A Boy, Girls and Young Love
Can a boy with autism find a girl that will pay attention to him?
When it comes to dealing with the opposite sex, my young son is quite plucky. Kai keeps trying, no matter how many setbacks he has had.
Kai’s first crush was in preschool.
His communications skills were only starting to develop back then. He was able to speak, but not yet able to put together full sentences. As his parents, we could usually tell what he was trying to communicate, but others had a harder time.
He really had a diffcult time talking with other children. He had trouble relating to other kids, and they often did not know what he was trying to say. An aide, or teacher would sometimes try to help him by modeling appropriate words that he might then repeat. But it’s not the same as speaking for yourself.
Ah, but when it comes to love, you don’t need words, do you?
It was readily apparent that Kai loved Ali, or at least, that he felt the five-year olds’ version of love.
He wanted to join in whatever activities she was doing. He would try to follow her around the play area. His face would light up every time he saw her.
But she mostly ignored him.
And why wouldn’t she? She had friends – kids that could talk and play and had things in common with her. Kai couldn’t provide any of that.
So it was destined to be an unrequited love.
But, he did have one moment.
The very last time they ever saw each other, during the end-of-school picnic, Kai finally got Ali to play with him. They took turns pushing each other around in a ride-on car. I never saw a bigger smile grace his face than he had that day.
The following fall, Kai started kindergarten at our neighborhood school. He quickly became fond of a couple of girls in his class. His communication skills were starting to develop, but he still could not interact with them like other kids could.
Like his preschool crush, these girls mostly ignored him. But they did speak with him once in awhile, sometimes to be friendly and sometimes to tease him. I don’t think he could tell the difference though. He just relished their attention whenever he got it.
Having to switch schools in the middle of his kindergarten year was hard for him, not the least of which was because he missed being able to see his “girlfriends.”
Kai now attends a therapeutic school, and the reality is that far fewer girls go to this school than boys. During first grade, his class consisted only of boys. And the same has been true in second grade. There have been no girls for him to pine over.
In recent weeks, two girls joined his class.
When we met with a therapist at his school who teaches once a week in his classroom, she told us what happened the first time she was teaching the class since one of the girls had started at school there.
As she was about to start the class, Kai excitedly raised his hand. The therapist called on him.
“Um, excuse me, Dr. G____. You have to introduce yourself to C_____.”
Kai was concerned that the new girl wouldn’t know the speaker, and he was looking out for her.
Ha, my son, the chivalrous young man.
It is amazing that he had any empathy at all, let alone being able to so forthrightly express his concern.
He has come a long way since preschool.
Hmm, I wonder if this girl will pay some attention to him.