Autism and friendship

I remember watching my daughter when she was young, sifting sand through her fingers and watching it fall, right beside a group of kids her age. They would be digging and pouring and building together and she would be cupping and lifting and watching sand separate.

Never once did she look their way or wonder how she might join in to a game considered fun by any three year-old whose toes have touched sand. I wondered if she would ever have friends, if she would ever want to make them, if she would ever know how.

Now she is a teenager and parenting during the making and keeping of friends is a little bit like walking a tightrope. Youwalking a tightrope tiptoe along, hope to maintain a balance between offering love and support, and encouraging independence and confidence.

And then you realize having a teenager with autism is like walking a tightrope with no net.

To be the parent my daughter needs me to be I have to send her off into the world each day. I have to hope that people are kind, accepting and forgiving. I have to cross my fingers and toes that her path crosses people who are understanding and supportive.

Thank goodness for my daughter, my sanity and her high school career, she has found friendship. She has found, not just someone who is nice and sweet and answers the phone when she calls (even if it is one time too many), but someone who is truly a friend.

My sweet girl has found someone who sees past her autism, makes sure she is included and speaks up when she is not. She has found someone who likes her for the amazing person I see each and everyday, who offers her patience and understanding and a smile, no matter what.

I don’t think her friend will ever truly realize the gift she has given to all of us. The “net” she has provided, not only to my daughter, but to me as well.

The tightrope walk of raising a teenager with autism is just a little bit easier knowing she has a true friend keeping her balanced each day.

About Jessica

Jessica is a 30-something mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. On any given day you will find her taxi-ing a teenager, mopping up the latest "art project" and trying to remember when she turned the crock pot on… all the while, looking for the closest Starbucks drive thru. Jessica Watson can also be found at her personal blog Four Plus an Angel, on twitter (@jessbwatson) and on Pinterest.

8 thoughts on “Autism and friendship

  1. It always very enlightening to read something that Jess writes .. it always seems to brighten my day. Thanks for that Jess !

  2. I love the tightrope analogy.My son is not a teenager (yet) and continues to sift sand through his fingers while the other kids play beside him. The only thing that makes it less painful is knowing he has a brother that will stand beside him always, no matter what. I cannot begin to predict what lies ahead in terms of friendships for him, but your story offers so much hope that it’s hard not dream big that he too will one day find that kind of acceptance.

    Thank you.

  3. I can so understand just how much of a relief it is to find the type of kid who’s patient and accepting, to help your daughter learn about friendships and experience them at her own speed. It can make all the difference in the world, and I’m really glad that she has someone like that in her life.

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  6. My youngest son is 22. He was first diagnosed with ASD when he was 10. Last year he was assessed. It was discovered that he experienced anxiety in the 98th percentile. Basically, he experienced socialization in permanent panic mode. His doctor started him on proprolanalol, to reduce his heart rate. In is still in clinical testing for treatment of ASD symptoms. But, an old drug, it’s side-effects are well-known, so it is safe. In combination with probiotics, my son’s social skill levels have soared. The causes of ASD may be studied for decades, but safe treatments for its symptoms are available.

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