Neuro Typical Children Playing With my Son
I am sometimes saddened to watch my son trying to play with neuro typical children, who seem to be unsure what to make of him. They either treat him badly or ignore him completely. The instances of him being readily accepted are quite rare.
He is bigger than most seven year olds. He probably looks like a giant to kids who are a couple of years younger than he is. He is also socially awkward, but at least he tries.
At a function a few months ago, my son was trying to insert himself into a game in which two children were battling wrestling figures. They did not know that I was watching to see what would happen. He knelt down beside them and asked if he could play. They refused to let him join them. He said, “Please? Can I play too?” They denied him once again, then pulling the toys away from him.
At that point, I moved to a place where I was more within their view. They looked up, caught sight of me, and got a look of “Uh oh” on their faces. I made a stern face and shook my head. This was all that I did. Cameron did not see me do this. The boys grudgingly each gave him a toy to play with.
I was hoping that this would be an end to the bad behavior. That was not to be the case. I noticed that although they had given him toys, they did not attempt to engage him in the game. They ignored him completely. He appeared not to notice this, but it broke my heart.
Yesterday, I was at a local clinic for Cameron’s checkup with the ENT doctor. They have a play room set off from the waiting room. It has a television, a table and chairs, and some toys that are attached to the walls.
Cameron’s style of play is often confusing for those who are not around him much and who do not watch the same shows that he watches. He watches a lot of Power Rangers and other shows that involve battles between the good guys and the bad guys. Because of this, he thinks that everyone wants to play that they are having a battle. He’s not aggressive; he just wants to pretend to have a fight.
As is the usual case, the children that came into the room after him were confused and a bit put off by his attempts to play. Some thought that he was an aggressive bully. Some thought that he was weird. No one wanted to play with him. He kept trying the same things, with the same results, because he didn’t know what else to do.
One little girl came out and complained to her mommy that he was being mean. I was sitting right across from the door. He wasn’t being mean; he was simply acting out scenes from one of his shows.
I approached the little girl and her mommy in an gentle and non-aggressive way. I knelt down next to the little girl. I said, “Honey, he’s not trying to be mean. He just watches a lot of things like Power Rangers. He plays like that, and he thinks that everyone wants to battle. He doesn’t understand that you don’t want to battle. If he says he wants to fight, just tell him that you don’t want to. He won’t hurt you.”
Her mom said to her, “You and your brother fight. It’s like that.”
I was so relieved by the mother’s response! She didn’t know exactly where I was coming from, but her heart and mind were quite open.
When I watch Cameron try to engage in play with other children, I feel a mixture of joy and sadness. I feel joy, because two years ago, he would not have done that. He would have separated himself from the group and not taken any notice of them at all. I feel sadness, because he is not always accepted by the group. More often than not, he is the outcast.
At times like this, I remind myself of how far he has come. I am determined to look at the bright side. He has been a true warrior. We could all learn something from children such as him.