There is a very happy little boy in my house. All his birthday dreams came true. Excitement, however, can go either way – happy or meltdown in lightning speed from sensory overload. There was an over-the-top feel to the day. The buildup had been huge. But in the end, there were minimal tears and only for the fact that everyone was on the way out. There were 11 people in our house other than those of us who live here, (including his big brother Josh- for whom a post is in the works).
One of my son’s two friends made it. The other did not. The one who came is 7, very polite, mostly quiet, and on the spectrum. The two boys have known each other for a year. Although my son cannot express himself very well, he mentions his friend, “E” often.
The boys met through their social skills class. They are an interesting dynamic. My son is far behind “E” in social skills, in speech, in restraint and responding to others. Little “E” has bright blue eyes and is as sweet as he can be. I’m quite sure my son is impressed and likes “E” because of the way he talks about “E” and wants to spend more time with him.
“Wanna work for ‘E”” is his new mantra. In ABA therapy, my son will perform certain tasks that are taught through ABA with a reward system. He has been able to “work for” his reinforcement and often picks up one of his own toys and asks to “work for it.” He works to have short play breaks with Jessica, Billy (our law clerk who is gone taking the bar exam right now) and for me. Now, he wants to “work” to spend time with “E”.
“E” is high functioning and gifted with his math skills. He’s not perfect but he is a great role model and actually, quite an inspiration to me for my son. Still, the boys both have their socialization issues.
Today was a bit comical in the attempts that E’s mommy and I made to prompt the two boys into conversation. When one would listen to his parent, and say something to the other, the other was engrossed in something else, or looking a different direction. There was not one sentence, followed by a response from the other boy without several prompts. While this was a bit frustrating, it was comforting to me to know that the other mom in the room “got” it and I didn’t have to feel stressed or uncomfortable as we facilitated the conversation between our boys.
At one point, the two boys were outside bouncing in a bouncy house. E’s daddy was outside watching them and E’s mommy and I were talking inside. Then, we see E’s daddy walk inside. We waited probably a couple minutes and decided to check on the boys who’d now been outside for a couple minutes in a bouncy house unsupervised. Guess what? They were fine, happy and looking quite “normal”. As my son has had no play dates up to this point, this was kind of a nice thing to see.
At another point, “E” asked to play our Wii and started on Mario Brothers. My son first tried to grab the controller out of “E”’s hands. Luckily, I was just outside the room when it happened and redirected him to do something else. I then, walked away, leaving the three of them alone.
When I returned, my son had decided to play Pac-Man on a small TV. “E” was busy getting rid of bad guys in Mario Brothers and “E”’s 3 year old brother was happily playing a Thomas the Train app on my cell phone. Just another instance of good playing together in which I can take no credit. I was so happy (and relieved) to see it all worked itself out.
For the remainder of the time, the boys played well, in the vicinity of each other. There was not much talk at all but they were comfortable that way. There were even a couple of un-prompted hugs between the boys. The reality is they were prompted to talk to each other and misunderstood the directions to be hugging with which they complied and it was adorable!
There is a lot of hope for me in looking to “E”. He is only a couple years older, much more verbal, bright, responsive and polite. He has communication that is far more advanced than that of my son. “E”’s mommy has told me that it took a long way and lots of work for “E” to make it to where he is today and that there is hope for my little Tootles as well.
I see his sentences expanding and being relevant to what is happening around him. I see him learning new concepts and using them in his everyday conversations as well. With each candle we blow out as the years mount, I hope we can have the kind of interaction I had with “E” today.