August 28, 2013

"Mom, I made three friends"

The word every mom wants to hear is friends, the same word I did not hear often from Alex as she was growing up. Her siblings were always doing something with friends, many times I had to sub as Alex's friend.

Sure Alex had a social life, but not to the extent her siblings did. She went to the prom, but not the before or after parties. Alex went to the basketball games and hung out with the other students, but she was not invited to the sleepovers. She was acutely aware of this, so we spent a lot of time together, doing special things to make up for the hurt Alex felt over and over again.

This solitude did not happen when Alex was young, she was included in birthday parties and other activities, but slowly evolved as her peers hit puberty and then high school. I do not think this was malicious on any one's part - merely part of the growing up process. Even when the school implemented peer groups, the high school girls would not commit for more than a semester. As an aside, if more schools embraced the idea of inclusive classrooms, these friendships would form naturally and peer groups would not have to exist.

Alex does have friends and many more acquaintances, but she does not have the kinds of friendships I enjoyed growing up and still enjoy. She has yet to have a deeply connected friendship, a girlfriend(s) you can tell everything to, a sister.
Alex's going away party
As shared in my college post, one of the many things I have hoped for Alex at college is to make those friends. For Alex, a person with a developmental disabilities this does not happen quite as naturally as I would hope. She needs a little prodding, a little loneliness, a little subtly manipulated social situations and a lot of opportunity.

A little over two hours ago my phone rang and I could tell in the first few words that the perfect storm had arrived.

"Mom, I have some exciting news, I have three news friends H, M and A. We are going to be best friends". Do I care that these students are in a college program for people with developmental disabilities? Not a bit. I only care that my daughter can experience friendships just like me, just like her peers and just like her siblings.

If you have not liked our page, it is a good way to stay on top of the ups and downs of college for a person with a development/intellectual disability. I have no idea what is going to happen....but I  will share the good and the bad. Please click on "The Ordinary Life of an Extraordinary Girl" now.


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