Joshua is both loving and lovable, but he has not really made real friends in the way that I understand friendship. In both his school and respite settings, he tends to interact more with the staff than with the children and he is very affectionate towards them. Yet he is now more aware of his peers, than he was as a small child, if mainly to admire a pretty girl with long straight hair! That being said, he has often had in his life, a female peer who has taken care of him. This relationship began when he went to a toddler group, and there was a girl there who would look out for him, chub his rosy cheeks and would fetch things for him. She was the first child that he ever spontaneously spoke to  : we entered toddler group after lunch, and I had not wiped his mouth after his spaghetti hoops on toast. He burst into the village hall and ran up to his confidante and said ” Look at my face!” and I wept with joy, it was an amazing moment that I will never forget.

Then at primary school, he also attracted a different, equally petite friend, and the difference in their sizes was dramatic. She would hang out with him at school and she came to our house for tea and one time we even took her to the cinema with us. But that friendship ended when Joshua left mainstream primary school to move to his first special school. There I made friends with several Mums, so Joshua met up with peers outside of school, but he did not attract a protecter there. But he did at his second, and current, special school. Again another pretty girl began to look out for him and she was especially attentive when he had seizures in class and he would thank her with one of his high 5s or a smile. At one stage, I kept hearing that Joshua had a new friend, that they would spend time sitting together at school and they were treated as a pair. However, when I saw them together, I knew that it was a one-sided friendship, that the boy was forever inviting Joshua to give him a high-5, but it was not reciprocated and Joshua would hardly engage with this child. They were both in wheelchairs together at the time, but beyond that, they had nothing more in common. In my experience, the best friendships are balanced, there is no one giver or taker, but it is equal.

Perhaps he has made friends along the way and I should not judge his relationships by my standards. I want to be able to confide in and talk to my friends, but this is not going to be what he is looking for. I enjoy reminiscing and sharing with my friends and buying them surprise gifts,  but this will be beyond Joshua. He is affectionate and generous with his hugs, but more with adult care-givers than with his peers, he must sense that such behaviour might not be welcome there. I hope in his adult life that Joshua will go on to develop friendships so that he has some support outside of his family too. My friendships are so important to me and I do not want him to miss out on the love and support that a best friend can bring to your life.

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