Hey all, head on over to Melissa's and purchase some great patterns donated by Greta, Danette and Melissa herself. The proceeds from the patterns go towards something near and dear to my heart, Autism Awareness. Using the colored puzzle pattern from the Autism Awareness Ribbon, I made a button for the cause.
I really don't mean to sound like a whiner, but this couldn't have hit at a better time for me. I've really been struggling this week with the issue of my son, Daniel, being left out because he's not "like the other kids". As Asperger's goes, Daniel has had a lot of help since he was three. We're lucky. It could be a lot worse. He's always been in a mainstream school. He's a sweet and caring boy who has a hard time with dialog. He talks at you, not to you, endlessly.... about numbers and facts that other kids find weird. We're working on it. But how much can we do when what he needs is socialization and the other kids don't like playing with him? It hurts to see him with a group of other children and they completely ignore him. I don't blame the kids, they are just kids after all, but it hurts all the same.
Thanks to Katy, I've told the school about Circle of Friends and they are going to start the program with Daniel next year. We've had problems with bullying at the school, he has few friends (though if you ask him, his best friends are anyone who talks to him for more than a half an hour) and he's starting to realize he's the outsider.
This past weekend I experienced the straw that broke the camel's back. I blame myself partly for failing to open my mouth when I should have and just letting things go (which if you knew me, is pretty hard to believe) and not working harder to make people around us more aware of Daniel's diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism. In that respect, I failed my son and now it's coming back to bite me in the arse.
Let me explain. We've lived in this neighborhood for almost two years. We call it little America because there are quite a few military families on this hill with us. There are three other boys that live here. They are all Daniel's age and all live within a few yards of each other. Except for my next-door neighbor, who is a close friend, Daniel has been left out of every invitation list since we got here. Not just birthday parties, but trips to the pool, the movies... you name it. The three other boys are very close friends. I'll admit, Daniel would prefer to hide out in his room alone, but wouldn't you if no one wanted to talk to you about the only things you found interesting and no one wanted to play with you because you are "weird"? He loves when they play game boy, pokemon or chess with him. He's just not into sports. We tried for a few years. He has said he'd like to try again next season, but I think it's more to fit in than anything. We'll give it a go though.
This past Saturday he was left out again and this time I really got angry over it. I've bawled every day over it. I'm just so tired of it. Daniel is starting to realize he's getting left out and there is nothing that rips my heart out more than to see him hurt. He is a very kind boy who has no clue as to why he's not accepted more. He does know about Asperger's. We've been very open with him, but he doesn't understand that's why no one wants to spend time with him.
This party was a big camp-out in the back yard. The birthday boy comes to play with Daniel only when the other two boys aren't home. When the other boys come looking for him they all leave within a few minutes and leave Daniel alone again. This boy has spent the night in our home but the invitation has never been reciprocated though the other boys spend the night together often. I don't blame the kids. And I understand a parent saying, "Okay... who do you want to invite?" But c'mon!! How can we teach our kids understanding, tolerance and compassion if we let them exclude a child that you know is left out of everything except when it's convenient? How do you let your child exclude this boy even when you know about the Asperger's?! I just don't get it! Every other kid in the neighborhood, even girls, were invited to this party. Everyone but Daniel. I'm not one that can hide my anger. When I'm angry there's no doubt because it's written all over my face. The mother came out to the bus stop yesterday morning and I was very rude to her. It was the first time I'd seen her since I found out about the party. I completely ignored her and she definitely knew it. There was no doubt in her mind that I was angry with her when she walked away. I was afraid that if I said anything I would start bawling and blow up in front of all the kids. Part of me wants to go talk to her, but I know it wouldn't do any good. There'd be justifications and excuses or she'd feel really bad about it and I really don't want to do that to someone either. I really do blame myself for not making people more aware. On top of that they're moving back to the States next month, so I can't help but think what's the use? I know I need to go apologize to her for treating her the way I did yesterday, but I'm still angry and I want to be able to do it without the anger showing it's ugly face.
Anyway... please! If you know a child with Autism and you have children that age, please, educate yourself and your child and show some compassion. I can tell you as a mom, there is nothing more heartbreaking than to see your child shunned for something he can't help.