December 2, 2013

Wish Your Autistic Child Had More Friends? 3 Things You Can Do to Help. ~ Andrea Anderson

How one mom helped her two autistic children find greater happiness in their relationships with others.

Have you felt the hurt in your heart as you watched all the other kids in your child’s class have sleepovers? Have friends knock on their door and ask them to play after school? Have other kids calling to talk on the phone and your child seems to be left in the dust?

Do you wish your child could fit in?

I understand. These are the words I hear most often when I talk to moms about what they want most for their child. These are the words I remember thinking to myself when I recollect the angst and pain of having two sons on the spectrum and wishing for them to be like other kids—to fit in and have an easy life. Somehow, I equated fitting in with having an easy life.

I’ve since learned that fitting in is not equivalent to having an easy life and the pursuit of fitting in will undoubtedly create more pain than ease in your child’s and your lives.

Wanting to fit in, or the idea of my kids not fitting in, was one of the secret fears I carried in my subconscious.

So what did I do to help my sons have play-dates and begin to connect well with other kids?

Honestly, I focused on three things:

1. Not caring if they were invited to play-dates or, letting go of the need to have them accepted and liked by other kids.

I noticed it was my thinking that had me act and feel desperate to have my kids fit in. When I stopped trying so hard and instead let go, it became easier to put my energy into what helped propel my sons forward—connecting with parents and kids who did like them, who accepted them just as they were. I put my energy where we were well received.

This is important, so I will repeat it: I put my energy where we were well received.

So many of us want to be well received, and when we’re not, we try harder to show others we’re good people and that our kids are good kids. This never works well.

Let me take a moment to elaborate here. Being well received is all about spending time with others who genuinely like you and who genuinely like your kids. People you feel comfortable around. People who see your child’s strengths. People who bring out the best in your son or daughter. People who don’t need your child to act a certain way to accept them, they just think they’re great—as is. This is what being well received is about.

2. I helped their bodies heal and clear more of their spectrum behaviors and symptoms through natural holistic approaches.

This helped them settle into themselves and be less abrupt and more graceful in their social interactions. So how did I help them settle into themselves?

First, cleaning their bodies out with food—good ol’ fashioned, all natural, organic food.

When your child is eating food with artificial flavors and other chemicals their body can become imbalanced, their actions and reactions can be imbalanced—they can feel shier, act moody, more abrupt with others, etc.

Putting more natural, real food in helps their body relax—bringing greater balance to their emotions. It helps them to feel better about themselves, making it easier to connect with peers.

Next, I cleaned up our living environment so they could breathe only healthy air and bathe, play, and live surrounded by healthy products.

By replacing old synthetic products in our home for natural products, using all natural cleaning products (shampoos, lotions, insect repellents, etc.) I gave their body a much needed rest and a boost.

Now, their bodies more efficiently cleanse and clear out the gunk they’d been exposed to. This natural cleansing allowed them to settle into themselves more.

Cleaning out the gunk—as I so eloquently put it—helps restore balance to the body. If a child’s body is off, they may be moodier, more withdrawn, or more uncomfortable with themselves. Restoring balance to their body can help them feel more at ease, improve their behaviors and increase their confidence.

What else did I do to help my sons more easily make friends?

3. I learned to love them just the way they were—imperfect with all sorts of ASD symptoms, and not well received by others.

Why does this matter?

Because if I wasn’t fully accepting them and seeing the best in them—then others couldn’t see the best in them. Their peers, and other parents were only seeing what I was seeing in them. When I stopped focusing on what I didn’t like about what they were doing and instead, found the things they did that I loved, the way other’s saw them started to shift. Their peers could start to see their strengths and, they began to make friends.

So often we think we need to make our kids better in order for them to be accepted and liked. Yes, we need to help our kids get better and heal—because they deserve to live their best life—but we don’t need to help them fit in.

Next time you wrestle with the thought—I wish my son or daughter could have more friends—check in with yourself, which one of the above 3 steps can you do to help make this happen?

Blessings to you! I know this parenting a child with sensory stuff, ADHD or autism is not always easy. Kudos to you for trying your best!

With warmth and respect for all that you do for your kids,


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Assistant Editor: Richard May/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Hepingting

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Andrea Anderson