I didn’t set out to spend $1000 on my son’s birthday. It just happened.
Giovanni, eight, struggles to make friends at school and I am devastated for him. Knowing that my little boy sits on a seat on his own, eating his lunch, wanting to play but not knowing how to reach out or how to navigate play with others is heartbreaking.
Sometimes he is asked to play and tries to but the end the result is always the same. He removes himself from play and chooses to be on his own. He’ll often make use of the school “passive play area” where children play with equipment next to each other, but not together.
Giovanni has told me he wants friends. He tries to play but it doesn’t come easily to him.
Giovanni is mildly autistic — enough to make everything a little more challenging for him. We have started Occupational Therapy in an effort to help him navigate the world around him with a little less less anxiety. We’re only two weeks into the school year and he’s doing so well. I’m so proud of him.
And yet I know that all he wants is to be the same as all the other kids at school who burst out of their classrooms and gather in little groups, playing and laughing and having fun. They eat as fast as they can before dashing off to play handball or tip.
Giovanni eats slowly, trying to look busy because the thought of playing is so overwhelming to him.
When Giovanni was in Kindergarten and then Year One, I made sure to invite all the boys in his class to his birthday parties. Still he remained friendless at school and worse still, hardly received any birthday invitations in return.
This year, I’ve decided to do something a little different. We’ll have it at home where he is most comfortable. He’s been moved to a different class this year so this will be a perfect opportunity to get to know some of his new classmates.