How to help my child with Autism, make friends. “Mummy, ask Arthur if he likes me”

You don’t need me to tell you that friendships are so important. Friendships formed between anyone on the Spectrum, are particularly important and need to be nurtured. My biggest fear for my son is that he be bullied. This thought terrifies me. At the moment he is doing ok socially, he has a few regular friends, one best friend and even a girlfriend. Apparently she kisses him daily , takes his coat for him , seeks him out at play time and she is going to marry him .So he tells me.

He’s been invited to birthday parties . I remember his first party invitation . I was so happy I wanted to open the champagne. These things matter but they matter tremendously when your a parent of a special needs child.

Knowing that he has friends and is included in activities, makes me so happy and warm inside. I feel happy to leave him at school in the morning, knowing he will have a day forming meaningful relationships and not being left out. 

For some parents I guess school drop off can be extremely traumatic and I sympathise with those parents and children. I know I am blessed that my boy has friends but I do worry as he gets older , how he will fit in and will he still be able to form friendships. I worry how he will cope with social boundaries. At present he likes to stroke hair and will approach random people and play with their hair. Most people think its cute but I don,t think he will get away with this behaviour when he is an adult. 

As he gets older the gap between him and his peers may grow bigger and that worries me. At present they are 8 year old boys who share similar interests, playing dens, tag and football but as they grow into teenagers and develop opinions and complicated emotions , how will that work out for my boy. Where will he fit in. Will he cope. Will he be accepted for who he is. Where will he fit into society.  I worry about this all the time.

I will try my hardest to protect him from bad experiences but I also have to cut the apron strings and allow him to experience real life and learn how to deal with it for himself. It’s going to be a difficult task but I will try my best.

My son has a good friend at school. They have been friends since infants. They have regular play dates and cinema dates together and I have explained to my son that he is very lucky to have a friend like this. I try to nurture this friendship as much as I can, for my son, although he seems to be doing a pretty good job himself. This friend will protect my son from any of the other children that may be nasty or try to hurt my boy. This boy has got into trouble himself by protecting my boy. That kind of friendship is very special. I hope they remain friends for a long time. These are the friends we need to protect against the bullies. 

I have been volunteering at my sons school, in his class, and I remember the first time I met another little boy in my sons class. His name is Arthur. He too is on the spectrum. One day while at school my son asked me if I could ask Arthur if he likes him.  So I did. The reply was “I don’t want to be mean or anything, but no, not really”. When I asked why he replied, “I don’t get him. He likes balloons and I like lego”. I explained to Arthur that my son likes lego too, and ever since that day they have been close friends. Arthur will come for dinner regularly and my son will have play dates at his house. Its lovely to see. And they even share a love of balloons now too.

 The only problems we have encountered are that my son doesn’t seem to understand that it is ok for Arthur to be friends with the other children too. We will have to work on that. 

Another boy in my sons class, hates being touched and my son is the opposite. Very tactile. These two boys have to be supervised and often seperated during play time. There have been bites and harsh words exchanged, but learning that other people are not the same as us, is part of the rich tapestry of life and something we all learn as we develop. Children with Autism are no exception. 

In my quest to help my son form meaningful relationships and friendships, I have come across some useful resources that you may want to have a look at too. If you purchase through my links I may receive a small amount of commission but at no extra cost to you. 

Click on the images to view the books in more detail. 

One thing I have noticed about my son is his ability to form close bonds with people of all ages. He is quite happy to play with a two year old toddler but is equally happy to spend time with adults. He is very close to two of my best friends and is happy to spend time with them. 

Click on the image for more details about this book. 

In my experience the best way to help your child with Autism to make friends and keep them, is to ensure they understand the importance of friends. Create visuals or social stories to educate them in correct social conduct and maybe look at their interests and hobbies and find a club or after school activity that caters for that interest. This will give them a greater chance of meeting like minded children. Once they have formed friendships, continue to nurture these relationships by having regular play dates and dinner dates. 

Thankyou for reading and please do comment and share. 

 

 

Routine.When we say we are going to the beach , we must go to the beach.

The constant need for reassurance is another trait of my sons condition. He is not only obsessed with balloons but also loves the sea. Yesterday I told him that today we would go to the beach and all morning he has repeated the same question many times, “mummy are we going to the sea to paddle today “, He fixates on things and if I say we are going to do something, then that has to happen or he will become very distressed. Until what he is expecting to happen, actually happens , he will obsess and fixate on this until it comes into fruition . This is mentally exhausting for me as his mum however I do understand him . He needs to ask the same question as he is worried that the situation will change and he doesn’t cope well with situations changing. He asks the same question for reassurance that everything is staying as he expects. I am not sure if I should be answering his constant barrage of questioning or should I limit this . Personally I find that I repeat myself several times a day to offer him the reassurance that he seeks and ensure that he can cope . Maybe this is a mistake, the truth is I don’t know , but it is all a learning curve. Autism is a hidden disability that presents many daily challenges and all we can do is just take one day at a time and navigate our way through it together. Children and adults on the spectrum, all present very differently . Each one is an individual with their own set of needs and their own personality traits therefore there is no “one size fits all ” approach to managing this condition. At this point all I can advise is a lot of patience , follow your own instinct and once the kids are settled into bed , wine .

When he thinks he is the parent. β€œGood girl mummy , well done”

A phase that he is going through at the moment, is thinking he is the parent and he is in charge. If dinner is cooked to his satisfaction, he says “well done mummy, good girl”. This makes me smile so much. However this new phase has a more challenging aspect. When I decide I need a bit of me time in the evenings, to catch up on rubbish TV and maybe relax with a glass of wine, he will decide that I am not allowed to do this. I cuddle him to sleep every night and then I will go downstairs to watch TV or read a book, whatever. But, no , this is no longer an option for me as he has forbidden it. Now when I try to army crawl out of bed as soon as I think he is asleep, he will wake up, and demand that I stay in bed and that I am not allowed to go downstairs to watch TV. He has also told me on numerous occasions that I am not allowed out in the evenings with my friends. I think I have actually done this twice so far this year and on those nights he decided he wasn’t going to sleep and he stayed awake in protest telling his dad that he will wait for me to come home before he goes to sleep. Its lovely that he loves me so much so its all worth it. The way to deal with this kind of behaviour would be a warning that this is going to take place. Maybe a few days notice , I find counting on my fingers usually works as its very visual. It works a bit like this ……….”mummy home”, “mummy home”, “mummy out”. If this doesn’t work, a visual timetable could be useful showing the dates that you want to go out, or an egg timer, to count down to the moment when you are escaping for wine and TV. If all else fails you could try either just surrendering or worse still, banning chicken nuggets for a week !.

Birds and Bees . Todays Challenge, anything that makes a “buzz”

Today the weather is glorious. It is warm and sunny and everyone is feeling just a little bit more cheerful, including balloon boy. The day however has so far presented challenges, anything that makes a buzzing sound and my son goes into a frenzy of panic and runs inside to seek shelter. Can anyone relate ? It doesn’t matter if its a bee, a wasp, a tiny fly, or next doors vibrator, that’s it ….he goes into hiding with his hands over his eyes screaming. Bless his heart.

Life with a child on the Spectrum

My son “The boy who loves balloons “is aged 8 and is on the Autistic Spectrum.

At age 4 he was diagnosed. From that point, I, his mum, have embraced his diagnosis, educated myself in Autism and loved every minute I have spent with him.

This blog is where I hope to share our journey together. My mission is to make parents smile and laugh and bring a bit of humour to the subject of hidden disabilities. Most importantly I want parents to know they are not alone . I hope to be able to give friendly advice to parents and carers in the same situation and share experiences. I believe that as parents of children with additional needs, it is important to not feel isolated. I also believe that children and adults on the spectrum are truly amazing and deserve praise, support and recognition.

I hope to add something to this blog as regularly as I can . Please feel free to comment, ask questions and share experiences.

Love mum to the boy who loves balloons 🎈