- Gender and Relationships
Making a friend
We are all created in God's image and are equal in his eyes. We all come into the world with a support system that hopefully includes a mother and a father who will love and nurture us and teach us what we need to know as we explore our lives and navigate the world around us. We have no control as to who our parents will be or the type of childhood we will have. Some are born into wealth and some are born into poverty. We all are living our lives and are thrust into a world we are not familiar with. When we are born I believe we are resistant and fight it because we are perfectly comfortable where we are in our mother's womb where it is warm and we are protected. Why would we ever want to leave that safe place? The reality though is that we will have to separate from our mother and that safe place we have grown to know when we are born and we are on our way to becoming our own individual. It will obviously take many years and we will be nurtured and loved by our parents or caregivers over the years who will watch over us when we are really young and make us feel safe like we did in the womb. Life for our parents is very stressful during our baby years and we cry often and very loudly. It is our only real way to let our parents know we need them.
Our mothers tend to us all hours of the day and see that we are comfortable, well fed and always changed. We are totally dependent on our parents and are very helpless without them. Our lives revolve around our parents and our parents lives revolve around us. We are the center of their universe and they will go to the ends of the earth for us. They will be the major influence in our life and will be our teacher throughout the years even as we start our formal schooling. It is school that will help shape us as individuals and allow us certain freedoms and the opportunity to establish friendships and learn our ABC's and other important lessons.
Our parents will encourage us to open up and develop interests and establish friendships in our youth and they will try their best to expand our experiences outside of the home. We also have to communicate with them what we would like to do. Many kids participate in youth soccer, little league baseball, junior bowling leagues, ballet, gymnastics, boy scouts, girl scouts, music band and camp. It is in participating that we will learn to get along with other kids our age and develop friendships in the process. Our parents can only lead us there. We have to take action and participate and hopefully find that we will like it and find a friend or two as well.
As the father of an autistic child sometimes it is not as easy to direct our son or lead him to something. We have to help bring his interests out and allow for him to decide. In certain instances we will take the initiative and enroll him in a program we feel will be suitable for him. We have had the good fortune of placing him in a summer camp program where he is with kids his age and is supervised by mature young counselors who are very responsible and committed to working with special needs children. He enjoys this very much and we are happy because he is happy and we know that the summertime is supposed to be a time where a child can relax, enjoy themselves and have fun and that is why camp is a popular choice for many parents but it does come with a financial commitment that not all parents can afford.
In school we will have our most opportune time in meeting children our age and making friendships. In establishing these bonds we will have to assert our self and feel comfortable so we can engage in conversation with our fellow class mates. An autistic child will certainly have more challenges in opening up, communicating and feeling comfortable in these kinds of social situations. Therefore it is very important that they get the required school services in speech and language therapies that will help them overcome these potential setbacks. As a parent we will be there to support our child and hopefully help them through any emotional struggles they encounter. We tend to draw upon our own childhood experiences in trying to understand our child and what is going on in their life hoping we can advise them properly and give them moral support.
If we can meet one close friend in our life who we will connect with and can talk to and do things with we will be richer for the experience and each friend we make will help shape us as individuals. We all need friends but we must be strong in our ways so we are never easily influenced by what our friends do. If we follow a friend in action that is for a good purpose then that is commendable but if we follow in a mischievous way then that is not to be tolerated and we should be reprimanded for it. We all have to have a sense of good morals and must adhere to them in all aspects of our life. Friends are important but we must be strong internally and be able to make up our own mind on our own and not based on what our friends are doing.
Autistic children tend to do things more independently and have fewer friends because they prefer not to be in social circles. They do not seek to be the center of attention because they do not feel comfortable in the presence of others. if they can avoid crowds they generally will. The sad reality is that many autistic children have so much potential and are very bright but they have a real difficult time expressing themselves and understanding how to conduct themselves properly in public. Most autistic individuals who are very bright tend to gravitate to fields that allow themselves to be away from social contact and involved in areas requiring concentration, focus, dedication and hard work like research, engineering and writing.
If I could make a difference in my son's life that would help him effectively deal with his struggles and ease his uneasiness with others I would first help him realize the importance of responsibility, self discipline and dedication to something worthwhile. I then would work with him in raising his self esteem and then teach him the importance of self acceptance and friendship. If we live our lives with respect, self acceptance, dedication, drive, ambition and friendship then we will find our lives will be more rewarding and we will be able to weather even the rainiest of days.
Friendships are special and when we reflect on our lives we will remember those who touched our lives and were there for us even through our darkest hours. Friends may come and go in our life but a best friend will always be there for us and this is something that we all wish to have. Best friends are forever.
Edward D. Iannielli III