"Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold". Oh, how I loved this song at Girl Scout meetings and camps!
Many years later, I learned about the challenges of making and keeping friends when you are raising a significantly disabled child.
In most situations, you can't have good friends without being a good friend.
Being a friend comes with responsibilities that often exceed the capabilities of families like ours.
I grew farther and farther away from friends because I couldn't talk on the phone, visit them in the hospital, deliver a covered dish, attend reunions or watch their dog or cat.
Some days, working and caring for Lauren didn't leave much time for sleep or anything else.
"Friendly" acquaintances were made at Special Olympics, dance class or adapted baseball events.
As soon as the season or program was over...families moved on to solve or attempt to solve their own problems.
Most friends and colleagues raising "typical children" had no idea regarding our struggles.
Over time, many parents of children with autism stop explaining the day to day struggles and slowly shy away from conversations with friends and colleagues that center around "my son is doing so well in school", "John just got into medical school", "Jennifer just got a new job" or "my daughter is getting married".
So how do parents of children with autism make new friends and keep the old?
Do we need a new song about friendship?
Keeping it real!