Monday, September 10, 2012

My son only wants to play with you...

Interactions with other children have been strained as of late. I honestly don't know what to think, because Steven does just fine at school, and he did fine in daycare. He is the only autistic kid that went to his daycare, yet his class is nothing but kids on the spectrum. My little boy is not a bully (except to his parents), he isn't territorial or mean. He just wants to play.

But Steven is in his second situation where he is dealing with neurotypical kids his age who freak out when he comes near them. Steven is the master of the bear hug. He likes to tackle. But even if he doesn't, it seems like these kids just want to break down and cry and run from him.

Don't do that to my child.

I fully understand that some kids are just used to being at home and around relatives. My son was the same way. And he hated daycare at first. I hated going back to work, but it needed to be done. Still, Steven has developed into a very kind and social child in spite of his difficulties. I feel like some kids don't even give him a chance. That breaks my heart, and makes me fear for when he's mainstreamed. I'd love to play it safe and keep him in special ed classes, but what will that do for his development? I can't ask that he stay there just so he won't be bullied. Especially when I see him growing and learning every day. Steven has autism, he's not a vegetable.

Still, it's hard to have that discussion with other parents. One parent just made a bunch of excuses and cited "shared play space" as the reason why her sons could practically run over mine with their bikes. The other, I don't think that her English is advanced enough to understand it yet. I sometimes feel like some of the parents I come across are just telling their kids to brace themselves and deal with my son until he goes away.

And all he wants to do is be your friend.

I have been rejected all my life. I'm used to it now. That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, but I don't fight the inevitable now. The path to accepting the fact that I'm different is quite muddy with tears, not to mention stony with the rocks thrown by people who seem to hate anything different from what they are.

I don't want my son to know that pain. And while I cannot protect him from every hurt in life, I can grieve with him when they come, and hopefully shield him sometimes.

I just wish there were more people out there who were actively making their kids aware that there are scores of folks out there who aren't like them...and that this is not a threat. All my son wants is to love and be loved, and thank goodness he many. But I don't want him to be bullied like I was growing up, I don't want him to hate himself like I did, for just being different. I want him to keep preening in the mirror like he does now. I want him to grow up to be whatever it is that he's meant to be, and not be stifled by the judgment of the world. I hope that I can have some influence in that area.

But for today, Steven just wants to be happy. He just wants to love and be loved. He just wants to play. So you can't understand much of what he says. If you asked me what that was, I'd tell you it was apraxia. And I'd tell you what that meant. Yes, he likes to play with toys in different ways, but he also likes cars, trucks and planes like any little boy. He has the same sharing issues as other kids his age. In some cases a little less, if the kids next door are any indication. So he flaps his arms and gives bear hugs. You mean to tell me you've never made a nervous gesture or given someone you love a bear hug?

It is a blessing that children several years older than Steven (for now) seem to understand that he's different and wish to interact with him. The joy on his face when they play with him is truly divine. I just want to protect my child, and right now I don't know how. I don't want that day to come when he realizes that he's truly being rejected by someone who should know better. 25 years later I still remember when "that day" came for me.

I just want to protect my child. My son only wants to play with you.

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