Stories of Kindness from Around the World

How to Make a Friend

--by shannonj, posted Dec 9, 2008

My son Wynn has autism. As a result, his social skills are stunted. Neverless, he still longs for friendship and human kinship even though he rarely knows how to properly initiate conversations. When he was 7 or 8, he went through a phase where he would approach strangers with survey-type questions such as: "Excuse me, Sir. Are you married or are you happy?" or "Excuse me, Lady. Have you always been so old?" or, my personal favorite, "Excuse me, Girl. How did you grow up to be a fat woman?" As you can imagine, he didn't make many friends for either one of us, and I spent a lot of time apologizing and feeling embarrassed (though I have to say, his questions were actually quite relevant). 

When Wynn was 10, he entered the phase of being totally enamored with men who had facial hair. In his attempt to interact with his subject of interest, he would approach each man in need of a shave with the phrase, "My mom really likes your beard." He would then proceed to shove me and my glowing red face in the direction of his new acquaintance. Thanks to Wynn, I have flirted with a lot of five o'clock shadows in my time....

Currently, at age 12, Wynn has become much more direct in his social encounters with others. He is methodical and to the point as he follows this simple two-step formula: first give the person a compliment, and then ask the person a short, personal question. More specifically, he bluntly would say, "I like you. Why are you so weird?" No matter your age, color, or size, he would use the same two-step formula to greet all those he meets. "I like you. Why are you so weird?" are his classic lines. It is amazing to see how effective such a transparent approach has proven to be. I have watched countless people who were taken off guard, become completely real in just a matter of seconds. Usually, the individual of interest would laugh at first and then subsequently explain their particular "weirdness."

It is rather humbling to be a witness to such confessions and yet it is also heartwarming to see the walls between two human beings come down as the bond between a young child and an adult unfolds. Now, my son with autism has many, many friends. I have now learned from him exactly how to make a true friend.

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Readers Comments

Enzo wrote: Thanks all! We texans are dealing for now. Not snyaig there aren't some that waited too long but that's gonna happen no matter what. I bugged to my folks 7 miles away, the cats are semi-settled in a guest room. (hey, there was more food here and gives me a great reason to drink myself silly in front of my parents lol! )as someone w/new orleans in my heart even if tx is my home (for now), your wishes and prayers and candles are very very appreciated. (it's about time we take one for y'all! :))blessings! Elspeth
helpinghand wrote: Great story. Thanks for sharing.

God bless both of you.
praveendm wrote: Speaqchless. God bless you and all the families the whole world around!
bubble7gum wrote: I think that it's great that its still okay for people to be so straight-forward, especially when sometmes now, kids can be repremanded for it. Thanks for sharing! :)
Doodelbuns wrote: Makes you look at wierd in a 'new way'
You go boy -
Neicey wrote: Oh - lovely story
dj g wrote: God bless both of you , i love the way you you told the story :)
irongrace wrote: I love this your son tells the truth. Not many people can say they tell the truth to people.
rita wrote: I think it is great. People of all ages aren't very real these days. I believe people like to hear the truth, however "in your face" it may be. Good for him. Just remember,there is a fine line between rudeness and outspoken. Too bad politicians couldn't speak this way!
james wrote: Great story - thanks for sharing.

Reminds ne of when my daughter used to say in a loud voice " dad why has that man have no hairs on his head"?

Best wishes

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