In an essay posted on The Mighty, a website geared toward those with disabilities and their families, Zumbach Harken wrote about how this photo helped her learn about the way her son’s mind works, and how she found comfort in that. He might have been standing alone, but she knew he didn’t feel lonely.
Does anything look odd to you?
Possibly not – until you recognize that #39 spends 90 percent of his time not in “the group.” #39 is my son, Tucker.
This is through no fault of his coaches or teammates. It’s just how he is — rarely a part of the group.
Parents of children on the spectrum, hold your breath. Well, honestly – any parent, hold your breath. This post may make you cry.
In fifth grade, a researcher at a local university interviewed Tucker. The researcher, who was studying children with high-functioning autism, contacted me to see if I thought Tucker would be a good candidate. I replied with an emphatic yes. Tucker is his own best advocate; he’s an advocate for other children on the spectrum.
Since he’s a minor, I stayed for the interview. What a phenomenal experience — to hear your child accurately describe his difficulty with peer relationships is amazing and heartbreaking.
The researcher began by getting to know Tucker. About 15 minutes in he began asking the questions.
R: “Do you know other children with autism?
T: “Oh sure. A few kids at my school. But we’re all different. Do you know about the spectrum?”
R: “Yes, I know about the spectrum. So, are you friends with them?”
T: “Kind of. Sort of. I mean, I guess so. Not really. I know who they are, but they wouldn’t be overnight friends.”
R: “OK. How about other kids at your school? You’re really funny and seem like an awesome kid; I bet you have lots of friends.”
T: “No, I don’t.”
R: “Really? I’m sorry, Tucker; that surprises me. I thought you would have lots of friends. I’m really sorry that you feel you don’t have friends