My daughter doesn’t play with other children the same way that most kids do.
In fact, up until recently I wondered if she cared to be around her friends at all. I wondered if the other children cared whether or not Rory was there too. She is very good about playing near other children. She is always very gentle and never aggressive, but she doesn’t like to play pretend like most little girls her age and she can’t really communicate directly with other kids. I would have the thought whenever we were on a playdate with a friend whose child was typically developing, but usually I would push it to the back of my mind because it was too painful and I didn’t know how to find the answer anyway.
Then one evening I was sitting at the restaurant, Birch, with my husband and some of our friends and as we waited for our burgers and milkshakes I received a text message. In the message my friend said that her son had been looking at a picture of Rory that hangs on their refrigerator and he said “That’s my best friend, Rory”. She said “Yes. Isn’t she sweet?” and her son responded “Yes, and kind. I love her.”. I immediately burst into tears at the dinner table. I think that everyone I was with thought I was either crazy or someone had just died. I was just so overjoyed that another child could see Rory for who she is and loved her for it. It made me so happy that he enjoyed spending time with her and wanted to keep trying to interact with her, even if she doesn’t respond like most children he plays with. I felt so reassured.
Not only did this simple text message give me hope for Rory in regards to her peers, it also made me feel overwhelmingly hopeful about the men and women that are parenting my daughter’s friends. They are showing their little ones to be open-minded and that when others don’t play and interact the same way they do, it’s okay. Instead of seeing it as strange, they can see it as sweet and kind.
I had a friend ask me about resources to use to teach her child about autism because her daughter had been asking questions. I was more then happy to help! Children asking questions so that they can understand the world around them, including other people, is exactly how they will grow and become people who love others well. I was so excited to share with her and I’d love to share some with you as well!
It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr is a great book for young children around the ages of 1-3. It gives great (and some silly) examples of the way people can be different and how having a disability is just one more way that people can be different.
The A in Autism Stands for Awesome by Lindsay James is a wonderful story for older children 4+. It tells the story of a typically developing little girl names Summer who befriends a little boy on the spectrum and how she views him and his autism in a positive way.
These two YouTube videos are great resources:
This video is a great resource for children and adults alike. It explains autism in a way that can help you increase your understand and talk to your child about it.
This is one more video with a bit more detail to help parents explain different symptoms of autism and why not every child with autism is the same.
Megan is a stay at home mom of two au-some kids & the co-director of the Hoboken Special Needs Parents Group. Her daughter Aurora (4) attends the Pre-K ABA program at Wallace Elementary. Her son Clark is 2 and a half and is receiving services through early intervention. Both children are extremely active and always keep Megan on her toes! She and her husband moved to Hoboken 2 years ago and were blown away by the help they received from the Hoboken School District. You can also find Megan in her role as the children’s ministry leader at Hoboken Grace Church.