The kids in this photo are doing parallel play, which is a normal stage of development starting at two or three years old. As they get older, they will be going into other stages of more interactive play.
Apparently, with my autism, I’m still a kid at heart.
Through my teen years, I saw no reason to interact. Fortunately, I have a sister, so I was forced into it, and must admit, I liked it sometimes.
At one point in our childhood we lived beside a lake. Normally, I would wade in the shallows watching and trying to catch minnows by myself. My mother had a metal washtub outside, which we normally didn’t notice, but it was going to see its demise that day.
My sister, being the instigator she is, had an exciting idea! We would use our pink sand pails to put water in the washtub and fill it with blood suckers (leeches). This went on for hours. What fun!
Mum yelled, “Lunchtime!” Then it was nap time then play then have supper. The blood suckers hadn’t entered my mind.
The next day, we heard suddenly heard a yell. “You two get out here right now,” Mum said. We walked to where she was standing, hands on hips. She said, “You ruined my washtub!”
The washtub was in the hot sun, dry with blood suckers crusted to the sides and bottom. Fascinating.
My sister looked up at me, and I felt something I had not before: a feeling of complicity. We had gotten in trouble together–a feeling of togetherness. Mum quickly interrupted that feeling by telling us to clean it. The blood suckers weren’t so cute anymore.
I felt that feeling of complicity and togetherness the rest of my life even though I still primarily played by myself.
As an autistic adult, I feel a strong feeling of togetherness with my hubby. I’m content and secure if he’s in the house or yard. I don’t need to see or say anything to him for hours. Yet, when he goes out of town, I feel horribly lonely.
Similarly, toddlers are happy when a parent is around even if they are not interacting, and they are scared if they can’t find their parent.
So, if you have a child or spouse with autism, you are interacting and being loved just by your presence.