Outside Looking In

C on the outside looking in.

Here is a photo that breaks a tiny bit of my heart.

It was taken yesterday at a third birthday party for one of the girls in C's preschool. The children—including C's twin—were engaged in dancing, singing, pretend play, and other group activities. Meanwhile, C was mostly on the outside, the periphery, looking in, standing to the side, his little hand curled in something I think of as a manual question mark.

But maybe I'm painting an unfair picture of the situation: C wasn't hiding, and he wasn't in a corner. He wasn't frightened and he wasn't resistant. He was watching the children, observing, taking it all in. In fact, several times he did participate, in his own unique way. And he was clearly enjoying himself.

Still, it's painful to realize that this isn't the picture of typical childhood shyness or fear; this is autism...and I'm just going to have to learn to be okay with that.