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.
God bless both of you.
You go boy -
Reminds ne of when my daughter used to say in a loud voice " dad why has that man have no hairs on his head"?