Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dakota has a BFF!! (Best Friends Forever)

So, about three weeks after school started, I'm walking Dakota home from school and he says, "Me and my friend talked about it on the playground and decided we were going to be best friends." My heart races with hope as I ask, "What's your best friend's name?" He replies, "I don't remember." Okay, if you know Dakota, this is funny and not so funny, depending on how you look at it. -I prefer to be amused.

For those who don't know, Dakota is on the Autism Spectrum. His official diagnosis is Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS for short), an alphabet soup diagnosis which sounds really scary but basically means his brain doesn't work quite the same way most people's do. Among other things, remembering names and faces is really not his strong suit. Ask him about the Goosebumps books he's read, though (which is every single one available at both the school and city library), and he can tell you every plot line in mind-numbing detail.

Anyway, a week or so later, I get a call from the school speech therapist who has Dakota and this other boy in her social skills group. She wanted to let me know about this budding friendship so I could possibly facilitate get-togethers outside of school time. At last, I have a name! Nathan! -I love him already. This is the first friend Dakota's had since Kindergarten that he's made all on his own. Most of his other friends pre-date kindergarten or are his friends because their moms and I want to hang out together so we force the kids to hang out together, too. In the last couple weeks, Dakota has gone over to Nathan's house a couple times and Nathan has come over here a couple times. -I'm pretty sure Nathan is also somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. Dakota and Nathan hang out together on the playground and it is so wonderful for both of them that they have a new best friend in the other.

Fast forward to last Monday. Dakota comes home saying he's gotten an invitation to a birthday party. I think "Oh, wow! He wasn't invited to a single birthday party all last year. I wonder who it's from?" I say out loud, all nonchallant, "Whose birthday is it?" He says, "Aurora Pavlovich-Christiansen" or something equally long and difficult to remember. I'm really impressed and say, "Oh, is she in your class?" "Yes." Is she the blond girl who sits at the next group of desks from yours?" "I don't know who she is." Then, immediately moving on to the next topic, he says, "And my friend wants me to come over on Thursday after school because there is no school on Friday." Now I know he means Nathan. Who else could it be? But I have to ask anyway, "Which friend?" He says, "Um, I don't remember his name." -Once again, I prefer to be amused.

Thursday after school, Dakota did go over to Nathan's house to play until after dinner. About 7:30, Devin gets a phone call asking if Dakota can spend the night. Now, this is universe-shifting moment for us. Dakota has NEVER spent the night at a friend's house. Not once! And he's in fourth grade! Of course it's okay! I drove over to drop off pajamas and a toothbrush and he was on top of the world. He was so excited he was bursting with it! They had a really good time doing all those things boys typically do at a sleepover (eating extra dessert, staying up until past midnight, -probably terrorizing Nathan's parents) and is still tired and cranky two days later. Is it worth it? You bet it is!


Barb said...

Oh Ann ~ I know what a huge breakthrough this is for both Dakota and you and I'm thrilled for you both.

Dani said...

Hello, I am Danielle, I've noticed your friends with my Aunt Barb! I was reading this post and it made me SOO happy for Dakota!! I got excited for him! :-) Have a great day! Danielle