Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting Gotten

This weekend, if you don't follow my Facebook page religiously, Maya had a sleepover in the form of her two cousins P and J.

For all Maya's social struggles, everything has always gone great with P and J.  They just swing with Maya and she just swings with them.   I hate using this quote, because of it's association with the movie Forrest Gump, but they are like Peas and Carrots together.  But it's really true.  It's been that way since they were toddlers and years later, it is still like that.  They are not exactly the same but they are sweet, bright and go together fantastically.

I've always been very grateful for Maya's relationship with P and J.  For Maya, a kid with social challenges, a kid who doesn't always attract other kids, it's great that she has a few people where it just works, where she doesn't have to struggle, where they get her no matter what.

I often see my role as the parent of an autistic child as a little bit like a fighter pilot.  We spend our lives navigating the world for our children.  Everything must be thought through and planned, you must look down miles in advance to make sure that there are no obstacles, triggers or other things which might cause problems for your child.  Everything takes enormous effort.  The daily routines, getting dressed, undressed, baths, brushing teeth, hair, getting to school on time, homework.  To say nothing of family get togethers, vacations, even friggin birthday parties.  I find myself walking a delicate tightrope trying to anticipate absolutely everything so I can prepare Maya as much as possible so as not to trigger her anxiety or insecurities.

It is great and really comforting as a mom to see that my daughter has something in her life which is effortless.  Which is how it is with P and J.

Don't get me wrong, I do think on the whole Maya is a likable kid and she has come a long way socially and generally she is liked by other kids but she has trouble relating to them and they to her.  She frustrates and confuses them, even though they like her.

But other kids don't seem to get Maya in quite the same way as P and J do.

P and J are not autistic, they are your run of the mill boys, both with very different personalities.  P, the older of the two is half a year younger than Maya.  He's a lovely boy, mature for his age, smart, polite.  Actually he is the kind of kid who often prefers hanging with the adults more than the kids.  He is curious and he enjoys telling you about all the things he knows and understands.  He likes to help in the kitchen and he likes to clean up.  And it is so cute to talk to him because in many ways the things he says are a miniature version of his parents.  J is 6 and is more rambunctious.  He and Maya can get into good trouble together and they sometimes bop heads literally and figuratively because of it, because neither one yet can be the "bigger person" and give in but he is your typical boy in every way, rough-and-tumble to the core.  He and Maya can spend hours chasing each other and laughing their heads off all day.

It's funny, as P gets older I can see that Maya relates a little more to J than to P.  She is closer in development to J now as P is just light years ahead of her.  I had worried what would happen to their relationship as P matured, as I can see sometimes that typical kids get tired of her.  I had worried that Maya would lose her bond to P and J as time went on as in a year or so J will probably also be far ahead of Maya.  Even though P is beyond her, I can see on his face that he really enjoys being around her.  He sees that she doesn't understand as much as he does, but he never gets frustrated with her, he is patient and finds a way to make it work.  He takes her completely in stride, he gives in when it is hard for her to give in and when it is hard for him he removes himself and just lets her be.

I also don't know what the future holds for Maya with P and J as time moves on.  If the gaps get wider, which seems inevitable I can imagine at some point there may be less and less common ground for them to connect on.   Maybe at some point they will move on from her and they won't get her or want to be around her.

But like with everything else about autism and motherhood, I try not to look too far into the future.  I am just very grateful that right now she does has friends who get her and who love being around her.

None of us knows what will be for our kids in the future.  It's about appreciating the now.

And right now I am just so happy and grateful that Maya has both of those boys in her life.

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