Dear Abby: Schoolchildren, especially middle school or high school students who may not be socially adept, often eat lunch alone because they don’t know what to do when it comes to joining other kids at the lunch table. My grandson, who is on the autism spectrum, is one of them.
Classmates would be doing a great service if they said, “Hey, ‘Josh.’ Come sit with me.” It’s a small way to help others, and they could serve as examples/mentors. Kids with autism or some other challenges can learn socialization from helpful peers who are good in this arena.
It’s lonely to eat lunch by yourself. Please encourage your readers to consider this. – Someone Who Cares in San Diego
Dear Someone Who Cares: I’m glad to do that. The pain of social isolation can last far beyond the elementary and middle school years and color a person’s expectations of rejection into adulthood. Much of it could be avoided if parents took the time to explain to their children how important it is to treat others with kindness.
In recent years, attention is finally being paid to this. A national organization, Beyond Differences, started a program called “No One Eats Alone” that teaches students how to make friends at lunchtime – which can be the most painful part of the school day. It’s their most popular program, and schools in all 50 states participate. For more information about the work they do, visit www.beyonddifferences.org.
Dear Abby: My son and daughter-in-law recently had a baby girl. My daughter-in-law and her family have extreme OCD and are afraid of germs. I wash my hands all the time, but still she seems to cringe when I hold the baby.
I want a relationship with my granddaughter. I have expressed my concern to my son, but I don’t want to cause an argument. How can I approach this without causing friction? – Grandma S. in New York
Dear Grandma: Your daughter-in-law is a brand-new mother and is nervous about her baby being exposed to germs. A way to approach it would be to talk with your daughter-in-law in a non-confrontational way and tell her you have seen her reaction when you hold your granddaughter. Explain that you are careful about hand-washing, and ask if there is anything else she feels you should do.