I see you whispering, your sidelong glances, and giggling. I know you don’t want her touching your things because you might catch her “weirdness.” I see you walking away when she comes near. And I understand your point of view. When I was your age I was the same way. I whispered. I glanced. I giggled. Even though I knew better. I did it anyway. Because like you, I just wanted to fit in.
Now though, I’m older and I’m wiser and I have a daughter with autism. And watching her being ostracized hurts. Even though she is oblivious to the stares, whispering, and giggling it still hurts my heart. Tremendously.
I want her to have a friend who will talk to her. I want her to have a friend who will dance with her. I want her to have a friend who will embrace her quirks; and I want that friend to love her, not despite the quirks, but because of them. Embrace the jumping and flapping and scripting. Watch her play the piano and revel in the fact that she can play chords with her left hand while simultaneously playing The Star Spangled Banner with her right one. And be amazed that she taught herself how to do this because she is able to play by ear.
I won’t force anyone to be her friend though. I certainly don’t want someone to feel obligated to hang out with her. I’ve never been in the business of being fake and I won’t compromise my principles so she will have a friend. I wish other kids though, would see that beauty that is my Debbie. I wish kids this age weren’t so consumed with fitting in, and instead, were more accepting of differences. I wish kids this age could embrace everyone’s quirks and oddities. I wish they would be nice. Why can’t they just be nice?