A Story of Friendship Made Stronger by Autism
School can be one of the most difficult challenges children and teens face. From physical changes to social and emotional development, it can be tiring for any child and his or her family. Not to mention all of the learning and homework!
Any roadblock in development makes school that much harder for a child of any age. Children often react to the unfamiliar in a negative way and, for most children, the autism spectrum is full of unknowns. When children notice that someone is different, it's an unfortunate reality that bullying may result.
But not every childhood friendship needs to be faced with negativity. One of the greatest treasures in life is a friendship that blossoms from a young age and continues to grow through adolescence and into adulthood.
With that in mind, we present a genuine story of friendship.
This is the story of two boys who met and befriended one another in the sixth grade, forming a strong bond which will endure through high school and beyond. Their friendship serves as powerful inspiration for any parents of children on the spectrum, those who are concerned about their child's future in terms of connecting with others.
Photo credit: Chicago Tribune
This is the story of two boys. In the sixth grade they met and befriended each other. They formed a strong bond of friendship. For any parents of children with autism, friendship serves as a powerful inspiration.
Mason Kalnins is on the spectrum. Compared to an average child on the spectrum he is higher functioning but with social situation and communication he struggles because of which he had developed some quirky habits. Doctors had predicted that he would not be able to talk or walk. Hence it was quite acceptable to have quirky habits. But in school he did not make friends easily so, it was quite alone when he ate lunch.
Another sixth grader was Ian Ryan and he was preparing to have lunch one day near the beginning of sixth grade when he saw that Mason was sitting alone. He did not like that and so sat with him and quickly they became friends.
He noticed the particular eating habits that mason had. For a while he thought that mason must be starving. Ian from a young age learnt about the importance of proper nutrition since he had type 1 diabetes and noticed that his friend was not having healthy eating habits. Since he was concerned about him so he told his mother about the eating habits of Mason. She decided of talking to Mason’s mother. Ian’s efforts were appreciated by Mason’s mother and he was invited over to Mason’s place and she explained about autism.
From then on Ian and mason became best friends. From sixth to eighth grade they sat together for lunch. They would have fun together at the lunch table although it was thought that Ian being friends with a person on the spectrum would be unusual but they became best friends.
For majority of the activities they extended their friendship. Without Ian’s influence, Mason never joined a team but in high school since he wanted to play sports with his friend he joined cross country team. Ian and Mason in physical activities found a camaraderie even though they did not enjoy the same sports.
Mason’s mother was grateful to Ian for getting his son into sports. He also helped Mason to come out of his comfort zone and this has helped him to expand his horizons. Also in Ian’s life Mason has extended large amount of support and help and has been a positive influence. The friendship was not only limited to the two boys but also till the families.
Recently they graduated from Oak Forest High School. By their friendship even principal was impressed. According to research, both partners can enjoy long term benefits if there is a strong, genuine relationship between them. This has been agreed by both the boy’s parents.
To attend a party Mason has to step outside his comfort zone. For Ian’s graduation party he chose to do this. Mason got the advice from his best friend to make lots of friends and a few weeks later Mason gave the same advice to Ian. They stepped in the real world with an aim but maintaining friendship in their heart. Both were asked to define what a good friend is all about. Ian said that friendship is all about accepting each other, being supportive and looking beyond differences. Mason said that said the definition of a good friend is Ian.