I am aware that many young children have an ‘imaginary friend.’ Wikipedia describes an imaginary friend as:
“Psychological phenomenon where a friendship or other interpersonal relationship takes place in the imagination rather than external physical reality.” Source: www.wikipedia.org
I always thought that imaginary friends were common for Pre-School-aged children, but researching further I’ve read that:
“By age seven, 65% of children have had an imaginary companion at some point.” Source www.todaysparent.com
This gave me some reassurance as Lou has only just introduced us to her ‘friend’ called ‘Izzie.’ When she first mentioned a girl called ‘Izzie,’ I thought that it was a member of her class and then I discovered that there was nobody in the class with that name and then ‘Izzie’ started arriving at our house, and the penny dropped!
From what I can gather, Izzie is a 4-year-old girl, just like Lou who “spits at her Mummy and Daddy.” I soon came to realise that Izzie would do a lot of negative things like “push her little sister over” and “not listen to her Mummy, or Daddy.” I build a picture up that Izzie was in fact a sort of persona of Lou’s behaviour that she didn’t like to admit to. If anything went wrong, such as a toy got broken, Lou would quickly say: “It was Izzie’s fault.” Lou has never been able to admit that she has done something such speaking to me in a rude manner, however, she is able to freely admit that Izzie is a culprit for a lot of these negative behaviours.
I spoke to a few other parents, as I seek a lot of reassurance via parenting forums, especially those for parents of children with additional needs, and a forum for parents who children have been diagnosed, or shows traits of PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance,) and I soon realised that many children use an imaginary friend or comfort item/toy to scapegoat their own behaviours. This is maybe a side of Lou that does display that she has a very good imagination,
“there are numerous informal as well as some scientific reports of children and adults with high functioning Autism having an imaginary friend (eg. Attwood, 2006; Calver, 2009; Holliday Willey, 2011.)
“Research in this area may challenge the view that high functioning autistic individuals are not very imaginative, and reduce the common misconception that having an imaginary companion is necessarily linked with mental health issues.” Source: www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk
I don’t think that ‘Izzie’ makes an appearance whilst Lou is at school, she must be occupied with the children in her class, but I have noticed that Izzie does appear more during school holidays, it must be a strange concept for young children to be surrounded by other children all term time then suddenly not during the holidays and she only has Moo at home for company, who hasn’t reached the same level of conversation just yet!
I don’t think that Lou is lonely, possibly more during the holidays as she is a social butterfly, if a little ‘too in-your-face’ sometimes! (Bless her,) She has more social skills and confidence (or outwardly appears to,) than I did as a child. I had an imaginary friend called ‘Tinkerbelle’ when I was 3 and she was there as a companion for me as I can remember feeling lonely and never quite fitting in with the crowd, invented Tinkerbelle as I was so unsure of how to make my own friends or how to even talk to other people.
I don’t think that ‘Izzie’ being around is anything too much to worry about at this point, however, I do not openly talk about her unless Lou brings her up in passing conversation and keep it very light, e.g. I saw that Lou had got out her ‘spinning’ chair into the middle of the room and she said: “There you go Izzie,” and addressed me: “Mummy, be careful, don’t sit on the chair, Izzie’s sat there,” to which I replied: “Oh is she? Ok then.”
Thanks for reading 🙂