Friendships for the older four kids just came along as they grew up. They chose their own friends and have made good choices. They were never kids who had lots and lots of friends, but the ones they chose were intelligent, well behaved, fun to be around kids who had boundaries and morals.
For our younger four kids having friends becomes much more complicated.The rules as a parent change. Do you say "no" to letting them be friends with someone who you know is going to get them into trouble? Do you let them be "friends" with that person and then deal with the trouble they get into when it happens? It has become a situation where some of each of these has occurred.
Allen has friends in that people in the community and at school acknowledge him and talk with him and given his disabilities that is what he wants and needs in friends.
Lauren has disabilities that are clearly visible to the world. She has friends that are much like those which the older kids have chosen. They include her without any adult intervention. These are people who do understand that everyone in the world is not the same and they are not scared away by Lauren`s differences. It is so nice to see that there are teenagers out there who really get it!!!
Hanna chooses "friends", as she calls them, very poorly. If there is a kid who is causing trouble that is her friend, if they are breaking the law that is her friend, if they are hurting other people they are her friends. These are kids who will sneak around and wait for just the right time then they find something stupid to do and they talk Hanna into doing it for them. She ALWAYS gets caught and then they are making fun of her and telling her that they are not her friends and they did not do anything wrong. Well they really are not her friends because they are hurting her and the saddest thing about it is that she will go back again and again to be hurt some more. She just does not understand that this is not what real friends do.
It is not clear how Paul will do with this, I have a feeling that this will be one of those things that will create problems for him given the fact that with his FAS he does not have very clear boundaries and he is pretty impulsive.
There is always something happening when it comes to parenting kids with special needs in our society. The adventure continues.