Most often, George is off by himself; but when he joins in, the others are very good about including him. Emma and the older boy have become great friends and are very evenly matched in humor, energy, and silliness. The five year old is almost always along, but is suffering from having his big brother's attention pulled away by this new long-haired interloper. His reaction is to get in Emma's face and bug, taunt, and pick at her until she is screaming with frustration and goes inside. Usually, within a half hour, they're all back outside again, having fun until the next whirlwind fight.
Yesterday, hearing a louder-than-usual screaming match, I headed outside. The boys had already left and a sobbing Emma was pushing bikes into the garage. We sat on the steps to talk and she filled me in. As the usual jealousy led to the usual arguments, Emma must have yelled to the older brother something about how she hated his younger brother. The usually diplomatic big brother leaped to the defense of his sibling and both boys began yelling at her about her "stupid" brother who was "worthless" and "doesn't know how to do anything".
And the mama rage erupted.
But I kept calm and we talked about how that felt and how much we love George. We talked about his strengths and how much he's grown over the last year. And what a good sister she is to him. Then Daddy came home from the store and was filled in.
And the daddy rage erupted.
But I calmed him down and we decided to wait a day before going over to our neighbor's house to
Luckily, today we were able to think more rationally and realize that this wasn't necessarily an attack on George. Our knee-jerk reaction as special needs parents is to protect first, think later. But in this case, it was just a normal kid fight that had escalated to the "your brother's dumber than my brother" level. We spoke to the father today and he agreed, but also took some time to talk to his sons about Autism (which he had also done when we first moved in).
Half an hour later, it was back to driveway races as usual. With all kids equally involved. Hearing George call, "Come on, guys, follow me!" and watching the others chase after him did our hearts good. It was a normal summer afternoon. Normal in a way we're still getting used to.