Friday, August 09, 2013

Aspergers and Happiness

I had a great breakfast today with two friends who live on my street.

One friend has a son, five years older than mine, who is on the spectrum.  The other friend has a son in my son's grade in high school, and although he is not diagnosed, he has many, if not all, of the same issues that my son has.

We were talking about our sons' lack of need for friends.  Here it is, summer time, and we watch our other children socializing and doing stuff and out of the house all of the time.  Then we look at our sons who are at home, wondering why they don't feel the need to get out and be with people.  We wonder why they are fine with staying at home, and all the socialization they need is a good game on Xbox.

Thing is, THEY ARE HAPPY.  We may not be -- we may be concerned that they don't leave the house, that they aren't going out to eat or hang out with friends.  This bothers us, as their parents.  We just can't relate to it.  But if we are concerned with our sons, it has more to do with OUR needs and less to do with our son's needs.

I guess I would love to see my son run off to college in a year, into a sea of guys and girls just like him. I would LOVE that.  I would love to see him comfortable, and with people who like to do the same things that he likes to do.  I would LOVE to see him interacting and feeling part of a group.

My son, though?  What does he want?  He's actually pretty happy with the way things are.  He's always happy.  He's always content.  I guess he just doesn't need that much.  Sure, he would like to have people to interact with -- but it's not a NEED like it is with other people not on the spectrum.

Once, we sent my son to a church camp for four days, held at a local college.  He was going to room with people he didn't know, and he was going be doing all sorts of stuff that he had never done before (dances, classes that he chose to attend, etc.).  I was nervous, but I wanted him to try this experience so that he could see what college was like.  He texted me that first night, telling me about all the shenanigans that he and his fellow campers were getting up to.  He never did go to a dance, but he had a great time playing board games with a bunch of kids.  He was walking to and from classes when it was raining, with an umbrella, and had girls walk with him to stay dry.  After a few days, he texted me "So this is what you've been telling me is so great about college!!!!"   Yeah, that was a great day FOR ME.

He hasn't socialized very much since then.  That was a year ago.  But that doesn't mean he isn't capable of having this same experience again.  It will just be on his time, on his schedule.  It won't be my kind of social experience, but it will work for HIM.

I finally realized, this year, that it isn't about my kind of social life -- because that's probably not ever going to work for my son.  He can't take the noise, he doesn't understand the conversational mores, and he doesn't have the burning need to BE WITH PEOPLE.  But if he can go to college and find some like-minded people to goof off with for a few years, well, I'll be a happy mother.

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