Did you know that according to the dictionary, socialize means:
- To place under government or group ownership or control.
- To make fit for companionship with others, make sociable.
- To convert or adapt to the needs of society.
I bet that you were thinking of social as children playing
in the playground or as children playing with their friends.
Pre-teen children are still learning social norms and any quirks are considered cute. Neurotypical children at this age are more receptive to playing with the autistic child. The main focus at this age is really turn taking and respecting boundaries.
The teenage years are very tough for the neurotypical kids as they are searching for their own identities and adjust their behavior to conform with their group of peers. The “nerds” stick together and the jocks stick together. At this age the autistic child is the “weirdo” that no one really wants to include in their group. Everyone is so self conscious that they are scared of losing their place in the social order. The autistic child will have a very tough time fitting in.
When Ethan was young, he was never interested in playing with kids other than his brothers. He was more comfortable playing with adults or being on his own. As a teenager, given a choice, he still prefers to be on his own. We have made a decision that it is his happiness that counts and if he wants to be social we are more than happy to teach him how. However, the choice is his. The structure of the autistic brain is different and so their needs are different. We do not believe that we ever be able to change the structure of his brain and that is OK.
Now the scenarios I am writing about are generalizations and some kids will have a different experience.
Just make sure the waters are not shark infested before sending your child in.
By Dalia Shkedy – Ethan’s Mom