image from Webweavers Free Clip Art
We had an early birthday celebration for Gus yesterday; nothing big, just my friend (who I also refer to interchangeably as my cousin) and her two younger sons. Her middle son is the same age as Gus and they both, ironically, are on the autism spectrum. We often try to get them together, but they usually sort of orbit each other, absorbed in their own private little galaxies.
A couple of weeks ago they were hanging out together and the youngest son's party. We were optimistic that if we provided a steady stream of video games, they'd actually play together. What fun! MM and the youngest son camped out with all the Pokemon toys and the Legos and played nicely all afternoon. Gus and A. did in fact play together as well! Win!
A is a little better at a game Gus just started playing, so at first he played alone and Gus cheered him on, excited to see how to beat the level. They stopped that game for a while and then we had cupcakes - organic apple cinnamon with homemade caramel frosting. (The frosting didn't work out so well this time, but it tasted like sugar so it got eaten - nice how that works out. Maybe next time, I'll just skip the work and go with straight sugar.)
After cupcakes, DH set them up to play a cooperative Mario game. We were a little concerned about fighting since they both tend to be very self-directed and think they're in charge (except when MM steps in - then everyone knows she's in charge). When we heard shrieks, all the adults jumped up to see what was going on. No conflict - just really involved in the game. After a while, they were both jumping up and down, laughing and having a grand time. These guys have known each other their whole lives, but after 8 years, they are finally becoming something like friends. How awesome is that?
Next weekend, we're hoping for part 2 of the birthday celebration with a couple of boys from Gus's class. I haven't heard from the parents, so I don't know if they are actually coming. I hope they do. If not, I'm not sure who will be more disappointed: Gus or me. As much as he seems to avoid interacting with other kids, it's becoming apparent that he wants to. So we've got to get him as many opportunities to do that as possible.
Thankfully, soccer is also starting next weekend, so he'll get to socialize a little then, too.
Do you seek out ways for your autistic child to socialize? What's worked for you?