AAM Guest Post: Here's Looking at You Kid


I'm pleased to have Frances Lehning guest posting today - watch later in the month for another piece from Frances too!

A bit about Frances:
Frances Lehning is a married mother of three children living in the northwest suburbs outside of Chicago, Illinois.  Her twelve-year-old son Sean was diagnosed with Autism at the end of 1st grade.  Frances also has two daughters – 11 year-old Carissa and 5 year-old Ashley.  She is the author of the blog, My Name Is Not Autism, at www.mynameisnotautism.blogspot.com.  In her posts she writes candidly of the triumphs and challenges, as well as her own internal struggles, as she helps her son navigate his world.

Here’s Looking At You, Kid…

My twelve-year-old, autistic son Sean walked in the door yesterday and said something that frightened me to my very core….

He came in talking about girls.


Nothing good can come from this newfound fascination.  I can only speak for myself, but in seventh and eighth grade I remember the humiliation, the heartache, the tears. 

Considering I met my husband in 7th grade, I cannot honestly say that the memories are more bad than good but the bad were really, really bad.  I’m still scarred!

I can jump ahead and spend sleepless nights wondering how I’m going to protect my son’s heart from the fickleness of a 12 or 13 year-old female, but we have more pressing details to attend to first.

Sean has almost no eye contact.  Seriously.   I’m not sure if a girl said “Hi” to him that he would be able to pick her out of a line-up of two, let alone an entire junior high filled with them.

The girl he has set his eyes on (pun intended) is a classmate from when he was in 2nd grade and still attending his home school.  Sean claims she was his girlfriend but I think it was more like he was totally in love with her and she barely knew he existed.

Experiencing unrequited love at age 7…  It’s a cruel, cruel world out there!

I have to give him credit, though.  Sean has a plan.  He has started asking his classmates if they know her and what classes, if any, they have with her.  He wants to figure out her schedule, map it out, and then conveniently “intercept” her during passing period.

At first I found that strangely stalker-ish, but then again, isn’t that something that we all do?  You see the cute guy at Starbucks on Mondays at 8:10 am and you plan all your future Monday mornings hoping for the “intercept”….

My guy friends thought it was cute.  I am sure if I weren’t his mom, I would think so as well.

At the very least, it has him talking with other kids and discussing what any typical adolescent male talks about – girls!

How will he recognize her in a sea of faces streaming quickly past him on their way to their classes?  He can’t even look into the faces of his two blonde aunts to know the difference between them.  If he meets her in a group, since he doesn’t maintain any eye contact, how will she know that he’s talking to her or connecting with her and not some other girl in the group?

Eventually, Sean will have to start practicing looking at faces and noticing features.  He’s a good-looking kid.  Smart, funny, polite… a great little catch for any 7th grade girl.  Being autistic only adds to his quirky charm.

And since he can’t hold a secret from me even if he wanted to, I’ll never have to worry about him sneaking kisses behind the bleachers!  Thank you Autism!!!