I know there are many perspectives on how friendships should be initiated and maintained for autistic kids and adults, but this is mine. I am not saying mine is right or wrong, I am saying this what I think is best for Peyton. Any autistic parent of a high functioning child will tell you, there is blessing as well as heartaches when they are high functioning. I have discussed in other blogs, both sides of this in regards to other issues. This is very true with friendships. Peyton wants to have friends and he is a sweet kid, he has a big heart and understands the concept of friendships. He has seen his siblings have friends, his sister is super social and when she was still at home had friends over all the time. In fact at times I had her friends actually living with us, for a variety of reasons, so Peyton was blessed by having ” a big extended family” He has many times expressed he wants friends, he has them, and when he was young he had a best friend who lived across the street. They did the “typical” kid things. They would play games, go places together, stay over etc etc…but as they got around 9 ish their worlds started to become very different, his friend was not autistic so he was progressing at a much different rate than Peyton. I remember seeing The hurt in Peyton’s eyes when his buddy no longer wanted to play with him. Our front doors faced each other and that made it harder as Peyton would see him head off with other kids. I tried to explain to him, it would be ok, but words didn’t heal. My daughter and her friends were awesome as they started to do more things with him, such as take him to movies etc…this somewhat eased the hurt but didn’t really fill the hole.
When Mark and I moved into our neighborhood 3 1/2 years ago, it was new, not many houses were built yet and I remember Praying that kids who moved in would be open to being his friend. As houses got built and people moved in, we really didn’t have many kids right around us. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad…the good side was he wouldn’t feel left out watching other kids hang out, the bad was their wasn’t as much of an opportunity for him find a friend. We decided we would go and find the friends…Peyton was active in a Church youth group and we got him involved in a bowling league. The league was great as it had special needs as well those who aren’t. He made friends and enjoyed himself. One boy in particular has been awesome, Steven…he has Parents who have become our friends as well. Steven is a great kid, respectful, a goal setter and has a great heart. I feel like their friendship is good for both, he is an example to Peyton and at same time Peyton teaches him patience with special needs kids. we also have been lucky as a boy who also has special needs, has moved in up the street from us and Peyton has become friends with him. I feel like this is a learning friendship where they each learn from each other as well. It’s great to hear them laughing and acting like teenage boys. Peyton wrote a blog about his special needs youth group he attends and this has been a great out for him as well. We recently joined an autism share group and I am looking forward to being active, both for us as parents and well as Peyton making more friends. Peyton has a tough road ahead of him as an adult, and I may be a bit over protective at times, although Mark helps balance me out, or at least tries….. My feeling is he has enough hardships to over come in life, I want to make life as smooth as I can now. I know he needs to have friends and do things…I also know he can and will be manipulated and used in his life. I am trying to balance his friendships where he learns not everyone comes from the right place, but there many who do.