Monday, May 23, 2022

Needing People - More or Less

There are times that I throw up my hands and say that maybe I will just become a hermit living on the beach and eating turkey and cheese sandwiches all day.  While its true that I can be frustrated with humans in general, I do like interacting with people.  Sometimes I need a little time away to re-energize and go back to the race.  I also think an interesting question is...would you rather have 100 friendships, or 10 close friendships?  The older I get, the more I feel that I choose the latter.

My children are currently experiencing very different needs as it pertains to peers.  Neither is right or wrong, but both show how different siblings, and people in general can be.

Tyler had a housemate for a few years that was a pretty good fit.  "K" was higher functioning, and understood how to avoid Tyler's triggers.  After "K" moved away, Tyler got another roommate, but that had opposite results.  Tyler became moody, defensive, and just generally unhappy.  Obviously this was no fault of the new person, it was just not a good fit, compounded by a run of incompetent oversight.  Once that arrangement was disbanded, we requested that Tyler be permitted to remain living in the residence alone, with only his staff there.  It was a blessing that this was granted, and now Tyler is the sole resident.  The changes in him have been staggering.  He is so much brighter, happier, and energized.  He interacts with everyone at church and looks forward to his Sunday milkshake afterward.  He is stronger and more verbal than we have seen in a long time.  In his case he needed less distraction from other people and more time to be a solo pilot through his journey.  As long as he has his support group and family to remind him how much he is loved and cared for, he is happy.

Sam, on the other hand, has experienced more need for interaction and support.  We are excited to end this coming week by allowing her to spend a day with her beloved pen pal from Charlotte.  It will be their annual get together at the beach.  For 6 years now, our once little girls have met at the beach and enjoyed a wonderful friendship.  

For those of you not familiar with the story, Sam was at the beach with us when she spotted a little girl playing nearby.  The other girl "S" was staying at the same building we were, so the girls made plans to see one another at the pool and the beach.  S's family and ours played along and cleared time every day for the girls to use the pool and beach together.  Sam would wake up in the morning and watch the beach from our room to see the second S hit the beach.  Once she saw S was on the beach Sam had no rest until she was able to run down.  S is very mature and patient which is especially good paired with Sam's rather bold and impatient personality.  Once the week was over, we exchanged numbers and encouraged the girls to stay in touch.  I make sure to see when the Charlotte clan will be at the beach so we can meet up for at least a day.  Its a friendship that may just stand the test of time and distance, but we shall see.  

It seems funny to me that for one of my children I am advocating for them to be alone, while doing the opposite for the other.  Its an example how the typical world and the autism world can be so many miles apart.  Its also yet another lesson in how the goal is to have happy children, and not "normal" children.

Be well and God bless.    Tom

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