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The year was 1992 and I was six years old. My parents held me back a year so when I began kindergarten I was already a year older than most of the kids in my class. Looking back, I recognize some of the red flags that were raised which could have helped me receive my autism spectrum diagnosis a lot earlier than I did. This book is about how I succeeded in school by making my first friend.
Back in the early 1990s people weren’t as aware of the high functioning end of the autism spectrum so parents and teachers didn’t identify the traits and developmental delays often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Kindergarten was a rough time. But, I recall my first friendship with Eric. I can’t tell you how the friendship began or developed; it just happened naturally. At that age there are fewer social norms and rules involved in making and keeping a friend. Things happen naturally. Eric and I ran around on the playground with some of his friends playing games like cowboys and Indians. These things took little or no effort for me. It was a situation in which I was able to live in the moment and develop a natural friendship with Eric.
My friendship with Eric would carry me through most of my elementary school years. A lot of time was spent out on the playground. I did well with this. The friendship wasn’t about maintaining a conversation or making small talk. It was just about being in the moment and running around. Usually, I followed Eric around.
Now, I’m 27 years old. I’ve learned that adult friendships don’t work like this at all and they definitely don’t come naturally or just magically fall into your lap. I suspect I’d have done a lot better in life than I have so far if friendships still worked the same at age 27 as they did when I was six years old in kindergarten.
In fifth grade my world began to change. One October day Eric informed me that his dad had taken a job in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. By the end of the month, my best friend was going to be moving from my hometown of Andrews, Indiana, to Cedar Rapids. I was shocked. I didn’t know what life without Eric would be like. This was in 1997, which meant Eric had been my best friend since 1992 in kindergarten. I always expected I was going to see him every day at school and assumed we’d always be friends. But with one sentence, Eric was proving this to be untrue. He was leaving for Iowa and I was going to be left in Indiana without my best friend.
This book covers my friendship with my best friend in Elementary School Eric and shows you how I succeeded in elementary school with his help.

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