Most of the time it doesn't bother me that Jacob has Autism and is different from other kids. He's a little boy who has a big heart and loves life. His joy and excitement over the littlest things in life is contagious to all who come in contact with him.
But then there are times that I watch him and see the other side. Out in the playground at lunchtime or after school when the other kids are running around playing and interacting, he is lost. He doesn't know how to 'play' with other kids. He is perfectly happy to interact with other kids when there are only a couple, or in a structured setting but out in the playground it's too hard for him. He stays by my side and clings onto me. It's not shyness, he just doesn't understand how to 'play'.
Last year I walked past his school at lunchtime a few times and Jacob was sitting down the bottom with the teacher and teacher aide, drawing, while the other kids ran around playing. I think the noise and energy of the boys in his class overwhelm him most of the time. I guess it can be tricky to play when you can't understand all the social 'rules' and expectations. When he does play with other kids outside, he is more inclined to play with the girls who are quieter and more understanding of his gentle nature.
While I know that being like this doesn't bother Jacob and that he is perfectly happy in his own little world, I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness. I feel like he gets left out of so many things, particularly friendship groups. I'm glad we've chosen a Steiner School for him. There's a wonderful atmosphere of 'togetherness' and acceptance of each other that has been fostered in the kids. The kids understand Jacob's eccentricities and like to point out any steam train things to Jacob because they know that's what he likes. But that doesn't really help when they are out in the playground and Jacob doesn't want to join in. It's hard to include someone when they don't want to be included.
I often look to the future and wonder what it holds for Jacob. Will he make friends? Will he find someone to love? Will someone love him and understand him? Will he be lonely? I know lots of others parents have these fears for their kids too but Jacob's autism makes things so much more uncertain. As long as Jacob is happy, I know I should be too. But it's hard to think like this when your heart is telling you something differently.
I just hope he knows that the love of his family is always unconditional.