Joe just turned 9 and is growing up. Those growing pains that all kids get seem even more heartbreaking when it comes from an autistic child.
Joe recently wanted to go to his friend's house down the street to play with some kids. He is in typical class with one of the boys and the other boy is in his 'special' class for reading but doesn't have a "disability".
Joe was very excited about playing there since they invited him over. I rode my bike down there with him. They are very nice kids with nice families.
He played for an hour, two days in a row. After the second night, he was having trouble sleeping. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "Mom, there's something wrong with my brain." HEARTBREAK! I tried hard not to cry. I took a deep breath and asked him what he meant. He said he couldn't think about that but that there was something wrong in there (pointing to his forehead). I asked if his head hurt and he said no. I hugged him and told him that he was ok and put him to bed. I then was the one who couldn't sleep.
The next morning I asked him if anyone told him there was something wrong with his brain and he said "No-I just know there is." Perhaps in playing with his new friends he realized that he is different. Still not sure. Later in the day I used Temple Grandin's approach with him. I talked to him about his brain and told him that he was very smart. His brain may work differently than his friends, but he is very smart and sweet and kind and not 'less' than them. I also told him that I love him just the way he is!
The other recent heartache for me came on his sister's birthday. He watched her leave with her friends for dinner and said, "I hope I have friends someday." I told him he did have friends, of course. It still breaks my heart. I wish I could spare him the hurt this world holds.
Life is hard but still harder for someone with autism, or any other diagnosis that makes them different.