Ask Andrew: Finding Your People

emotional intelligence 

By Andrew Patterson

Ask Andrew: Finding Your People

Today Andrew answers: My 14 year-old daughter with autism doesn’t get invited to things and gets mad at her 6 year-old sister because of jealousy, I think. What can I do to help her with this?

Hi! I’m Andrew from Generation Mindful's newest recurring weekly feature, Ask Andrew. In Ask Andrew, I’ll be taking any and all questions regarding the autism spectrum with particular emphasis on childhood development as an authentic autistic adult. Let’s get started!

For our seventh Q and A, you can watch the video and/or read my response below.

This question in particular hits home because I myself am an older sibling with a neurotypical younger sibling, who I’ll be referring to as Mabel. The age difference between the two of us wasn’t quite as vast (I was born in 1997 and my sister in 1998) but it did really affect my sense of self seeing Mabel seemingly thrive socially while I seemed to peter out.

To a certain extent I think this is still true. Mabel seems to be able to find her tribe wherever she goes in life, whereas mine took years and years to cultivate and keep. One of her best friends goes back as far as preschool, whereas the farthest one I can trace goes back to when I was seventeen. And the most recent one I made was when I was twenty. 

But ultimately judging oneself solely by the success of others is not a good way to live your life. A bit of comparison is healthy to motivate oneself, but too much will destroy your ego and potentially your relationships. Everyone has something priceless within them that another person would give anything to be, whether it be good at school, being good at sports, or just fitting in.

For your older child, I would stress the importance of empathy. I myself have struggled with a great deal of jealousy over the years, and it was not a good look on me at all. But it wasn’t Mabel’s fault I wasn’t invited to a lot of things. It was on my peers for not getting on the ground floor of Ask Andrew, and hurt feelings are not a blank check to act out hurtful actions. 

If it seems incredibly unfair that someone who is experiencing a great deal of loneliness because of other people’s choices can only control their own behavior, that’s because it is. As a result, I now recognize true friendships when they fall into my lap. And it made me a better person in the long run. As I am writing this, I am eagerly anticipating seeing Mabel again so we can go on a walk together and talk about how nuts our family is.

While it seems hard to accept now, I promise if your daughter puts herself out there she will find her people. I guarantee it.

Special thanks to my “Fantastic Four” BFFs, who I am proud to have met and continued relationships with on my own terms: Sue, Johnny, Reed and Ben. And to my first best friend, Mabel. Growing up together was awesome. When are we gonna get together and watch the new episode of Drag Race, girl?

•  •  •

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