Does Not Compute

Joyce and I, in addition to being friends for thirty (eek!) years, have something in common: we have sons on the Autism spectrum. While her son has not been officially labeled with Asperger's, he does have the catch all diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which usually is given when a child shows many signs of AS or Autism, but cannot be clearly defined as one or the other.

Anyway, sometimes having a child a few years older means that I can offer some insights to what she's experiencing, because my family has already been there, done that and has the scars to prove it. She probably will attest to the times where I was a royal pain in the ass to her, because she didn't want to face something that had to be done. (Like choosing a school for her convenience, rather than her son's newly diagnosed needs). Hey, she does the same for me-it's what friends do.

Today, though, she related an experience because she needed to vent and I had no answers, mainly because I live it, too.

One of her friend's sons was invited to spend a day at the beach with a third friend. The mothers are all friendly, knowing each other because their children all attend the same elementary school. The phone conversation was about how parent 'A' was worried that parent 'B' would not be as diligent in watching the boys while they played, it's the beach and it's important to watch the kids, make sure they don't wander off to the water alone, get enough sunscreen, etc.

Joyce admitted to the mom that no, mom 'B' won't watch your child as well as you, because that's not her son. Still, mom 'A' kept complaining and lamenting how she told her son, she'll let him go, but still, she will worry the whole time. As she listened, she grew more and more frustrated, until she finally told mom 'A' that she just couldn't listen anymore.

I get it. Boy, do I get it.

The conversation, one that so many moms have with their friends is one that Joyce and I don't have with others. Why? Our sons do not get invited out for play dates. At 15, GameTeen has NEVER been invited to someone else's house to play, hang out, etc. The last birthday party he was invited to was when he was seven and one of the other children from daycare invited all the kids at the day care to come to his party at the skating rink. Before that, a party when he was four. Other than that, nothing.

Nada. Zip. Zero. Never.

It's one of those things that as a person with Asperger's, he may never realize that this is a normal part of youth that he's missing. I do, though, and the rare occasions that I stop and think about it are frustrating. So, I try hard not to do it and move on with it. GameTeen is pretty happy with his video games, his movies and his obsession du jour, but he will never improve his social skills if he doesn't have friends to practice with.

So, I get Joyce's irritation at the situation, because I have walked that road before. It's a lonely one. The kid is fifteen and he does not have a single friend.

Alas, this time, the only answer I could come up with is one that might help me, not Joyce. I thought that perhaps GameTeen's school can provide class lists with names and phone numbers, so the moms or dads of these socially awkward kids can provide an assist with "Hey, do you want to try calling Billy to see if he'd like to come over and swim in the pool with you?" and then coach the kids through the process of making a phone call and having a simple conversation.

Yeah, I know, that sounds weird. However, to moms like Joyce, me and many others who are not Mom "A" or Mom "B", it's a sad fact of life.


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