I watch with fascination when Tink is around other children. She has progressed so much from the days when she truly appeared to be in a world of her own, with very little to no regard for other children around her. She still has a million miles to go. Here is a letter to all the children Tink comes into contact with.
Dear wannabe friend
Thank you for trying to play with that little girl. Yes, the one over there with the pigtails. I could see you trying to talk to her and the quizzical look you gave when she didn’t talk back.
You see, she has autism. She’s autistic. She’s a little different from you – her brain works in a different way. She doesn’t yet fully understand about conversation – that if someone talks to you, you generally need to talk back. I’m sorry she didn’t respond when you asked her to come and play; she wasn’t being rude, she just didn’t understand the question – but doesn’t know how to tell you that.
I’m sorry she doesn’t understand rules and how games work, taking turns and so on. She’s learning at school, but it takes time.
I’m sorry if she pushed in, knocked over your sandcastle or tower, or took the ball you were playing with. She doesn’t understand that it hurts your feelings when she does these things.
I’m sorry that she screamed at you when you tried to take her hand. She doesn’t like being touched by unfamiliar people and likes to be in control.
I’m sorry if you didn’t like it when she jumped in the car ride with you when it was your turn – she loves the rides, but doesn’t understand she can’t just join in someone else’s go.
Yes, she has a dummy but no, she’s not a baby. She needs to suck on something to help her feel less anxious in strange situations – it helps to calm and focus her. I bet you have something you like to cuddle, stroke or hold if you’re feeling a bit worried too?
Please don’t give up on her. She needs friends like you. She needs you to accept her and understand that while she has differences, she’s still a kid, just like you. Once you get to know her, and she you, she’ll make you laugh and laugh with you. She’ll chase you and love to be chased. She’ll take turns with you. But she needs you to show her, teach her, help her learn how to play, how to be a friend.
Do you think you can do that?
A Hopeful Mummy