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Time to Reboot

Monday, 20 June 2016  | 

Time To Reboot

My greatest fear when my daughter was first diagnosed was that she would never have a friend. At three she showed very little interest in other children, unless you count screaming at the top of her lungs if there were too many of them, or being physically sick at the thought of going to nursery the next day. I wondered if other children would ever play with her, I wondered if she would ever care if they did or not. There were so many things I worried about in those days, but that fear was the greatest of them all.

We’ve had some utterly dreadful play dates; her screams could have probably been heard over the other side of town the time her friend decided to rearrange her play house, and I’m not sure the time she decided she wanted a sleepover with two friends and therefore had to rearrange things in her bedroom was much better.

We tried living in a cul-de-sac; lots of children nearby to play with we thought. Unfortunately you can’t pick your neighbours and much as she tried to fit in (and try and try she did) it didn’t happen the way we hoped. Most days ended with tears and meltdowns and more tears and more meltdowns.

We now live surrounded by sheep and cows, we have guinea pigs, and our days are calmer. She has a couple of very close friends, both of whom live about ten minutes drive away. They understand that there are things that can’t be moved when they come round to play, they don’t think less of her that sometimes she hides under her desk and cries if the work is too hard at school and they understand that when she tells them she wants them to go home, she doesn’t mean to be mean. They are friendships that I haven’t engineered, friendships her teachers haven’t engineered, friendships forged through shared interests, mutual respect and lots of caring on both sides.

I have come to realise over the years that I can’t engineer her friendships, I can’t make sure she has someone to play with every break time at school and that it’s ok that at times she needs to be alone. She likes other children now, as she has got older, they have become more predictable and also more interesting. But she also likes time on her own and that’s ok too. In fact the more children around at a given time, the more likely she is to spend some time alone.

It’s hard to look at a group of children and see your child on the edge, on the outside looking in. But sometimes as parents we have to realize that that is our problem not theirs. I now ask myself a question. Is she happy?
If the answer is yes, I have to accept that right now that is what she needs. After all, sometimes we all just need a little bit of time to reboot.

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