My eldest son, Ben, is going into middle school next year. While this would normally be cause for excitement, nerves, and discussions about how to keep organized while having to get from class to class without being late.
Now, we're trying to prepare him for people.
See, my kid has autism. And the people I know whose children ALSO have autism have small ones. Their kids are navigating speech therapy and sign language. I'm trying to teach the kid how to express emotions and read people so that he can properly fit in.
Now here's the point where I have to say this: I think my kid is great the way he is. I love different people, the way they act, and learning how others thing. To me, being different is a great thing. For him, it's social suicide.
The Junior High years are the worst (in my opinion) of them all. A mess of kids, all in various stages of puberty, trying to claw to the top of the social pile, squashing everyone below them to get there.
I wonder how it will be for him.
Will he care if he has no best friends? Will he truly learn how different he is? Will anyone eat lunch with him? Will he be okay?
These are questions I have no good answers to.
So instead, I will try my best to explain that, as he well knows, sometimes people are jerks. And that being a jerk is THEIR problem, not his. Because for all that he does understand, the way that others behave is foreign and strange.
Next year, he will be a stranger in a strange land. I only hope we've done enough to prepare him.