Monday, February 24, 2014


Spring brings playing on the playground and blooming friendships. A common hope for all parents that our children will  have friendships in early childhood that will continue a lifetime.

Play something that occurs so freely while a friendship should happen so naturally. The first time kids meet on the playground they refer to the kids that they just ran and chased as their friends. Some kids initiate play by asking others, " Do you want to play?" Some kids play by just being in the same environment and doing activities in the same sandbox while others watch while others play. What textbook call parallel play,  moms and  a nannies call time to spill the juicy gossip or even try to one up the other of who's toddler is accomplishing what they think is one step closer to getting into the IVY League school. On the playground we talk about years of hopes for our kids.

The play that was stared on the playground, grows to play dates at friends houses, birthday parities,sleepovers, years later eating together in the cafeteria,  then shopping, and talking on the phone. Some kids one of the most difficult things is to socialize and have friends. Not because who they are but something they live with .. they live with autism with LOVE ..

Autism is a diagnosis that impaired social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication along with restricted or repetitive or stereotyped behavior. All these impairments  you would think would impede play on the playground and make it difficult to form friendships regardless how act of play comes so freely.  With all these obstacles ..  How can two children effected with autism play and become friends ? 

The same came be said of how two kids one with autism and one without can become friends. Children find a common bond now this may not come so easily. It sometimes  happens because the other child sees them as a girl or boy nothing less nothing more.  See with autism as we know most individuals don't carry any physical or facial characteristics to indicate what they are with. What they do show on the playground are behaviors.  Here is a day on the playground:

When my daughter was on the playground a girl one day  asked my daughter, "Do you want to play?". My daughter was in a  tunnel laughing and not looking at girl but happy as can be playing in her own world of happiness. As I sat while watching I thought, "Look at that little girl". "Go play". "Come on you can do it".  The other little girl waits for a second and my daughter just looks the other way and laughs.  The little girl looks puzzled and a little hurt.  She decides to wander off and play with others.  My heart was  broken at that moment because finally my little girl had someone in her space but just couldn't express herself. I thought if only the little girl had put her hand out to my daughter to initiate her intent this would have gone different.  My daughter was happy why couldn't I get over her not playing with this little girl. Then remembering that true friendship can not be pushed and will come with love and understanding.  A girl one day would come along and take my daughter's hand to play and if not I would have to PLAY and take my daughter's hand until that day. .. 

As weeks passed my daughter began asking me to get up and play.  She would point to me and say, "AH".  I would then say tell me to, "Come"(and motion my hand to come). She would then try her hardest to imitate my motion.  The communicate was clear she wanted me to chase her.  I did that day and she laughed and I laughed.  My daughter was playing.  She was interacting and initiating play. I also looked way cooler and felt a bond between my daughter that was special.  I now left the mom sandbox to give my daughter the play she deserved and the chase by her dearest friend. . PLAY.

When making the decision to place my daughter into a therapeutic day school this year my biggest fear was she would not have friends . Would my daughter be able to make a friend and have the opportunity to have social experiences in a  "the most restrictive environment?"  

 The answer to my question would be "YES" to having a friend" because friendship is effortless  when there is understanding regardless of what you are with . It happened like this so freely and without effort in the first few months of her attending her therapeutic school:

My daughter's first friend was a young boy with autism. A boy at that... Boyfriend is what popped into my head. Ironically, it was spoken about in an IEP meeting and the relationship for them started by eating together.  My daughter has skipped from forming her first friendship and relationship on a playground to already making a friends and eating lunch in the school's cafeteria.  My daughter has skipped years of the friendship timeline not too bad for a condition that is considered developmental delayed.   My daughter by eight even with autism with love friendship bloomed.  In my head it was emotions running with excitement to crying to laughing with happiness. Otherwise known as happiness to some and anxiety to other parents. They weren't really boy friend and girlfriend but for two kids .  I was running with it and it was autism with LOVE.

Friendship and relationship come naturally, pure, and full of love. She would now have someone to play on the playground with and better yet eat lunch which was her next favorite time besides, "PLAY".  She would have that friend for her lifetime. If she ever loss that friend the hope would be for her to decide to run freely and find the friend with PLAY ..  over and over again regardless of what with.

The playground the special place where kids can run and swing freely with autism and with LOVE