I’ve written before about Nigel’s quest for friendship and his need to be social. He has been fortunate to meet some patient and friendly NT kids through his involvement in Scouting. Continuing with the What It’s Like series, I wanted to highlight a couple of his friends and ask them a few questions. They are brothers; the older one is Nigel’s age, and the younger one is Aidan’s age. Here are their combined responses:
1) How long have you known Nigel? 3 years; 7 years
2) What have you heard or been told about autism? That just because they have autism doesn’t mean they are stupid. In fact, in some ways they can be smarter than normal.
3) What’s it like hanging out with Nigel? It’s always fun; awesome – he’s super smart.
4) What ways have you noticed Nigel acting differently? He gets up close to your face (not all the time).
5) When you’ve witnessed Nigel have what’s called a “meltdown” – become upset about something – how does that make you feel? It makes me feel sad; sad and guilty.
6) Have you ever witnessed other kids giving him a hard time or bothering him? Yes; yes, many times.
7) What’s the most difficult part about having an autistic friend? Getting him to understand; not to get frustrated with him when you want to say something and he keeps cutting you off.
8) What do you like about having an autistic friend? He’s super smart and has a great imagination – super fun to play with; it’s never boring!
9) Any advice you would like to mention for other kids who might meet someone with autism, or anything else you’d like to add? Be patient!
A big thank you to Nicholas and Tyler! I appreciate your time in answering my questions, but I appreciate you so much more for being such good friends to Nigel (and Aidan). Our family is very fortunate to know yours. Also, many thanks to your mom, Cheryl, for facilitating the interview. You guys are the best!