And then there's us...separated from the neurotypical gang on their side of the fence by social skills groups and speech therapy and whatever else is on the horizon, and yet separated from the special needs gang on their side of the fence by not having a name, a tag, a label, by not qualifying for help from the Regional Center (and thus unable to join in on the special events/classes/camps/nights out for spectrum kids that the nice parents from the social skills group keep inviting us to), possibly by being just neurotypical enough not to be special.
(And no, I have no idea how it is that I'm on neither side of the fence, and yet I'm talking about the view from my side of the fence. Don't bother me with logic right now. I'm wallowing!)
(And yes, I do perhaps see where my son gets his social-isolation issues from. I'm wallowing, but I'm not stupid.)
And then my little, quirky, can't-quite-label-him guy delivers an unintentional punch to my gut, and I realize that no matter where we actually are in this world of needs both special and mundane, no matter what we're calling what these differences are, we're almost there...there being the kind of awareness I've been afraid of for a long time. And I realize I don't really want to talk about that other stuff any more. I just want to tell you what he said, and how sad it made me. And so I'm telling you.
It started with an email from Baroy yesterday, while I was at work:
N just broke my heart. We're doing his homework, making sentences out of his vocabulary words, and we came to the word "many." N suggests, "I have many friends." Then he says to me, "I don't really have many friends. But I can use the sentence anyway, right?"Ooooph.
When I got home from work that evening, N asked me--as he always does--if I wanted him to read his homework to me. When he got to the sentence in question, he read, "I have many friends," and then, sotto voce, "Except really I don't."
Before I could say anything, Em stepped in, having overheard the exchange. "N!" she exclaimed. "That's not true. You have LOTS of friends!" And she began ticking off names. And although he corrected her on a number of them (she was being overzealous, listing the names of her friends, the older brothers and sisters of a number of his friends), he did end up grinning.
"See?" I said. "Em's right. Even if you don't count J and G and R, you still have lots of friends. MANY friends, even."
He admitted that maybe we were right. And yet, he knows he's right, too, our protests to the contrary. He knows that the playdates are few and far between, and seem fewer and further in comparison to his sister's nonstop social whirl. He knows that there's been not a single birthday party invitation from his class at school. He knows that he sometimes gets terrified and unable to cope when other kids are around...often even when they're other kids he likes. He knows how hard it all sometimes is for him. It's his life, after all, and he's living it. He knows. He's perfectly, heartbreakingly, aware.