So the kids had a good friend over tonight. Which is great, because all the kids get along with him and he's (of course) a little angel when he's at my house. He's 8 months younger than Gabe, but acts about as old as James. Way more mature than his age, mostly because he's the oldest of his mom's kids.
He and Gabe have pretty much been raised together, and I've babysat him and had him for weekends ever since he was a baby. Which, at this point, is really very bittersweet for me. He's not autistic, and Gabe is. Gabe still likes looking at books with lots of pictures, and he's reading chapter books. Gabe still wakes 2-3 times a night, and he's slept through since about 6mos old.
It's hard having him here. I enjoy it because he's a great kid and gets along with all the kids, but it hurts to see how different they are at basically the same age. He's everything I've always wanted for Gabe. He's articulate, affectionate, plays appropriately with toys and peers. He's working above grade level and can read. he does chores, he wants age appropriate things. All things that Gabe hasn't yet done, and may not ever do.
The worst part tonight was when it was bedtime. Gabe still sleeps on the couch a lot of nights. He has a real problem with sleeping upstairs alone in his bed. So he was trying to be brave enough to sleep upstairs, and wanted his little friend to sleep on the futon upstairs with him. But, his little friend had other ideas. He wanted to sleep on the other side of the loft, with James in his big queen sized bed. Poor Gabe just didn't understand that A didn't want him hanging all over him and being up and down all night. So his feelings were hurt, and he sat and cried for almost an hour on and off, saying A's name over and over. A explained that he still likes Gabe, and still wants to play and all, but that he just didn't want to sleep with him on the futon.
It didn't help, and as I'm typing this, Gabe is finally asleep. He sat and sniffed for a while, and every once in a while, he'd say A's name. He feels horrible, and so do I. He just doesn't understand the concept of personal space. And I work on that with him every day. It takes a looooong time for concepts like that to sink in and make sense for him. Gabe is still so much like a toddler. He goes by the same general rules they do, thinks the same way. He gets his feelings hurt so often by little things that kids his age understand and would get past quickly. Something as small as a misplaced toy can cause hours of whining and crying and sad looks. He seems to have no concept of whats truly fair to everyone. When it comes to games and toys it's all mine mine mine. He's been getting better at taking turns and trying to share. Really he's at about a 4yo level in some areas, but about 2-3yo level in others. It also depends on the day, he has his good days and bad.
I guess I'm just down because I see so many things that Gabe may never do. He has so much potential. He's learned a lot, and has so far to go. I mourn for the things that he may never do, and rejoice for the little things that he accomplishes. I guess I need to find more things to rejoice about.