The most important Autism social network

The dinner table.

What? You were expecting some enlightening links to sites that you finally talk to people that would finally have all the answers you were looking for?

Now, don’t get me wrong.. the advice, support and stories that I do find among the internet’s social networks have been invaluable. I’ve learned so much.

However, the absolute best place to learn, to be entertained and to get real world experience is right at my supper table.

How Dinner Used to Be

For the longest time, Cameron would be a passing visitor to the dinner table. He’d take a bit and then run off to play, or stim, or just be by himself… then he’d return for another bite and be gone again.

Many in our family questioned whether it was wise to allow that, or just generally asked why it was that way… for us, we were just happy that he would eat. If it meant taking a little extra time for him to play, so be it.

As he got a little older, his speech developed and so did his social skills. He was in school, his little brother was talking and wanting someone to play with… soon, Cameron started to enjoy being at the table dinner table.

Dinner Time is Family Time

These days, dinner usually consists of my wife and I telling Cameron to stop repeating the same stories over and over again, or the new song he learned or something of that nature and to just eat… it’s a good problem to have.

We’re often told stories about the new video game they have at school, or a new story they were told, or a new movie he saw, or something funny that one of the other children said… none of it really seems to involve actual involvement with the other kids, just what they did.

But you know what? It’ll come.

It took this long for him to actually sit down and speak to us. We can wait a little longer.

And even if it never comes, even if he never does tell us about all the things he actually does with friends…. that’s ok too.

I learn far more from listening to him than I do from any resources online. I am entertained by him far more than I am from any videos or stories I read online.

I’ll never take these dinners for granted.

One day they will fade away into memory, as my boys get older and want to be elsewhere… and that’s ok also.

That’s the great thing about social networks. They grow, they shrink, they’re always changing.

But they’re always supportive, educational, sharing and most of all, they’re always there for you.

Before you leave, let me share with you what happened during the last social gathering around the dinner table. Enjoy.

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About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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4 Responses to The most important Autism social network

  1. Sharon November 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    So true Stuart. We had a similar breakthrough recently with our son sitting through an entire evening meal. He may not contribute a lot to the conversation but it’s a great opportunity for him to observe how we talk and interact with his older sister. Inevitably he finds some way to become the centre of attention 🙂

  2. Tarasview November 8, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    that’s awesome 🙂

    My son despises sitting at the dinner table. He always has. He will sit with us for a bit but since he pretty much hates food he just sees no point in sitting at the table and so then he just goes nuts.

    My husband perseveres though. Which is good because honestly? if it was up to me I think I would rather let him eat wherever and whenever he wants to avoid the meltdowns and fights and freak outs.

    My son is 9 and we have two younger children and he takes his frustrations out on them and us and it is pretty much never an enjoyable time.

    Makes me sad actually.

    Hoping that someday it turns around though 🙂

  3. Tara Kaberry November 8, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Agreed. Dinner time is precious time to catch up and chat. Chatting not being our son’s forte either. I think he feels less overwhelmed by the conversation when he is doing something else like eating. He is also more inclined to talk if he is walking alongside me. Seeing your video really has inspired me to take more video. The years pass so quickly. 🙂

  4. Jim W. November 9, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Great video.

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