Friday, March 22, 2013

Seeing Our Son in a Different Light

Last night was both fun and challenging all at once.  The fourth grade put on a performance about Texas.  Our son was so excited since he not only got to sing, but also got to dance and play his guitar.  It was the first time in a long time that we got to see him in a social setting with his peers in quite a while.  He did a wonderful job and was full of expression and everyone could tell that he really was enjoying every aspect of it.  As parents, we noticed a big difference of our son's social behavior in comparison to other children his age.  It was an eye opener for sure.  Even with those social differences, we were proud of him.

After the program, things started to fall apart and it was in our son's classroom that I realized the overstimulation was a bit much for him.  There was an incident earlier that he had encountered with a friend that was nagging at him.  He never said anything of it until that moment.  The anxiety was overwhelming and he couldn't contain it anymore.  His friend had told our son that he wasn't going to be his friend anymore if our son shared information that he himself wanted to share with others.  He was devastated and deeply hurt.  His friend has been a friend since kindergarten and our son is quite possessive of his friendship and doesn't want him having any deep relationships that don't include him and this is pushing his friend away.  We were in the fourth grade hall when he let it all out, exclaiming how a girl was interfering with their friendship and how she told him that she wanted him to stay away from his best friend so she could be his sole friend(this is how he saw it) all the while the parent of that very girl was standing next to him, listening to every word.  It was shortly after that I realized that she was the parent of the child that he was so angry with and she heard all of it.  I didn't know what to do or say.  All I could think of was how that parent may have felt while she listened to our son rant and rave of how this girl was taking over their relationship and even after trying to convince him that she was probably not doing that, he began to yell, "I'm not lying, she doesn't want me to be his friend!".  I apologized to her for our son's actions, but In her eyes I'm sure it appeared as we had an out of control child, who was being rude.  I wanted to explain that he is dealing with Autism, but because he was right there, I was stuck.  I didn't know what to do.  All I knew is that I had to remove him from that hallway before it turned into an all out meltdown.  He was already in tears in front of his peers and exclaiming quite loudly his situation and we had to leave.  Some of his peers were laughing and calling him cry baby as we were walking away and I was devastated for our son.  I left our girls with my husband and told our son that we needed to go for a walk.  It was on our walk that we met the special Ed teacher and she was a tremendous help.  I watched her talk with him, how she talked calmly, patiently and showed him that worrying about this was not going to fix it.  Talking with his friend tomorrow would be the best solution.  I saw how she used real life situations to show him that how he was perceiving the situation was not really how things were.  He calmed down, took some deep calming breaths and was able to communicate his feelings.  I'm so thankful for that teacher.  My patience level at the moment we met in the hall was at an all time low.  I realize now, that if I had not been so quick to try and stop his reaction and actually listen to what he was saying and have some patience with him, that it may not have escalated to the point it had.

Last night was an eye opener.  We treat our son no different than our other two kids and it isn't until we are in public with his peers that the differences are very apparent.  It's hard seeing him this way as a parent.  I just want to fix the problem, make it go away, make people accept him the way we do, but this is his journey and we are here to guide him though it.  He doesn't need to be fixed, he just needs some direction, understanding, patience and love.

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