What She Needs

aspergers.jpgProblems with social skills: Children with Asperger’s syndrome generally have difficulty interacting with others and often are awkward in social situations. They generally do not make friends easily. They have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation. (source)

Sometimes, it is painful for Amber and I to watch Kaitlyn in social situations, especially those where she knows absolutely nobody.  Kaitlyn does her best to try to blend in and be a part of what is going on, but she generally stays on the fringe of the crowd, and usually ends up doing her own thing.

Kaitlyn also has trouble making friends.  It is not that she does not try, it is just that she gives what might be considered a “token” effort and goes about her business.  Maybe that is because she has a lot of trouble staying in the flow of a conversation with someone; she likes to circle back to whatever her interest is at the time, and is mostly unconcerned with what the other person happens to be talking about.  Even for us, having a conversation with her about almost anything is an adventure in persistence and patience.

Despite all of what she lacks socially, she has been extremely fortunate to have made some of the friends that she has, and the ties that she has to them are strong.  Amber and I knew from the outset that because of Kaitlyn’s social skills, or lack thereof, she would benefit from having a friend who is more of a “social butterfly,” and who also has that sense of compassion and patience that is needed to understand her.  She found that friend in kindergarten, and although they are in different classes this year, we can tell that they are only becoming better friends.  For Amber and I, that is a huge relief.

Yesterday was the end of spring break (officially, it was a teacher planning day), and like a lot of parents, we were in a bind.  We hoped to avoid paying a camp $50-$75 for one day, so Amber took the day off to spend with Kaitlyn.  Even better, we were able to set up a fun day for Kaitlyn and her good friend Lindsay to hang out at the house.  They had quite the day.

Kaitlyn and her friend Lindsay (left) made marshmallow smoothies yesterday.

Kaitlyn and her friend Lindsay (left) made marshmallow smoothies yesterday.

Amber gave me the rundown of the day yesterday, and it is a wonder that she was not curled up in a ball on the couch.  At various times during the day, Kaitlyn’s room, our living room, and our family room would have been considered disaster areas (seriously, FEMA would have been providing us funding for cleanup).  I’m sure the smoothie adventure created a little bit of a mess, but Amber did a good job in cleaning it up because the floor was not sticky at all when I got home.  There was a lunch trip to Chick-fil-A, with dessert at Nuberri (6 weekdays off of school, 6 visits to Nuberri for Kaitlyn.  I am surprised they don’t know her by name and greet her like she is Norm on Cheers.)  The girls played outside a lot, too, which explains why Kaitlyn was extra tired in the evening. Lindsay is very much the social butterfly, but she has been exactly what Kaitlyn has needed.  They spend as much time together after school as they can, and we like to try to get them together away from school, too.  They are on the same T-ball team that starts practice tomorrow as well.  Amber and I could not be happier that Kaitlyn has a friend like Lindsay.  She is helping Kaitlyn with some of her social awkwardness, and has helped Kaitlyn open up some. 

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