Monday, June 29, 2015

We Are an Island

I remember back before our diagnosis, I had a list of things in my head that we were supposed to do:

  1. Join a mom's club
  2. Go to play dates 
  3. Host playdates
  4. Attend library groups
  5. Play at the park
  6. Enjoy Mommy nights out with friends.
I don't know where I got this list, it wasn't stuff that I did when I was super young but that was the list we were working off of and...

We were a horrible failure. 

Seriously, we got kicked out of the Mom's club because my son was "too rough" he was "too loud".

Play dates always ended in me hovering and him (again) being too rough or screaming.

When we hosted, I just didn't understand all these other kids who were taking every single thing out, putting it in their mouths and then throwing it into the center of the floor while their mom's talked about potty training and nursing schedules.

We screamed through the entire library's Read and Play session, we signed up once and only attended 3 times.

Parks were a place where I begged him to play and he ran away, always towards danger, never looking where he was going, usually ending with him running in front of a high swinging kid and getting knocked into next week.

Mom's nights out were a partial success. After being kicked out of a local Mom's club, I joined one that was more online and less judge-y and there were a few good Moms nights out I'd call a success. Of course they were rare because I couldn't attend often.

Now fast forward... we got a diagnosis (ahhhh! that makes sense!), OT, Speech, Baby Brother born, practice PreK, Special Ed PreK, Baby Brother Diagnosed as well,  PreK, K-5, NonPublic Placement... and NOW.

Those play date days are far far behind us and we never really got the trick of it. Since then the invitations to play and hang out are very few and far in between and most of the time we have to decline for scheduling reasons.  So now, here we are, 13 & 11 and I have no idea what I'm doing!

We were invited to come and play today, we know them from school, we like them but we've never been to their house and they have never been to ours (this is a universal truth for almost everyone we know). The boys didn't know what to expect and do and quite honestly, I didn't know what to expect and do.  We've been an island for so long, we don't exactly know how to change.  It's not really in my nature but I don't want my nature to limit my boys and I'm stuck.

There are many reasons why I'm worried about this, many of my own issues in my own mind, certainly enough for their own blog post so I'll save it for another day. I can't even say that the play date went badly, it was very nice because our host is one of the nicest (and smartest) people I've ever met. It was just awkward. I know I felt awkward, the boys surely picked up on that and maybe felt it a little themselves.

Now I'm left wondering how I can create a village for my boys? They will one day need a village, they probably need a village now.

How do we do it?

They say that if you've met one person with Autism, you've met ONE person with Autism. Autism is such a broad diagnosis and each person is extremely individualized. I have two boys with Autism who couldn't be any more different. They, themselves, don't really even work well together in the same village.

At one point I figured that since my youngest was high functioning and very social, he would probably do well to make friends with typical peers. Except that he doesn't fit in and now that he is older, most boys his age just look at him like "what are you talking about?". It's not working, he doesn't have any friends and now he is heading in to middle school and it's not exactly going to be an easy road for him.

Around the same time, my oldest was really struggling and needed a school with more consistency and routine. He went to a non-public school and I stressed about it. It's been great for his anxiety, aggression and behavior and he is probably even accessing his education better (although at a slower pace). The price for that he regresses, isn't moving forward with his interests, goes into his "bubble" more and has completely fallen away from things that would be considered "normal" or "natural" for a 13 year old.  His current classmates probably mirror him best in temperament, educational and communication level and at the same time, they don't.

So I continue to try and step outside my own comfort zone and keep trying. More times than not, everything goes perfectly fine and I still feel like it didn't work.  I don't know, I guess I just thought that since I had the to do list it would all be easy. I thought that by the time we got to ages 13 and 11, we would have a core group of friends that we would hang with. The mom's would sit pool side and chat and relax while the kids ran around and played. That there would come a time when I could let down my guard and relax a little. The reality is that the only time I can let down my guard and relax is when we are on our own little island, sequestered within the walls of our home.

It's not what I want for them, it's not what I want for us. We just don't "fit" anywhere and I fear that our village is out there, in pieces, they are their own island.

Links I found on Pinterest...

Seven Social Skills Worksheets for ASD Kids Who are Socially Isolated

Social skills card teaching activity for children with ASD who are isolated

5 Things Special Needs Moms Won’t Tell You

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