes always. Angel

Bonnie Sayers (autismfamily) said...

I know about those birthday parties. My 13 year old was in gen ed 1-5 grade and no birthday parties, but I don't think any of the kids had any.

We had a bowling party for his tenth and not one kid showed up. Here it is more of a culture/language issue and not many families have cars and no one understood what RSVP meant.

Luckily we went two days later on Amtrak down to San Diego to Sea World and I hired someone to assist for two days and that helped a lot. We also met other families with kids on the spectrum.