“Who Makes A Better Friend Than Another With Autism!” by Lynn Hudoba – Guest Post for Friendships: Struggles, Humor, Triumphs and Angels Series

by Lynn Hudoba

One of the hallmarks of autism is a deficit in social skills. Children with autism have difficulty making conversation, understanding social cues, and establishing friendships with their peers. They tend to prefer the company of adults rather than children their own age, perhaps because adult’s behavior is more predictable than a child’s, and adults are more likely to be understanding and accommodating of their disability.

As Jill noted in her post, parents of autistic children can sometimes push their children into social situations or into working on these skills in therapy settings. Sometimes, as in the case of Jill’s son, we are able to get to a place of acceptance where we just don’t want to push the square peg in the round hole anymore. But my daughter seems to love being around other children. She just lacks the tools to communicate age-appropriately, and has difficulty following the play schemes of typical children. So we continue to work on it. I’ve enlisted the help of some typical peers, or “rent-a-friends” as I call them, to have play dates that are supervised by a therapist. Audrey loves it and it has helped her immeasurably, both by having a therapist present to prompt her through appropriate interaction and by having a typical child’s play skills to model.

Outside of these somewhat pre-fab social situations, Audrey has shown some improvement in her social interaction. But if we are in a situation where there are both typical and special needs kids, she seems to gravitate to her own tribe. Which is sort of surprising. If predictability and a small sensory footprint is the goal, then her fellow autism peeps would seem to be a bad choice. But she must recognize something of herself that attracts her to them. We parents like to talk about our own version of gay-dar, ASDar, in recognizing our fellow spectrum moms and kiddos when we are out in the community, and Audrey seems to share that ability.

In the future, Audrey can make her own way and decide for herself who to forge friendships with. Or not. In some ways I think who better to have as friends than others with autism? They certainly should be forgiving of each other’s idiosyncrasies. I’ve proposed establishing a group home for our kids and have several takers already: the Alpha Sigma Delta fraternity/sorority house. Who’s in?

Lynn Hudoba is the mother of a beautiful and amazing 6 year old girl who happens to have autism. She loves to write letters, emails, texts, tweets, memoirs, and blog posts at My Life As An Ungraceful, Unhinged, and Unwilling Draftee Into the Autism Army.

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What does your child do? Gravitate towards adults? Gravitate towards their own tribe or something else?/em>
Gina @ Special Happens

18 Responses to “Who Makes A Better Friend Than Another With Autism!” by Lynn Hudoba – Guest Post for Friendships: Struggles, Humor, Triumphs and Angels Series

  1. Since I only see my niece and cousins w/ ‘typical’ kids, and saw my students with other students, I never thought of this before. I’m guessing you’re right (in my supreme intellignece)that Audrey must sense a likeness with other children ‘of her own tribe.’ Don’t we all do that? So really, what she’s doing is completely socially, deveolopmentally and age appropriate.

  2. We stopped trying to ram that square peg through round hole long ago. Funny, Griffin doesn’t gravitate to the other ASD kids. He much prefers the NTs. Usually the trouble makers.

  3. My son has friends who are ASD and others who are NT. I have had to be creative about explaining other ASD kids’ behaviors when he gets upset by them, however, without disclosing their diagnosis to my son. It would be simpler to just say they are on the spectrum, because he would understand what that means, but I don’t want to give him that amount of info on a kid who may not know about his dx or whose parents may not want it spread about.

    I see a lot of information about there about explaining kids with disabilities to typical kids, but there is another layer, in my opinion, when trying to explain kids with disabilities to kids with disabilities. Or maybe I’m just overthinking things, as usual!

  4. I guess it’s kind of a nice problem to have…that he’s noticing and questioning other children’s behaviors. We are definitely not there yet, but that’s an interesting point. Maybe at some point the whole army of them will devise a secret handshake or something, sparing us the bother!

  5. Ultimately Big T gravitates towards adults. After all, the village of therapists, para pros, medical docs and others who help us raise him are all adults. I think he really sees any adult in his vicinity as being there for the express purpose of paying attention to him. His favorite “play” is when he cons some uninitiated yahoo into playing with his toys FOR him. He likes nothing better than to hand an adult a toy and instruct them on how to play with it. Other kids aren’t really into that kind of “play”, oddly enough!

    • Yeah, I suppose the affinity for adults could have something to do with the fact that they are around them so much. Until typical kids are allowed to get board certified in some kind of therapy, I suppose that will be the case.

  6. I was just thinking I needed a term for autism gay-dar. Autie-dar just wasn’t cutting it. Asdar is perfect!

    Moe doesn’t interact with peers much yet, but he loves his teachers at school and other adults he knows well.

  7. My son knows NT and ASD kids. He will mimic the ASD kids more than the NT kids which is a concern but yet the NT don’t truly accept him. at this point he accepts all children. if one of the ASD kids started flipping out he would think nothing of it and just accept it. He accepts all behaviors as normal and doesn’t differentiate. I am sure he would be more accepted by ASD kids as he is a bit “weird”.

  8. I need something like that. My Aspie responds negatively to redirection. He takes it like criticism rather than help so he feels like he’s not good enough the way he is. Then he bolts angrily and hides. I have some parent acquaintances that have kids on the spectrum but the drive to see them adds to my weekly commute so fuel costs can get pretty steep. I need to find a midpoint location where we can all gather. Great post.

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  10. Nothing made me happier in recent memory than getting a note sent home to me by Billy’s teacher that another kid at school said, “Billy is my best friend.”

    We have “group therapy” which is basically a structured, organized playmate with a therapist assigned to each child. His best pal is also autistic and they are so cute saying hello to each other now, rarely meeting one another’s eyes. But they don’t care. Billy’s still at the age where the neurotypical kids in his class are sweet and protective of him.

    I feel very blessed to say that Billy has a lot of friends now…whether he always realizes it or not.

  11. My son used to gravitate towards adults only. He’s expanded to peers, but if there’s a younger child around, that’s who he’ll go towards. Maybe because they’re not ‘judging’ yet? Or possibly, that’s just about his level. If no one is younger, and there’s a group of adults around, that’s where you’ll find him.

  12. My Asdar is in fine working order. My son is too young yet at only 3 to gravitate towards anyone, he much prefers his own company for now. Me? I find it easier to be with adults who ‘get it’ which is other parents with SN children. Great post Lynn. Jen

  13. My son has exactly two friends–one with ADHD and one with an ASD. Teachers have reported that he seems to have a calming influence on the ADHD kid, and I LOVE watching him play with his pal on the spectrum. If you want to see total acceptance then look no further. They pay no mind to each other’s quirks. If his friend, who is obsessed with foreign languages, wants to listen to Chinese, then my guy is fine with it, as long as he can pretend that it’s secret Autobot code. They can have two different conversations simultaneously, and neither of them minds that the other isn’t really responding appropriately. They also connect with a few common interests, such as a band and a tv show they both like. What’s even better is that his mom and I get along great!

  14. Oh Racer is the same way. In his NT kinder class there another special needs boy and they seek each other out. They walk to the line together and stay there. I believe he’s NT but he’s disabled. But Racer adores him

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