“Mom, I’m calling you about something important,” Matthew said earnestly, “listen very carefully.”

Matthew hands

I could almost feel his brown eyes glaring through the phone – I could see his eyebrows framing them with concern.

“I very seriously need to move in with a girl for a very good reason,” he continued.

Matthew had just moved from an apartment with his helper, Bill, to a new supported living arrangement on the property of Camphill Communities California with a new helper, Eric.

“Matthew, I know you’d like to live with a girl,” I said, “someday you might, but for now…”

“No,” Matthew interrupted anxiously, “You don’t understand. The reason I need to move in with a girl right away is not just because I think they are beautiful. It’s because the guys in my day program told me it’s funny that I always live with men. So I very seriously need to move in with a girl. I’m not kidding.”

“I see,” I said, feeling that heaviness in my chest that mothers get when they know that people are teasing their children. “But guess what? I’ll bet most of them live with men, too. It’s OK for guys to have men as roommates.

“No, they all live with women or girl friends. That’s what they told me.”

I paused for a moment. How could I explain wishful thinking and innocent white lies without getting Matthew all whipped up?

“Matthew, do you sometimes pretend that you have a girlfriend?” I asked, “Because when I was your age, sometimes I pretended that I had a boyfriend. I did it so my friends would think I was cool. I think maybe some of your friends might be pretending, too.”

After a long silence, during which I had the mother of all hot flashes, Matthew started to laugh, and I exhaled.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Pretending is funny. I have to have dinner now,” he said, “Good bye.”

Once again, a social story saves the day.

By the way, I actually did have a boyfriend when I was 23.

Or did I?


Laura Shumaker is the author of A REGULAR GUY: GROWING UP WITH AUTISM


She writes each Friday for 5 MINUTES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS.

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