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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Aspergers Syndrome and friendship



Let me start by saying I was really proud of Ethan for going on this men's camping trip with church last weekend.
For a start, camping in the north of England in September is not for the fainthearted. The weather was gloomy, cold and rainy. Secondly, by Friday teatime he'd just finished a long week at work which had been filled to the brim with overtime and he was shattered. And thirdly, he barely knew anyone. Fourthly, actually, the weekend was packed with activities, meetings and social time from dawn to dusk. No chance for Ethan to slip off for some downtime with just his iPod and 3G for company. In fact I don't think the site even had 3G. The trip would have tested my social stamina and emotional endurance so goodness knows how Ethan was feeling about it. And yet he went, because I wanted him to. And he almost left with a smile on his face...
...but he didn't speak to that guy we'd both identified as being a good person for him to raise his Aspergers with: the guy we'd both agreed would be a good person to meet up with every couple of months to keep Ethan accountable and spur him on. This smarted with me a bit because I thought I'd let Ethan know how important this was to me. How, for me, it was kind of an indication of how serious he was about dealing with the issues that were affecting us both about his Aspergers. One of the problems seems to be that what Ethan hears one minute is forgotten the next.
It was also disappointing that Ethan didn't really gel with any of the other (70) guys that were there over the weekend. When I asked if he'd had any good chats with anyone, he said that the men mainly just talked about football (something he has absolutely no interest in and no knowledge of). So Ethan mainly stood on the sidelines looking, at best, floundering, at worst, unsociable.
He relayed to me with incredulity when he came home how much men knew about football: how obsessed they were with it, how emotional they got, how they remembered fouls or goals during matches that happened years ago. I gently broke it to him that they would probably find it unfathomable that he knows who every film is directed by, who stars in it and what year it came out!
I don't know why it bothers me so much that Ethan doesn't really have friends; that he doesn't really connect with other men in a way that builds into anything more than polite chit-chat when they see each other. I guess because, however much I try not to let it, to me it's subconsciously an indication of how likeable Ethan is, how nice he is as a person and therefore of his worth.

He did however meet another dad from school for breakfast at the pub yesterday. And he didn't return home until almost noon - they were just chatting...and drinking beer (at 9.30am in the morning, as you do). He came home on a high - and I don't think it was just the effects of the beer! 
If he can build just one or two real friendships, it would do us both good.

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