Making friends

By Akha Khumalo

Dear readers,

Today I want to talk about making friends. I think many parents feel they need to put their autistic children in a school so they can socialise. Although this seems like a good idea it’s not how it works. Being around other kids doesn’t make you friends. Being near each other doesn’t build relationships. Because communication builds relationships, not proximity. My wonderful speech therapist Tracy noticed how lonely I was. I was surrounded by kids but I didn’t have one friend. In fact many of the kids were mean to me. Because I didn’t speak they thought I was stupid. They mocked me and called me names. Even when Tracy came in and I spoke to them on the boards, things didn’t change. I was then homeschooled for a while. Then I met Thabi. My whole life changed. I finally had a friend. Tracy facilitated conversations between us. I learned we liked the same TV programs. I have discovered we like similar food but I eat his tomatoes and he eats my crackers. We sit together and watch movies. He stood up for me when someone was unfair to me. I love him so much. There’s nothing quite like having a friend. I wish every autistic person could have one wonderful friend like mine.

Until next time,

Akha

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