For our family, the most heartbreaking manifestation of Asperger Syndrome is the severe absence of social skills #1 Son displays. We're certainly not alone; parents often report that a lack of friends, especially around the middle school years, was the sign that led them to seek professional help (for their children).
The stories strike an astonishingly similar chord with all of us, and while they don't make me feel particularly better with respect to our own individual child, hearing someone else talk about the school bullies, or the exclusionary tactics of kids, or labels means we have an alliance. And alliances sometimes are what we need as parents to move ahead instead of behind.
Friends are important. Think back to someone you have known for a long, long time. I have two such friends who I have known since preschool. Preschool! That's over 35 years. We've walked the malls, ridden our horses, danced to INXS, scrapped on minute and shared the next, but always, always, we've been friends. Now we lean on each other in adult ways; offering support for troubling life changes, sharing a virtual cheers when one of us turns 40, and knowing with all certainty that should something happen, the others would be there, because that's what we do.
Wolf doesn't have that person.
When kids are little, we sort of force them to play with each other. Moms gather for coffee while our kids stumble around, battle over toys and a few years later each other's "best friends". When kids are school age and able to discern what they want in a friend (hopefully positive), children with Asperger Syndrome are suddenly on the outside, even within the Mom-Coffee circle of kids he or she has "played" with since infancy. We don't feel as if we can force our chidren to play together, yet it is so heartbreakingly maddening to be a parent on either side, I am sure.
Yukon and I are raising Bear to be more sensitive to all kids' differences, and yet we notice now that at five he does decide who he wants to play with, or not. He is well-liked by everyone, a switch from Wolf's childhood, but I want him to understand how difficult friendship can be for some people. I want him to understand how it feels to be on the outside looking in, and to be a friend. A true friend, if even for an hour.
Kindness is a family value.