top of page

Making Friends


In Maryland, the weather is beautiful in Spring. Most days, it’s warm, with an occasional cool spell. Looking out the window, the weather calls out, “come outside! It’s time to play!”


Meanwhile, I feel like I’m brushing cobwebs off of myself. We’ve been diligently quarantining outside of essential needs and have barely met anyone or made friends in our new community since we moved last July. With Maggie’s condition, we weren’t taking any chances. Now, we feel more comfortable venturing out and making new friends in the neighborhood.


We made new friends with a family on the corner. They have two little ones that are roughly the same age as my Maggie and Hazel. They often play in their front yard. It was during one of my walks with Hazel that we introduced ourselves. In no time, Hazel made herself at home playing with her new friends. They chased each other around, blew bubbles, poured water from watering cans, and pulled each other in kid wagons.


Hazel is my social butterfly and she craves playtime with other children. She’s the kind of kid who will go up to other kids in a playground and say, “play, friend?” with an outstretched hand. When she’s surrounded by other children, she feeds off their energy and her smile is contagious.


Maggie is the opposite. After a few front yard play dates on Maggie’s school days, I brought Maggie with me and Hazel on a weekend. At ABA and ECI, I’ve been told that Maggie seems more lively when around other children. That was not the case in our impromptu play date. She spent most of the time sitting alone in the wagon just watching. I stayed close to her while we watched Hazel play. Maggie seemed scared and unsure of what to do, so I made sure she knew I was right there. Eventually, she climbed out and played a little with the watering cans. The kids came up to Maggie, but they didn’t know what to make of her. She’s nonverbal and her social cues are nonexistent. Sometimes, she’ll just stare at you without responding to any verbal communication, which can be unnerving to someone who doesn’t know her. Soon, she dived back to the wagon. I imagine she felt like it was her safe space.


I talked to Maggie’s teachers afterward. “How is she with other kids? Like, really?”


“She mostly keeps to herself, but she likes playing when there are other kids around. She just doesn’t play with the other kids. We’re working on parallel play, but it depends on her mood,” one of her teachers said.


Another one of her therapists said something that sounded so right and true about Maggie. “Sometimes, we have kids who are very quiet and reserved when they’re at school when they go to a regular school. When they come here, it’s as if they know that all of the kids here are special and different, too. Some of them are a little scared of neurotypical kids, but they thrive when they’re in an environment with special needs kids.”


I think that’s what it is for Maggie. She’s a little scared of regular kids and feels more comfortable with special needs kids in her classroom and at ABA. She doesn’t necessarily play with them or interact with them in a meaningful way, but she’s comfortable and will engage in parallel play.


Both of my kids have such different social needs. I want Hazel to have all the friends she wants. I want her to feel free to build relationships with her peers and to have fun on a social level. I want Maggie to make friends, too, but for Maggie, it’s going to look different. I hope that she develops a connection with kids in her class and has friendships of her own. She may never be the social butterfly Hazel is wanting to be, but that’s okay. It’s like everything else. Maggie will make friends and feel comfortable around other kids on her time when she’s ready.

Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page