I'm sharing this Facebook post today because it needs to be shared, as many times as we can share it.
The post, written by a man named Bob Cornelius, begins:
"For those of you who don't know, my youngest son, Christopher, is on the autistic spectrum. I went to his back to school night on Thursday and took a picture of one of his projects displayed on the wall, one of many cute little cards that all the kids in his class had filled out. It asked him to list his favorite foods, sport, TV shows etc.
I took the picture hurriedly, and didn't notice all the answers he had filled out at that time. It was only after I got home that something stood out upon closer review."
"Until Thursday, I didn't know how aware he was of this divide, as he does not often talk about his peers. I should not have been surprised as he makes his wants (but not his emotional needs) very clear....but I was. Mostly, I suppose, because I had never seen him put it down on paper. But for the first time, it was staring at me in the face.
I guess I'm sharing this because when asked to list his friends he wrote "no one". Never have five letters cut so deep, and they weren't even directed at me....it was just an overly simplistic statement that spoke volumes.
And because I know him so well, and because I have pretty good handle on him, after raising him for eleven years, I know this disconnect makes him feel lonely, and it makes him feel sad."
Bob, I want you to know it makes me feel sad, too. My son David stopped having birthday parties in the fourth grade. I'd invite the whole class and I'd make sure it was somewhere really fun like Chuck E. Cheese or an indoor pool with pizza provided, but by the age of ten, only two or three of his classmates showed up. When he went to middle school, I couldn't bear the thought of him throwing a party that no one would go to, so the parties stopped.
His sister has sleepovers. He doesn't.
His sister hangs out with friends after school. He doesn't.
His sister gets invited places. He doesn't.
And he knows it. He feels it. And I feel it for him.
The solution is simple: kindness. It's just not so simple to put into practice with pre-teen and teenage kids, unfortunately. Sadly, it's not so simple with adults sometimes, either. But I'll keep looking for it, and so will David. I'll keep rewarding kindness and preaching kindness and living kindness. David does that already - he can't help it. He's incapable of holding a grudge or accepting anyone for anything less than they tell him they are. He's unfailingly honest and accepting. I'm sure your Christopher is, as well.
Keep fighting the good fight. And hug your son for me. He's got a friend on this blog, always.