Making friends as an autistic toddler

My daughter made a new friend!  Well, more accurately, my husband and I made new friends who also have a 2-year old daughter.  We went to their house over the weekend and by the end, their daughter declared our daughter her friend.  She also gave her hugs and comforted her when she cried.  It was adorable.

It made me quite a bit sad because my daughter doesn’t comfort people, or give hugs to other kids, or have the language or understanding to declare someone else her friend.  But, she did interact with the other girl so I guess I should take that as a good sign.  The awkward part for me was that the parents were also new friends.  The challenge is: at what point do I mention the ASD?  I fear that if I don’t mention it, people will notice that my kid is different and maybe think I’m a bad parent.  If I do, we may lose out on opportunities for play dates because other parents, consciously or subconsciously, don’t think our daughter will be a good playmate.  Also, the ASD diagnosis and therapies are a huge part of our lives as parents that we want to talk to other parents about.

In the end I mentioned it to explain my daughter’s behavior and lack of language when I felt it was noticeable to the other parents.  As it turned out, they had not noticed and would not have guessed.  They seemed a bit surprised that she has an official diagnosis at such a young age, probably in part because her symptoms aren’t that obvious, apart for the speech delay.  She stims, she has restricted interests and sensory issues, and gets mad if things aren’t in their proper places.  But none of that is particularly obvious at first glance.  Autism really is an invisible condition in many ways.

Thankfully, our new friends did not seem to care at all about the ASD label, and would like the girls to play together again.  Hooray for new friends!

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