Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stupid Friend


One of the less talked about parts of Rhombencephalosynapsis is the social aspects. I think this is an area that vary greatly from RS kid to RS kid. But from talking to other parents I think this is an issue for many RS families. Many kids with RS have social skills that may be lacking. For Abby this is definitely the case.

In preschool one of her primary IEP goals was to make and keep 1 friend. (Can I tell you how sad this was as a parent???) She is usually the kid, in a group setting, who either hangs by herself or finds the nearest grown up to talk to. She will play alongside others but rarely with them. Even when Grace is playing with a group and invites Abby in she will stick to herself. The only person she really played well with until recently was Grace.

In four-year-old preschool she did a little better. I think the small class size (7) and familiarity (all the same kids as 3-year-old preschool) helped quite a bit. She was able to make friends and play with others. It was great progress. That being said when she meets new people it is usually a debacle. She will often have inappropriate interactions. It can be anything from avoiding a person and not responding to them to more overt responses like making rude comments, being mean, becoming oddly obsessed with people, etc. We always say that Abby lacks her "social filter". That little voice inside your head that helps you figure out what to say and what not to say is missing in her brain.

This year she has had the opportunity to make friends in her new class. She is in a multiple disability kinderclass so the kids are less "challenging" for her. Her best friend is Tori. Tori uses a walker and is the first kid Abby has encountered who is slower than her. I think that is a draw for Abby. Being able to relate to her socially and not worry about keeping up with her physically is a game changer. She simply adores Tori. She talks about her non-stop and just loves her to pieces.

Unfortunately her adoration can be a little much. Because she lacks that social filter she can often go way over the top. Tori doing something an inane as choosing to play with someone else can be a personal affront to Abby's social sensibilities. This week when Tori chose to play at a different "center" than Abby, Abby called her a stupid friend and started to wail. I feel so blessed that her teachers know exactly how to handle her. But it still makes me sad.


We live in a social world full of social beings. Parenting a child who struggles with the most basic social situations (like meeting someone new) is hard. You spend half your time explaining her "odd" behavior to people who really don't want to even try to understand. I also fear for her later years. Being a teenager is awkward enough. Being a teenager with physical and social issues could be excruciating. We just choose to take it one day at a time. One social interaction at a time. Plus, we pray... A LOT. :D

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