December 17, 2009
We sometimes make our friends in school, sometimes at work, church, or, as we get older, we may connect with the parents of our children’s friends. Lauren had peers that she spent her days with in school, but they never saw each other outside of the classroom. Still, I think she would have considered them her friends. And, then she left school at 21. Now at 24, she has no friends her own age or even close to it. Self-direction has allowed Lauren to build a life that works for her right now, except when it comes to friendship.
We all need friends, not acquaintances, not just familiar faces. We need those people who care if you’re sad, are there to share your joys, and choose you amongst all others to spend their time with. We need people who simply like us, not people who feel sorry for us. We need the special connection that only comes through friendship.
Lauren cannot reach out to people, can’t find commonalities to explore, and doesn’t appear to offer much to someone else. They’re wrong, but I understand that. So the people whose lives she crosses don’t become friends. The thing is... friendship only works when it occurs naturally. It can’t be forced. I berate myself for not doing more to “facilitate” Lauren’s ability to make friends. But really, that’s not how friendship grows.
I hope someday she will have people in her life besides family and those that are paid to take care of her. I just don’t know how to make that happen yet. Until then I try to make sure that at least one of her DSP’s is close in age to her. (We have Cori right now, who is 28.) So, at least for part of the day, she has an opportunity to be exposed to the music that Mom doesn’t get, has someone to tell Mom that I have to stop dressing her like she’s twelve, (but I thought that sweater was really cute!), and someone who understands why she thinks that guy on American Idol is really cute.