I don’t even know where the phrase: “Kicking butt and taking names” came from, but occasionally it pops into my mind…even though the word “butt” is not commonly used in our household. However, I’ve watched Ethan do some pretty great things [socially] lately, and I have decided to alter the saying above to fit Ethan’s progress…he’s “Making friends and taking names…”
I’ve spoken to several friends and many therapists about how common it is for kids with ASD who’ve had early social thinking/skills instruction to have pretty stellar social skills in many situations. Ethan is one of those kids…four straight years of private/small social thinking groups for two hours a week (instead of T-ball, Boy Scouts, etc.). Just in the last year we finally felt it was time to take a break from the classes/groups. I know all of Ethan’s hard work (and that of his therapists and teachers) will all pay off in the future, and I have to admit I LOVE it when I see and feel it paying off in the present, as well.
There have been several times in the past year that Ethan has received compliments from adults (usually parents of neurotypical children) about how outgoing and engaging he is. He truly enjoys interacting with other children and doesn’t have a shy bone in his body…so when other kids might stand back – he jumps right in, introduces himself and asks other kids to play!
This past week, a boy (who we didn’t know but was about Ethan’s age) played for over an hour with Ethan and Greg (in a new environment, no less). Ethan could have easily played with Greg alone and remained in his “comfort zone” - but he didn’t; Ethan sought out this other boy’s companionship. The boys both really enjoyed interacting with each other (and with Greg) and it left me in the background smiling, thinking to myself: “Ethan is ‘Making friends and taking names’ again!” While I haven’t kept an ongoing list of these names, I wish I had started long ago. Wouldn't that be something inspirational for Mom and Dad? A reminder of social successes out in the real world! I guess it is time to put pen to paper and start our list...and so it will begin with Angelo.
When we said our goodbyes to Angelo, the boys even posed for a quick photo with bright eyes and happy smiles. Gotta’ love it!
Leigh Attaway Wilcox is a writer and editor for the projectLD family of companies. Leigh is Assistant Editor of the internationally acclaimed AutismSpot.com and her work can be found on many of the pLDNetworks sites. Leigh is the author of ALL BETTER: A Touch-and-Heal Book published by Piggy Toes Press in 2007. Leigh lives in North Texas with her husband and young son who loves reading, LEGOs, Mario Bros. and also happens to live with Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder.