The Harsh Reality of Autism and Friendship
About a year ago, my daughter was invited to her first school birthday party since the pandemic.
It was a relief but my heart also skipped a beat. I had feared not being invited for so long and kept hoping if it did happen she wouldn’t notice.
I was nervous but she wanted to go. She was in second grade and still in a general education class at the time. This was going to be a party filled with typical kids and their parents.
I was on edge the entire car ride and stayed at the party to make sure I could quickly intervene if needed.
When we arrived, kids were happy to see her and they ran over shouting her name. One little girl ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug. The girl told me this was her bestie.
My heart fluttered with joy for her to have a friend. They did everything together at school. Her parent even came to me and asked to set up a playdate the following weekend.
My anxiety eased a bit because these kids seemed to genuinely like her. She was accepted and was wanted here.
My daughter participated in the activities, she was nice, and she even sang happy birthday to the kid. She always struggled with celebrating others. The noise, lights, and candles all have upset her from a young age.
It felt nice to go to a party where I didn’t have to explain her autism to anyone because she didn’t do anything unexpected. I bragged about it to my husband, to our families, and to my friends.
It was a win and I felt like the most amazing parent proud over something as menial as enjoying a birthday party.
The next morning before 10 a.m. I saw the school calling my cell phone.
My heart always skips a beat and I lose my breath when I see the number.
It had been so long since I received a call but the anxiety never goes away. When they don’t call, you wait for it. You count the days, months, weeks.
She had a rough morning. She hit a teacher, she threw things, she couldn’t calm down.
It was bad.
I had to get there ASAP. And just like that—yesterday was erased like it never happened.
None of my questions to determine the “why” could be answered.
I didn’t argue because I was devastated. It all hit me so hard because she was perfectly fine one day and suspended from school the next.
What I thought was a manifestation determination meeting turned out to be a change of placement meeting.
Ten bad minutes of one rough day can change our entire life in the way kids, teachers, parents, and staff see our kids. And we never get to the root of how the situation escalated or how it could have been de-escalated.
They kept saying she doesn’t belong there. But I saw her belong.
It’s a year later and many of the children from the birthday party and her old class don’t talk to her. Her playdate was canceled and I never heard from the parent again.
My daughter is the kid that hit a teacher at seven-years-old and somehow that negates everything else she has ever done in her entire life.