One of the greatest challenges my son deals with is making relationships with his same age peers, whether typical or special needs. While he is friendly with some of the neighbor kids and a few of his friends from school, having him make “real” friends is something my wife and I are still very much working on.
We were amazed at the blessing our son received when a close friend down the street called my wife in a panic to let her know that her special needs son had an accident on their play-set in the backyard, so they had to rush him to the emergency room. Expecting a long day and night at the hospital, the mom had asked us if we could take her other son, the typical brother, to stay with us and possibly spend the night. My wife hurriedly said, “Yes” and within several minutes came the young boy, complete with an overnight bag. We prepared for what would turn out to be our son’s first sleepover.
Now hosting this type of a sleepover is a slightly different endeavor than those of typical kids, since our son is used to his standard routines of his favorite TV shows, iPad time, lots of eating and maybe some outside time before bed. Since our son can also not communicate verbally, it’s not always easy to figure out how he may want to interact with his friends.
Luckily, as we inquired with the boy, we discovered that many of his favorite things were things our son enjoyed as well! One of the first things I offered him was playing games on the Nintendo Wii, which is great for my son since he enjoys a lot of the sports games that I can give him an assist with. When we suggested some other movies or shows they could watch, they were also ones our son instantly gravitated towards. And, of course, dinner time was great for bonding, as we managed to get them both to sit down for a meal.
By the time we got to the nighttime stuff, our son went to his bed, but this time very excitedly and with a huge smile glued to his face. When my wife asked him through his iPad if he was glad his friend had come over, he confirmed with a hearty electronic “YES.”
The next morning we all got up, had breakfast, the boys watched a little TV together and we got ready for our usual Sunday routines. Our neighbor dropped by to pick her son up to go home. Confirmation that the night was a success, came later that day when the boy let his mom know he wanted to do it again!
We then realized that our willingness to bless someone else in turn blessed us in ways we couldn’t imagine just hours earlier. Comforting others in their moment of crisis allowed our son to be comforted with a gift of friendship, and a memory of his first sleepover, accidental or not, yet totally joyful.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV)
Written by John Felageller
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