Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Army of Friends: "The Rest of the Story"

Yesterday's post described a highly imaginative and creative birthday party, planned in great detail by Bantam 16, for himself. A great time was had by all and they're eager to plan something similar again.

What you may not have realized is that Bantam 16 is a young man with High-Functioning Autism. (Probably; his last official diagnosis was PDD-NOS.) He has always had speech and social issues that have made it difficult for him to have friends.

During his early homeschooled elementary-age years, I prayed regularly for just one good friend for him. Just one friend, I thought--that's all he needs. But he never clicked with any of the other boys in our circles.

Then in 4th grade, God brought the "one friend" into his life--a delightfully bright and quirky boy, who appreciated our son's gifts of imagination and creative play, and who introduced him to the world of Legos, computers games and fantasy literature. This boy has grown into one of our most favorite young men, and he is to be found regularly in our home, on his knees playing Legos with our younger sons, or asking Papa Rooster and I what we're reading or what we think of current events. He loves the Lord, and he loves to share with us the funniest jokes, songs, and websites!

Over time, God brought along more young men who took an interest in our son and genuinely like him. They like his creativity, his imagination, his writing, and his unusual interests. (A visit to his blog will give you a good idea of how he thinks.)

Since he was a little boy, he has had a highly creative ability to build a play scenario and draw other kids into it. In preschool for developmentally delayed kids, his specialty was the Restaurant game. The teachers were amazed at his creative use of the toys at hand and how he organized the other kids to play. Later, we noticed that his younger brother's friends loved to come to our house to play various war-and-weapon games which he designed. He would creatively costume everyone, lead them through a training program and outline the battle scenarios they would enact.

It's so interesting to see him now, as a young man, nearly, doing the same thing--and drawing other young nearly-men into his scenario to have the time of their lives. ("Are you sure your son really had a good time...He wasn't just humoring Bantam 16?" I asked a friend. "Oh gosh, no!" she replied.)

(In fact, one of those invited was an adult--actually a big kid at heart (in black, below)--who was just as drawn in as the boys. The night before, he told me he wouldn't miss the party for anything: "I've been to resale shops to get my outfit together, and ordered myself an Airsoft rifle..... I can't wait to be all over these kids!")

So I am grateful for the Army of Friends--for all these young (and not-so-young) men who celebrated Bantam 16's birthday with him. What an answer to prayer, what a battalion of blessing they are!

(Bantam 16 is on the far left with Bantam 11 in front of him in black; Bantam 7 is in the orange sleeves.)

And I am so thankful for the creativity, the inventiveness, the leadership qualities and the imagination of our son. Despite his weaknesses, these are real strengths which he has always compensated with. I wonder where they will take him in life? I wonder what kind of job, what field, he may end up in?

One thing is for sure: God made him "unusually unique," and He has worked wonders in his life already. I can't wait to see what He will do next!


mcewen said...

I love 'unusually unique' too. I hope my two turn out just as great.
Happy birthday.
Best wishes

blest said...

I keep thinking of having a group Asperger's/high functioning autism blog. (hubby won't let me yet - says I have enough websites/hobbies) If I ever do, I'm thinking it will have to be called something like "These kids are so COOL!" I wouldn't have mine (I think I have two of them, dontcha know) any other way!

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