Saturday, January 8, 2011

Yes, you HAVE to go out with your friends!

Have you ever had a conversation with your child, and thought, "I can't believe we're having this conversation!"?  I'm not talking about the difficult conversations (death, sex, evil in the world), I'm talking about the interactions where you say to yourself, "WHAT the HECK are they THINKING??"  There's nothing ugly going on here, just some typical Asperger's interactions with our son.  Some days we joke about living down the rabbit hole, because conversations can get kind of strange in Asperger's Land.

Here's the back story:  our son (I've got to invent a nickname for him for this blog - it feels funny calling him "our son" so formally) has been asking for a cell phone for a couple years now.  He's fascinated by them. We  told him that he could get one some time after he turned 12, and he's been stuck on that idea ever since.  We postponed the purchase until after the holidays, which he took with reluctant but reasonably good grace.  For the past couple weeks, he's been fixated on the idea, and he knew that we'd consider doing it after the first payday of the month.  That was yesterday.  He has talked about it every day since New Year's, asked all sorts of questions, and perseverated on what ring tones he could download, and who he could call, and who might call him.  Last night my husband took our son out and purchased a tracphone for him and one for me.  Oh, the excitement and anticipation!  Oh, the anxiety leading up to the outing!  Oh the drama over having to finish his homework before they could go out!  When the purchase finally happened, it was as good as Christmas for our son, who seems to view having a cell phone as a badge of growing up.  Then he couldn't sleep until his father had charged the phone, activated it, and helped him work out how to make calls.  It was a late bedtime.  It couldn't come soon enough for his father and I, lol!

More back story:  Our son has great difficulty calling up friends to get together with them.  He's afraid they'll tell him no, go away.  He's been like this from his earliest years, when he wouldn't even go next door and ask his neighbor friend to play - ringing the doorbell and waiting was anathema to him, and we'd have to walk him over and practically lead him up onto the porch before he'd do it.  Never mind that our neighbors were wonderful, and his friend was very nice and liked to play with him.  It was an ordeal for our son and for us.  Nothing much has changed over the past 7 years, only now he doesn't like to call people OR go to their houses unanticipated.  Then, he complains that, "No one wants to play with me!  No one ever calls me!  I don't have any friends!"  Grrrr!  However, he really does have a few good friends from Scouts and school.  Today one of them called and invited him to go to the Y for family/youth night, for basketball and swimming.  When his friend's mother called (his friend C also has AS and is a reluctant caller), we brought the idea up to our son, who promptly got upset and said, "NO!!  I don't want to go!  I just got my phone!"  We suggested he really should go, and he resisted even more, and got more upset.
"OFF WITH HER HEAD!" screamed the Queen of Hearts.

What the heck?  He told us he can't play because he wants to stay home and twiddle with his phone?  Um, no, that's not going to fly.  We asked his friend's mom to call back in a few minutes while we told our son why we thought he should take his friend C up on this fun opportunity.  Thankfully, she understood completely - she's living the AS thing too.  We told our son that  he really had to go with his friend, because it was a fun thing he enjoyed last time, and if he didn't make an effort to get out with friends, they'd stop calling him.  He calmed a little when he could see we weren't going to back down.  His friend called back a few minutes later (I can imagine his mother having a mirror conversation with C through his AS about why he should call his friend himself. . . . ).  We had our son answer the phone (I love caller ID), his friend asked him to go out to the Y, and our son said, "Sure, I'd like that!"  And just like that, everything was okay again.  After we spent 5 minutes telling our son over his protests, "Yes, you have to go out with your friends!"

Aaarrggghhh!!   Sometimes the simplest things are the biggest hassles when dealing with Asperger's.  Sheesh.

So, they're out right now, hopefully having fun and getting tired out in a good way.  I don't think this is the last time we'll be having a conversation like that, though.  Which side of the mushroom should I try next time?