This year, unlike years past, we asked our twins to help create a guest list for their birthday party. M, our neurotypical guy, had a ready list of friends and classmates. In fact, he had more than we could reasonably accommodate.
C’s list, however, was decidedly shorter: “No one.” C is rarely so declarative, so we tried again a few more times, only to get the same response: “No one.”
We would ask around the question. “Do you have friends you like?” “Yes.” “Like who?” Names were offered. “Don't you want to invite them to your party?” “I don't.”
We know that C likes other children, even though he has yet to find meaningful ways to interact with them. But we also know he’s been having a lot of anxiety in group situations lately, retreating ever more into himself as the group grows in size.
We decided to respect his wish; we felt it was important for him to feel he was heard and his request honored. His birthday, after all, is his special day, not ours.
So we had a birthday party for the twins, and we invited friends — M’s friends. C, for his part, had a great time doing what he likes to do: running, laughing, jumping, rolling around. No pressure to socialize, no need to be there for someone else.
I hope that one day C will find it easier — and more pleasurable — to have friends. Until then, he will know that his wishes and needs matter, at least to us.