Aspergers Meets Middle School

Last night was one of those nights when I was reminded that Trio Man is in that awkward spot between special needs and typical. Or perhaps, more accurately, in that small group of kids who are a little special needs, a little typical, gifted enough to be awkward, and in middle school.

Already isolated by Aspergers. Already isolated by giftedness. And then there’s the middle school scene.

It was one of those nights that I just wanted to hold him all night and protect him for the rest of eternity.

You see, things didn’t go as planned. Well, not as he had planned. And Trio Man plans everything in his head.

It was the Christmas party for the church youth group (which, as he would point out, is not technically a “youth group,” but that’s the most widely known way to explain the kind of group that’s he is in at our large church).

Trio Man thought that they were going to eat and socialize all night. Instead, they socialized for a while and then started playing games. I don’t know what kind of games. It doesn’t really matter. Because in his mind, playing games was not in the plan.

And it was noisy.

And they were not in their usual small groups.

And no one was as excited as he was about the Family Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies that he brought to the party.

They really are the best chocolate chip cookies, and Trio Man wanted everyone to enjoy them as much as he does. I made a double batch. Only 5 cookies were eaten at the party, and three of them were eaten by him! His feelings were hurt.

He called, and I picked him up early.

His feelings were complicated. “Nothing goes as I plan! Not my birthday party. Not my¬†gaming party. Not tonight. I really want everything to go as I plan.”

“And I really haven’t told anyone this, but the kids are bullies.” Which kids? The kids in youth group.

I don’t know if the kids really are bullies or are just typical middle schoolers trying to figure out “their group.” I have some investigating to do.

But I do understand how he feels. I remember how much peer pressure was in my youth group. It doesn’t seem right that there is jockeying for position and cliques and unkindness in a church gathering, but in reality it is just a normal part of life.

Sometimes we parents have to remember that. As much as I want to protect him, and as much as I want to be “gung-ho” about church, I understand that we Christians are as human as the next person.

But I did tell Trio Man that he doesn’t have to go to youth group. Or, the next time that the youth group plans something that’s different from the weekly meeting, we can ask for more information about what’s planned for the evening so that Trio Man can align his plan with the group leaders’ plan.

And he can always plan to leave early.