We're excited to introduce a new blog segment from two middle school students! Both students are entering 8th grade this month and participate in an inclusive setting, using alternative communication methods. This dynamic team decided this summer they very much wanted to co-blog about their school experiences, allowing a glimpse into both a female and male perspective into the major issues that impact their school lives. As the nation heads back to school, we're thrilled to present this blog from Ashna & William, The View from Here.
The View from Here - Friendship
Friendship is hard. Did autism make it hard or is it hard for so many different reasons? Can’t catch what now seems very simple for teens. The kids in my grade miss out on my friendship because they can’t stop talking long enough to let me try to finish typing a sentence. People think autistics are constantly turning inward and are self absorbed. Have they never met a teenager? Maybe these self absorbed kids are the autistic ones. Just kidding. More than one potential boyfriend has heard me singing crazily and found it far too maddening to even consider a conversation, let alone a date.
All jokes aside, being a nonspeaking autistic girl makes friends hard to come by. Most middle schoolers see me as some little lame puppy who needs help not friendship. Girls sing back the dumb songs i can’t stop stimming , never once asking me anything. They don’t have a clue who i really am, but go away feeling good because they are my “friends.”
In the month leading up to summer my mom convinced me to try the friendship thing with one of my letterboarder pal’s sisters. She believed in me and took her time getting real communication training so i trusted her starting to be my voice. This summer belongs in the coolest experiences I’ve had book. We go to the pool, the mall, out to lunch. We binge watch The Office on Netflix. We’re very much teenage girls. We’re friends.
As i head back to eighth grade I’m trying to break the cycle of bad “friendships” and work to develop true friends. This friendship thing is hard, but now I’m aware how worth it it can be. Guys, look out. First a friend and next a boyfriend!
Where do I begin? The thought of being one of those kids that learns how to take on new friends like it is as easy as breathing blows me away. I have many people in my life who love me just the way I am. Covering ulterior motives is very hard for someone my age. I often find myself with kids who are very nice, but I can tell they act that way not because they see me as a potential friend, but because it is polite.
Here is the problem at my school and probably others. The majority of my peers aren't ready to love me on the same level as the typicals. To love someone only as they truly are takes a lot of social bravery. I love my school but so many take the easy route and merely smile at me. This means they miss the potential to make one of the best friends they might ever have. Be brave. It is worth it.
Ashna is an eighth grader in Maryland who cares about doing good talking points for autism and rapid prompting method.
William is a fourteen year old guy who communicates by spelling and is about to navigate the second year of mainstreamed education.