The youth from our church had an event last night – a video/photo scavenger hunt of sorts. They are put into groups, given a huge list of things to complete (i.e. bagging someone’s groceries, painting each other’s nails, eating a bag of marshmallows….all fun stuff), and have about four hours to complete as many items on the list as they can. Big Man and the Princess both went. Little Man stayed home.
Just about 9pm, both Big Man and the Princess’ groups showed up at our house to work on a bunch of the list items. Little Man was excited for them to be there, but having 8 or so extra people in the house doing all kinds of fun stuff became overwhelming for him. He wanted so much to be part of it, but it was too much. He ended up in the recliner, close to them, but not in the same room as them, on the edge of things. He asked for Jaws, and I held them both in a tight ball. He wouldn’t go upstairs. He wouldn’t go to the back bedroom where their computer, the Xbox, and another television are. He wanted to be right where he was. He wanted to know what the kids were doing. But he had to do it his way.
He would love to be able to join in these activities. We know his limitations. He wouldn’t last. A meltdown would likely ensue. He would want to come home. He’s been down this road before. He did go to the Star Wars marathon this past summer. He made it a few hours, and then I picked him up. He wants so badly to be accepted, to be part of the group. At one point last night, I suggested he get his headphones. He didn’t want to. They are rather large and conspicuous. I reminded him these kids are good kids. They won’t laugh at him. They accept him. They know about his autism. They take him just as he is.
We will have to figure this out as he gets older – how to let him be part of things, in his way, knowing his limitations, knowing we will have to accommodate. I was proud of him last night. He hung in there while the groups were at our house, even if he did it with headphones on and Jaws in hand. It did break my heart a little bit – he wanted so much to be in the middle of it, joining in the activities, but he knew he couldn’t do it just as they were doing it. He stayed right there though, his way.