Beyond practical independence skills, the number one concern I hear from all parents of special needs kids is the same. Their kids are lonely and have no friends. One of the most painful deficits they have is their lack of social skills.
My son is challenged in this area too. You will often see him invading other's personal space by talking too loudly or talking too much. He doesn't like to patiently wait his turn during a game, nor does he tolerate losing. He loves to talk about his world and rarely asks about yours.
These are common social skills that are lacking in many kids with special needs. For years I tried to help my son form friendships with other special needs kids. This failed. We then pursued a different approach and this has been successful with our family.
You might be asking, "Where do I find someone willing to befriend my child?" Here is what I did. When our kids were young, I asked some of my friends to "watch" my kids while I ran errands. This really meant playing with them, being their friends. The blessing born from this connection was friends became family. Our friends Robert and Kay became "Uncle" Robert and "Aunt" Kay.
After high school, I started asking the school aids if they would be interested in "watching" our boys, for pay of course. They were ideal because they were already screened and fingerprinted because of school employment requirements. They usually worked in the schools because of their love for children. My youngest son continues to benefit from this arrangement. Although he is 26, we still have three very special young men in our lives that take Sean out a couple of times a year. A few former babysitters also take him out occasionally for a social outing.
There are a few hilarious and terrifying friendship stories I share in my upcoming book, "The Song of My Hope" about adventures with friends and our kids. Thankfully our friends from years past still love us - and we treasure them!
I'd love to hear if you've found a great way to provide friends for your kids. Many will benefit from your suggestion in the comment section.
Until next week, God bless!
See you soon at www.sparklinghope.net.