Miss Kate is not shy. It’s one of the most notable ways her autism makes her unique. We rarely venture into public that Kate does not strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Often, these strangers, are deemed Kate’s new best friend before we even make it back to our van.
These ‘best friends’ may come in the form of a baby she accosted in its stroller, a mom choosing ingredients for a meal none of her children will eat or, and more often than not, an older man browsing the diabetic candy.
We walk along the aisles and I answer her questions absent-mindedly, forever grateful that her service dog is keeping her near me, rather than chasing down the aforementioned baby. She asks things like:
“Mama, should we take turns saying sumfing nice about me?”
And I smile down at her and say:
“I love you, Kate.”
And she says:
“Yeah, me too.”
Her ego is strong, as you can see, which is probably why she never hesitates to engage with another person. It’s hard to say, and the older she gets the less comfortable I feel inferring how she feels, but it would seem that she assumes chatting with her is your privilege. And let’s face it, it quite often is.
She comes on strong; I’ve said it before, and it can be a turnoff to her peers, though the adults find it quite entertaining, at times.
Kate is an equal opportunity lover of people. She simply does not care if her friends are the people she meets out and about or the children in her class.
However, her somewhat aggressive approach has made it difficult for Kate to make meaningful connections with children her own age. I suppose I shoulder some of the blame because she's begun to call her peers her “fans” and her “subscribers”. Her social media presence has made her a little difficult to say the least.
So, I asked her, because I'm wondering how she relates to her classmates. I wonder how she attempts to make friends.
“Kate, how do you make friends?”
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)