A Difficult Week

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One of the Boy’s biggest problem areas at school is playtime. This isn’t surprising as the playground is crowded and noisy – not to mention the unpredictability of unstructured play which autistic children struggle to cope with. He is a sociable child, it’s just that he struggles with the social rules that govern our society especially those which are unwritten.

Last Thursday we learned he’d had a ‘tricky’ afternoon. He’d been throwing stuff and pushing tables over in the classroom. There was no obvious reason for his behaviour, as is often the case. As usual I worried because this kind of behaviour tells me something is wrong. There’s always a reason for challenging behaviour so we tried to talk to The Boy about what had upset him but within seconds he started screeching like an owl so knew we left it. However, the following day we had our answer…

The Boy has been friends with a boy in his class and for the last few months it’s been ALL about this child. However, we were informed last week that the child’s parents had been into school to make a complaint against our son. They said their son had gone home saying that The Boy had hurt him at playtime. What their son didn’t tell them was that he (along with another child) provoked a reaction from The Boy by deliberately and repeatedly poking him. The reason The Boy had a meltdown in the classroom was because he was responding to what had happened on the yard. Unable to verbalize how he felt, he reacted in the only way he knows how and that’s to lash out.

All complaints are taken seriously by the school and an investigation took place. Witnesses said The Boy had been provoked and reacted to it.

I managed a small conversation with The Boy and he simply said his friend had ‘kicked him out of his group’ and told him he didn’t want to be his friend anymore.

My heart sank as all parent’s hearts sink when their child is ostracized in this manner.

Children fall in and out of friendships and there is nothing unusual about that but it’s no secret that The Boy has autism and there’s always a niggle of doubt about parents not wanting their children to have a friendship with him. This isn’t me being neurotic. The ‘niggles’ aren’t unfounded as it’s already happened with a parent who stopped talking to me as soon as I told her The Boy had been diagnosed with autism. The next day she looked straight through me as if I wasn’t there and after a few days of the same treatment it finally dawned on me why she was blanking me. It was the autism.

Is that what’s happened here? I don’t know. I do accept that I am overly sensitive at the best of times but, in my mind, most boys of this age will have scuffles on the playground and several times a week at that. Whatever The Boy did on the yard wasn’t considered serious enough for parents to be informed as is the policy when one child significantly hurts another yet these parents felt it necessary to complain so, yes, I can’t help but wonder why.

My son doesn’t instigate. He’s not vindictive nor a bully but he does react when provoked and I don’t blame him. All I can do is try and encourage him to walk away next time but as any autism parent knows, this is an impossible ask.

The loss of this friendship was a big deal for him but it explains the recent decline in his behaviour at school and at home. Had it not been for the child’s parents going in to complain we may still be wondering what the problem is so, in that respect, they did us a favour though I can’t help but wonder how it felt for them to learn that their son wasn’t the victim at all. That, actually, he was the instigator.

Children of this age normally drift in and out of friendships. Most parents will have experienced the ‘friends one minute and falling out the next’ only to be the best of friends again a few day later but from experience, I know that some autistic children are unable to forgive as easily as a neurotypical child and incidents are rarely forgotten. They remain in their memories for the rest of their lives.

Friendship is a difficult area for autistic people. Some make friends easily but struggle to maintain friendships. Others struggle to make friends in the first place. The Boy makes friends easily enough but there does seem to be difficulty in maintaining those friendships. Some children are unable to deal with his mood swings and steer clear of him. Sometimes he drifts in and out of friendships mostly because a child isn’t willing to play games on his terms, as is common in autism.

Those children who understand his autism (thanks to understanding parents) take it in their stride. They know he has meltdowns and why he has them and they don’t make a massive deal about it. They focus on the part of him that makes them want to be his friend in the first place. Those are the friends he needs.

We’re all social beings – even us misfits – and that’s why you’ll find us lurking on the internet where we can feel that we belong because people speak our language. Even I, Mrs Misfit of Misfitington, have a deep seated need to fit into this world in some meaningful way. It’s primeval instinct, after all.

All I want is for my son to feel that he belongs here because we all belong here. God willing, there will always be a special friend who will watch his back as well as their own.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”~ A.A Milne

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Sons, Sand & Sauvignon

 

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21 thoughts on “A Difficult Week

  1. This sounds so tough. As you say, friendships can be a bit hit and miss at this age anyway, but it’s tougher for your little one. Hope he’s ok. Once again you’ve handled it well. xx

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  2. Oh gosh it’s hard to read…….it’s *almost* acceptable that kids can be mean and hurtful but in today’s knowledge and understandings it’s appalling to read that parents are inflicting their prejudices into their young children’s minds. Kids will be kids and yes, unfortunately they can be cruel but children of your lads age should be able to make up their own minds who they want to be mates without maybe hearing adult talk and influences.
    The playground can be a most daunting place for any child, let alone a child who finds social experiences hard to understand and enjoy free unstructured play. Thank goodness the school were observant as to what was going on but I’m sure this is of no consultation to your little lad who has now lost his *friend*.
    I’m hoping that he does have a small circle of peers who accepts him for who he is and allows him to be the child he wants to be. At least he has a very supportive family around him and the very safe space of his magnificent bedroom to come home to after the school day.
    Big loves xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks lovely, I HATED the playground and lurked on the perimeters (like I do now lol) The Boy loves the playground but the stimulus is too much for him to handle so he struggles. There are children who accept him for who he is, thankfully and that acceptance is also down to their parents who take the time to understand autism. This goes a long way to make up for those who don’t. xxxxxx

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  3. I’m really glad he was vindicated and the other children got their comeuppance. It’s so very hard isn’t it? I remember my boy wasn’t invited to things – sometimes being the only one not included. My daughter was…but she’s quite anti-social! School and friendships are a complete minefield.

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    • They really are, Stella. I thought my school woes were behind me when I left but having children (especially The Boy) brings all those feelings back. That must have been hard on your son and heartbreaking for you. x

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  4. Poor boy, what a complicated and upsetting situation for him to find himself in. I’m so glad that at least it was discovered that he wasn’t the one to blame.
    I hope the nice kids who understand him continue to be his friend and those nasty parents who judge can sod off!

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    • Thanks Sarah, as i said, I can’t help but be sensitive about it given what happened before. There will always be those who are judgmental but as long as there are those who understand or at least try to, he’ll be OK.

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  5. Thank goodness it got sorted! I recall daughter getting bullied at primary school by a gang of girls. Remember walking past the school at playtime and seeing her sitting on the wall all on her own. Went home and cried and cried. It breaks your heart. I hope The Boy makes new and nicer friends. Bless.

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    • Thanks Carol, I was bullied too and it’s a terrible thing to go through and girls are often the worst offenders when it comes to bullying. 😦

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  6. Must be so difficult.and confusing time. I hate unwritten rules. H
    It is muat be awful being intaganised and who wouldn’t react. It us such a difficult time. Only in my adults have I slolwly learnt to deal with anger. I know what you mean about being socially even though you are not a typical social person I love being around people even if it’s in the shopping place on 8 o’clock at night just to be with presents with someone even if it’s not talking with them I need that sense of being with someone. I don’t necessarily mean that to be so sure you have to talk it’s just so do you feel that presents that’s important for me as an autistic person. X #spectrumSunday

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  7. Oh hun, what a difficult time. I really have nothing to offer in way of advice, but I really hope that the little man manages to move on slowly from this experience. It is so hard to see your children upset isn’t it?! And trying to help a child that may not completely understand the complexities of other peoples behaviour must be really tough. Hayden only really has one friend and doesn’t really pay attention to anyone else. I’m sure this will change with time though. Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday lovely Hope you join me again this week xx

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  8. This is so tough. I know I will react exactly in the same way when my boy starts forming friendships. He’s 3 at the moment and doesn’t really interact with peers much. Big hugs to you and him. #SpectrumSunday

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  9. Gosh, I cant believe someone would blank you based on your son having autism. How terrible. My son has just been diagnosed and there is so much I identify with here – particularly on him being social, but not understanding the rules.

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