Brendan’s friend group formed by accident. I was running a parent group at our school district one evening. Our speaker was running late, so I started a brainstorming session. Each parent participated in sharing triumphs and concerns. Parents shared great ideas to help our kids. At the end of the evening, the group agreed that we needed a parent support group.
We set a date to meet again. The second meeting was bigger and better. Another parent said we needed to bring our kids with us so they could meet. So, by the third meeting, our group was complete. We had a group that included parents, kids with disabilities, and their siblings. Our kids really connected and were well on their way to becoming friends.
We named the group Asperger Social and Discussion Group. We had monthly meetings and events. While parents met, the kids did fun activities that included social skills practice. Some of the social events included dances, family potlucks at local parks, skating, movies, hiking, and swimming. While not all the kids became great friends, most bonded with at least one other kid. Siblings formed friendships, too. We became like an extended family.
The kid’s friendships might not look like ours. They didn’t have to be in contact every day. Phone calls were infrequent. Facebook? Maybe…maybe not. Texting was usually the most typical form of communication between meetings.
However, when this group of socially awkward teens got together, conversations flew. Manga, building architecture, ancient Egypt, the most recent video game…it didn’t matter. The connection was real, and friendships developed.
Many of our kids had friends for the first time.
Over the years, these friendships continued as some of our kids moved on to college or other jobs. Distance might keep them apart for most of the year and communication may be almost non-existent, but when they get together, their friendships remain.
Parents: looking for a group for your kids? You might look to “Meetup” groups in your area. You can find an existing group or start your own. Check newspapers and local resources to find a group that might fit into your family’s lifestyle. Who knows, another generation might find those connections that could last a lifetime.
You can search for groups in your area in Services, Groups, and Events.
It’s easy to get caught up in the social challenges that children with disabilities face. But when we consider the progress made over the last 80-90 years, we can be grateful for how far we have come.
Categories: Family Support