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Making Friends · Saturday April 12, 2008 by Christine

by Christine

I’m convinced that one of the reasons mainstream schooling doesn’t work for many children with Aspergers is because they’re being forced together with many other children of the same age in order to ‘socialise’

Even in reception year Christopher would complain that the playground was ‘too noisy’ and of course we didn’t understand him.

That’s where home schooling has a clear advantage. People often seem to think that by home schooling your children they will miss out on socialising but I’ve just looked at our diary for the last week and boy are they wrong!

In spite of his Aspergers Christopher wants to play and have friends, he just doesn’t always get it right! We’ve found that two hours of play is ideal, five hours of people at school is not. Christopher gets to the point where he wants to be on his own and at home he has the time and space to go to his room with a video for half an hour and come back down when he’s ready to talk.

At school he couldn’t get away to wind down when it all got too much for him , the result was that he finally escaped the school premises firstly at the age of 4 and again at 6!

We went to our local National Autistic society support group yesterday. Usually Christopher is the only child there but yesterday there were three babies and a toddler. Christopher froze and wouldn’t acknowledge anyone at first (something I haven’t seen for a while ) Knowing he felt stressed, I sat him next to me, gave him a book to read and ignored him.

He began to take an interest in twin boys of 8 months lying next to us and next thing I knew he was down on his hands and knees playing with them and chatting to their mum! He helped me collect the coffee cups at the end, had an animated discussion with another mum about funding for a playstation for the older boys in the group and announced on the way home that he’d made a new friend. It turned out to be another mum who’d been speaking to him.

In real life we mix with people of all age groups and abilities so why should school be any different?

Christopher fits far more naturally into the key stage 1 year groups at school as emotionally he’s at the same level of those younger than himself. By allowing him to play with the younger ones it has given him some responsability and he will listen to them read, explain how to play certain games and feels accepted and part of the group.

After school football, swimming with the National Autistic society, having small groups of friends round are all helping Christopher to learn how to be socially acceptable in a natural and caring enviroment. Older and younger people are more tolerant, less likely to bully and by building up Christopher’s confidence and self esteem, with careful selection I’m sure that he will be successful in his career choice albeit running his own business, being a sportsman or something which doesn’t involve too much ‘team work’ but we’ll get there!

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