Michael started out with one imaginary friend, Meeko, the racoon from the Poccohontas movies. Yes, he LOVES Poccohontas. It is now his second favorite film, having been replaced by “Frozen” and his love of that film and its characters. Though he likes Frozen more now as a movie, his imaginary friends are still the characters from his beloved Poccohontas. I know that children on the spectrum have challenges with their imagination, so I figured this is why it was easier for Michael to choose an ‘imaginary’ friend who was not too abstract, and was in existence, at least on the big screen. Still, the conversations they have are very real. Michael will play games with Meeko, we’ve baked real brownies and muffins for him for his birthday parties, and apparently the other day, Meeko’s Mom, aptly named Mrs. Meeko, came over to our house after school to show me how to do another massage to help Michael deal with his anxiety. And she was very nice 🙂 On Saturday, Meeko’s sister, aptly named Meeko’s sister, also came to visit and play with the boys, er, I mean boy and male racoon. Michael is learning many things and building some play skills with these friends. I hear the dialogue flowing back and forth between them. I may have a budding writer in the family!
Michael has brought me back to my childhood, when I was a little girl of four and five years old, and had my own imaginary friend named Mary. Exceptional Children start later and have imaginary friends for longer periods of time, I’ve been told. Mary was my playmate when my brother was too young to play with me. She got me through many lonely moments, we laughed and joked together, and then one day she was gone. I know that having that friend helped me enormously with my social development. It ripened my imagination, and paved the way for me making friends in school. Most importantly, like with Michael, it helped me deal with stress and anxiety, all important for leading a happy and productive life.
I really believe that encouraging our Exceptional Children to find any tools they can use to help them navigate society, can be useful for them and for the whole family. Exceptional Moms have to be detectives alongside their children, see what their interests are, and encourage their children, so that they can learn from their play and grow as people. And Exceptional Moms, you also have to be aware of what tools you used as a child in stressful circumstances. Why not try and see if they can work for your child? The fun is in trying, for sure. You and your child will be playing together. Until next time.