A Mind of My Own
Posted by Gail | Filed under Autism
Chapter Ten: Social Interactions (Part 3)
Malcolm at 16:
Malcolm and Logan remain friends, spending weekends together and laughing and gabbing together. However Logan left school in mid-way through Grade 10 for health reasons and Malcolm had to forge some new relationships.
Over time he’s become much more conscious of the social aspects of life. Where before he showed no interest in what he wore other than always choosing familiar clothes, now he takes an interest in going shopping and he chooses what to wear for himself. When he shunned solid coloured shots in favour of plaids I wondered why the big interest in plaids. The next time I was at school I noticed that 9 out of 10 boys were wearing plaid shorts. It seems Malcolm was now paying attention to things I was totally missing.
He insists on wearing his hair a certain way (even though I like it better another way), and he is conscious of what is and isn’t “cool.” He looks and acts like lots of other 16 year olds and I’ve given him whatever I think he needs to help him fit in. When he asked for an iphone, I had a debate with myself. This was an expensive “toy.” He’d always had a cell phone (for my convenience) and texted. But this was a step up. What to do, what to do?
He asked for the phone in the summer. I told him he’d have to wait until Christmas and I’d give him the phone for a Christmas/Birthday present. He twitched a bit but then he waited.
Facebook and texting are a boon to Malcolm, which is one reason I gave him the iphone. Both these media give him time to think about what he wants to say, and reduce his stress because they eliminate the barrage of stimuli associated with face-to-face interactions. His Facebook page says he has 260 friends, 238 of whom I know nothing. But if he’s interacting with even 1/10th of those kids, I’m in heaven.
From time to time I hear him talking about his friends but I never see him interacting with them. Even though I offer to have them over, he chooses to keep them at school.
Sometimes I worry that Malcolm doesn’t have the social life Alex did. Then I give my head a shake. Malcolm is a completely different child. He loves his alone time. He is happy and a joy to be around. He has a much lower need for interaction than some other kids.
Sometimes you just have to let go and allow your children to be who they are.