Eddie struggles with peer relationships and doesn’t typically enjoy other children unless with an adult. It seems the only purpose of the adult is to keep the children at least 2-3 feet away or out of his personal bubble. If touching is involved for the purpose of the activity that is OK, but certainly puts the other children’s safety at risk. I almost feel like having parents sign a disclaimer before playing even “Ring Around the Rosie” with Eddie. It might read something like:
“Yes, we will be playing a traditional game and in most cases all children enjoy the activity. However, in the event of pinching or scratching please know your child will not die. Eddie does not intentionally mean harm; your child was just closest to him at the time of his meltdown.”
Now, can Timmy come over?!? Luckily, I have a few friends who always say, “Yes!”
Today, Eddie found a benefit to friendship that showed signs of promise. I was watching my friend’s kids this afternoon. She has 4 children, and with my 3, that makes 7 kids in the house. In some states, I probably need a daycare license for such an event. Eddie was sitting at the table listening to some music and there was also a bag of cookies near him but out of his reach. Being an outstanding caregiver, I was pretty much letting the kids have free reign over the cookies.
Every time a child came to the table, they would take a cookie for themselves. Upon hearing footsteps, Eddie would say “cookie.” Very faithfully, every single one of them would give Eddie a cookie when they got one. This meant each child had a few cookies and Eddie had that multiplied by about six. When a cookie was placed in front of him and he didn’t realize it, they would even move his hand on top of the cookie so he could find it. The kids range in age from 2-11 and they all offered this help without my guidance.
I was so impressed by this interaction that I did not intervene. I realize Eddie should not have a couple dozen cookies in one sitting (even though they were small), and that if this goes unchecked he could quickly outweigh me. However, he was interacting and talking to those kids in his own way and acknowledging their presence instead of seeking isolation.
I was so proud of him and of all the kids for helping him, even though Eddie usually ignores them. Once he has the importance of friends down, then I’ll tackle the idea that friendship is a two-way street. This is a concept his 7-year-old sister has yet to grasp.