I got a comment on my blog. I was going to answer it in the comments section, but I figured it's a question others may have. The question concerned my son's very successful birthday party. I'll copy the question here, and attempt to answer it. Keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I'm no expert, I'm just a mom.
"How wonderful! Yay for AJ and his friends!
Will you elaborate more for those of us who are still working/struggling on the social development front right along with you? What things made the biggest differences in his gaining friends? Are his peers neurotypical or are some of them also Aspies? How had he met them? Has his own attitude about being around people changed, and if so, did it happen before he began to make friends (thus inspiring him to work at it)?
Thank you for sharing your success!"
AJ is not particularly fond of people, but these home school kids are incredible. They keep trying with him. That was the most important piece. These kids are used to being around all different types/ages of people. They're used to AJ, and their parents have educated themselves and their kids about autism. Also, after a LOT of therapy, AJ is recovering from all that happened to him in public school. He is now getting brave enough to try to make friends. He is still VERY quirky, and a very "in your face" kind of kid. But, he has found kids that he kinda likes, and they like him too.
So, for us, the "secret" was home school. It was introducing him to kids that would accept him, and keep trying with him. Even when he wasn't ready, even when he wasn't nice to them. It was finding parents who would learn about autism, and teach their kids about why AJ was different (not less). AJ says that it was easier to make friends with hs because it was a smaller group, and not so overwhelming. It was more on his terms, not for 20 minutes during recess. It was the "perfect storm". And it was that AJ was willing to keep trying, to keep giving chances to the world, and to never accept "no" as an answer.
We've been lucky to find this group, and we've worked damn hard to create this luck. I wish I had a better answer. I wish I had the secret to help all our kids make friends. I wish I knew that this "friendly phase" would even continue for AJ. And I wish you luck making/helping it happen for yours.
BTW, some of AJ's friends are NT (most actually), and some of them are on the spectrum.
Thanks for the question. I love knowing that people are reading my blog. If there are more of you out there, drop me a line. I'm sure there's lots of you out there that would have a better answer to this question to help this mom.