I have prayed for Austin to be more social. I have prayed for this for a long time. I prayed for him to have the desire to make friends. I prayed for him to have the courage to open his mouth and talk to others in social situations, instead of being quiet for fear of saying something dumb. I prayed specifically for something to take the place of baseball when he ages out of this league (which is NOW - this spring will be his last baseball season!).
These prayers are all coming true.
And now I'm wondering what I was thinking!!!!!
Ok, I'm really kidding. Mostly. It's just that Austin becoming Mr. Social has opened a whole new set of "stuff" to deal with. And it's really not easy!!
The hardest thing right now, in my opinion, is helping him navigate social media and communication via texting and email. You think it's hard for a kid on the spectrum to understand subtleties in person?? Try online chatting. Or in a text that reads more like a two-year-old got hold of a keyboard and mashed all the buttons. I am so glad he's wanting to interact with folks now, but we have encountered a few times when there have been misunderstandings.
The one good thing about committing a social faux pas via text or Facebook is that we can be actively involved in talking him through the resolution without the individual on the other end knowing! If we were to be hanging out whispering in his ear to coach him out in public, that would look weird. But we can do the equivalent online and nobody knows!
One important lesson we need to work with is to help him to learn not to have the equivalent of a meltdown online. Over the weekend, a misunderstanding occurred with the band. Austin got very, very upset because the misunderstanding was basically his fault - and he was suffering the repercussions from both the guys in the band and from us. He was in the middle of something that was his fault, and he started taking it out on them via online messages and on us via his mouth. One big change in Austin is his growing ability to relax and think under pressure, aka "mid meltdown". It used to be that during an episode you just had to leave him alone, for a long time, until he calmed down. Now, he doesn't need nearly as much time, but you can also approach him calmly and he is willing to listen and to evaluate the situation. That's hard even for people not on the Spectrum. In the end, we were all able to work together to resolve the situation. He apologized to the guys in the band for his screw-up, and everything was fine after that. He was visibly relieved and relaxed. And so were we!
Navigating social media is a challenge for everyone, I think. And we as parents are really at a disadvantage because we didn't have to deal with this when we were teens. But I wouldn't trade his desire to interact with other teens for all of the challenges!