Have you ever read blog posts, or heard stories, about cute little autistic children who are beloved by their classmates? Who are fully integrated, and have no problems at all because other children just flock to them? How they are teaching the world about diversity, and how every person who meets them just oozes love, respect, and acceptance?
Have you ever unfollowed a Facebook page, or Twitter account, because you couldn't take one.more.second of this shiny happy world you know nothing about?
Yeah, me too.
This week K started in a new social group. Now, I don't love social groups. I think autistic children are who they are, and trying to teach them to be different can be very detrimental. But, this group is all girls, and run by the K's counselor whom I do love.
And did I mention it's all girls?
K has been struggling lately with wanting friends, but unfortunately she's not one of the lucky few who acts as the Pied Piper of typical children. For the most part, other kids think she's weird, or excessively naughty, and just someone they don't want to be around.
So, when a spot opened up in "girl group", we decided to give it a chance. Especially because one of the girls is really into My Little Pony, and K has recently gotten into My Little Pony (some say obsession, I say she just likes ponies.) They even watch My Little Pony videos on YouTube, because I guess there are one or two ponies with disabilities (the girls can relate to the ponies, and hopefully it builds their own self-worth.)
At the end of group, K walked out and handed me a sheet of paper. It was a birthday invitation. My first thought was that we obviously couldn't attend. This was K's first day in the group, and getting an invitation was just a formality. It would be weird if we went, not knowing the girl, or the parents.
Of course, K was excited about the invitation. It's not like she gets them often. Not from people outside our circle of "family friends". And she didn't get at all why I thought we shouldn't go. At all. To her, this girl was a "friend", now. Clearly she should be at her birthday party.
So this morning I stepped out of my comfort zone, and emailed the dad. I told him K would love to come, but since the girls just met I wanted to make sure it was really OK. I'm guessing (hoping) these parents understand how getting a birthday invitation is akin to winning the lottery.
So here I sit, waiting on an email back. Feeling guilty that I even asked if it was OK for K to come, but also desperately wanting her to feel included. K will never be the cute autistic kid everyone flocks to, but maybe she will be someone a few other kids want at their birthday party, and that really is enough.