I've never thought of myself as having a shortage of friends. While I would love to have more friends that I could go hang out with on a moments notice, I know that period in my life is long behind me. I've been blessed with some great lifelong friends that despite changes in our lives, if given the opportunity, could pick right up where we left off.
Many times, mostly during the long commute to the office, I like to look back and remember good times I've had with various people that I've crossed paths with over the past 40 years. And I do my best to keep in touch with many of the closest, even if just by a quick email or phone call.
With the introduction of Facebook, which I joined primarily as a tool to post news and information to the autism community, I found myself rediscovering friendships that I had more than 20 years ago. Friends from former places I lived also found me, some as far away as Spain.
This makes me think of Mason.
I hope Mason establishes a friendship someday.
Last week Mason was transitioned to a new lunch table to eat with the "neuro-typicals" as I like to call them. This was a great step for him as I've documented very well the constant social networking struggle he's always dealt with.
With the success we experienced last year in Kindergarten, at the end of the school year, we were upset to learn that Frisco ISD would be moving his special education program to a new school......again.
With his biggest struggles being change and social relationships, I felt, and still feel, like the district is doing him, and other special needs children like him, a grave disservice.
In this case, change isn't good.
Great progress was made last year and while friendships weren't strong, they were developing. I liked to refer to it as "friendship lite". Unfortunately we were forced to start that process all over again.
But Mason is Mason and kids are kids. Both are resilient. The kids he is in class with now are very accommodating, curious and protective of him. Everyone wants to be his friend but he's doesn't reciprocate those intentions the other direction. And that is tough for them to understand.
Along with the change to a new lunch table, his seat assignment also changed in the classroom. He was regrouped to sit next to a young boy I'll call "Charlie". Charlie is an extremely mature 6 year old that has gravitated toward Mason and taken him under his wing. It's comforting to see that he hovers over him and does his best to keep him focused.
If Mason forgets which activity he is supposed to be going to in the afternoon, Charlie is there by his side to guide him. Charlie was excited that Mason was going to be sitting with him at lunch.
I think these type of partnerships are a twofold benefit. The neurotypicals are exposed to children different from themselves, and as such learn great attributes that they can carry on with them throughout life. Kids like Mason benefit by having a chance at a typical friendship. So both parties win.
As I met Mason for lunch one day last week, I had the opportunity to meet Charlie's dad as he was there having lunch as well. I introduced Mason and myself and filled in Charlie's father on how proud I was of his son and what he's done for Mason. I explained about the autism, the constant changing of schools (which even he found perplexing) and the challenge that is presented to Mason.
I openly admitted that I hoped they became good friends.
Years from now, I hope Mason can look back as I’m doing now and be thankful for friendships.