Here is a message we received from Chantel Miskin, the mother of one of our group attendees, posted here with permission.
Through our autism journey, and especially since secondary school transition, we have “lost” a lot of the people around us: people who don’t understand that James isn’t going to act or “grow up” as his friends from school, people who don’t see James as having a disability but rather as someone who has no rules applied to him and his “different” behaviours because social norms don’t apply to James or the way he sees the world.
We have had times of complete isolation as individuals and as a family, times where we haven’t seen or spoken to other people for weeks because James’ anxiety has meant he hasn’t been able to meet people in or out of the house. We’ve lost contact with friends and family because we choose to put James’s needs first; we choose to let James express himself and do the things he requires to be happy within himself rather than to force him to follow the rules of social acceptance.
The most difficult thing about this journey for us though has been the isolation. I was worried it would never end, that not only would James be left with no peers to play with, talk to or learn from, but that we all as a family would be alone… Until we found AIM.
We’ve found in this group an amazing bunch of kids among whom James can be himself with no fear of judgement for his “weird” behaviours because in this group he is not weird, he is just James. For me and Tom there is a group of amazing adults to learn from and share concerns with, again with no fear of judgement.
Last night was great a meal out with no kids, and James was happy for us to go because of who we were going with. I didn’t even get a phone call to check I hadn’t crashed the car or died on the way there!
Many thanks to everyone in the group for the great advice and acceptance.