Friday nights these days are all about high school football games and time spent together as a family. Is this what other families do? Or, do they just make sure their high schoolers get a ride to the game? I ask because my high schooler has Autism and we need to define what “normal” is for our family.
I’m not sure that my son cares about attending these events. But we are going anyway. Why? This is an opportunity for integration. It’s just not happening during regular school hours. It’s a chance for him to observe his peers and be part of the high school dynamic. And it’s a chance for all of his fellow students to see him being part of their community. Besides, he appears to be having fun while we’re there.
It’s also been a chance for me to connect with this community. I happen to have a co-worker who has a son on the team. I’ve been amazed at how important this one connection has been. At our first game, he introduced me to a parent who also has a child with special needs at the school who has offered to answer any questions I may have and help me navigate the world of special education at this high school if I need it.
My friend and co-worker also introduced my son to a bunch of students who are very involved in student government and peer mentoring. One of the kids we met happened to already be a peer mentor in one of my son’s classes. This may not turn into anything, but it could turn into something. A familiar face in the hallway would be nice. A friendly person saying hello to my son at school might make his day. Maybe someone will even sit with him during lunch. None of this may happen but at least we’re trying to create an environment where it could happen.
After all, that’s all we can do.
For those of you who have kids on the spectrum, this is part of our social skills plan this year. In middle school, our son participated in sports. With the transition to high school, now we’re dealing with cut sports and a kid who doesn’t want to do Cross Country. So attending the football games needed to be part of our plan. We’ve got all of the games in the calendar. Dad is taking our son on his weekends. I’m taking him on mine. We may have one of our ABA therapist take him once so our son has a chance to be there without his parents. This year, we’ll attend. Next year, who knows? Maybe he’ll want to sit in the student section. Fingers crossed.