Why Autism Only Birthday Parties Are All Right With Me
April 22, 2012
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Now Reading: Why Autism Only Birthday Parties Are All Right With Me
April 22, 2012
(originally written & published on April 22, 2012)
Yesterday we went to another autism birthday party. We have a nice group of autism kids (and nice moms & dads) that we’ve picked up over the years some from preschool, some from music therapy, some from swim therapy, etc and we all invite each other to all our ASD kids birthday parties.
One might be in their home, another in a play gym, yesterday’s at the YWCA pool, etc, etc.
What’s making me write this post is how comfortable we all are with each other. The kids are all different functioning levels, (of course my kid is the lowest). The moms hang out socially sometimes doing mommy lunches and mommy nights out, the dads not so much.
But when we get together for one of these birthday parties it’s just so GREAT to be around people who are going what you’re going through, who get it, who are keeping an eye out for the wandering kid, and not getting grossed out or annoyed when the 11 year old double dips and triple dips into the salsa, where it’s ok for the same song to be played over & over & over throughout the party and it’s ok to relight the bd candles 4-5 times cuz your kid likes to / is proud of blowing out the candles.
In the regular world we might never have been friends with these moms and dads. Maybe they come from a different background, or have different political views, or just aren’t the types of people we’d normally gravitate to… But over the years maybe our kids had a good time together at a few music therapy sessions, or the moms spent a lot of time hanging out in waiting rooms together waiting for their kids to get ours of speech therapy or OT…and now our kids are stuck together FOREVER…if we can help it….
And we will lose some moms, dads, & kids along the way probably. We have already. Some moved away. Some became higher functioning and their bd parties went to places where we knew my son wouldn’t have a good time like an arts & crafts place or a build a beat workshop. And so maybe we declined the invite 1-2 years in a row and then stopped getting invited after that. And you know what? That is fine. I have absolutely no problem with that.
The same thing happened years back when the king stopped getting invited to his typical friends birthday parties. Before his diagnosis mom went to a Mommy and me class and made a lot of friends. And for a few years we were invited to all their kids parties. And for a few years when they are young and the parties still have a toddler theme (gymboree, etc) our ASD son could enjoy the party and not stick out like a sore thumb. But as the typical kids got older their parties got harder for my son to handle and he wouldn’t have a good time and therefore mom or dad had to be “on him” every second and therefore we wouldn’t have a good time either. So we’d decline a few invites and then we’d stop getting invited. And that is fine.
And the king’s parties stayed the same. For the first few years they were a mix of autism kid friends & typical kid friends. But as my guy got older, his bd parties stayed the same, Gymboree or pool, pizza and cake. And I never wanted my friends with typical kids to force their kids to come to his parties.
So now we are squarely in the place where all we are inviting to the king’s bd party are autism kids (ok let’s say special needs kids) and all the bd party invites we receive are from special needs kids. And that is great.
I’ll admit it, years back i used to DREAD going to kids bd parties. And now I actually kinda enjoy it. Ok me being on antidepressants might have something to do with that (read about that HERE:-) but a bigger reason is that they are now pretty much all special needs bd parties and I can relax and not be that worried about my kids behaviors. I can actually relax a little bit…how refreshing!
And I know this won’t last forever either. Some others will move away and some others kids might make some progress and want their kids bd parties to be more age appropriate and might want to include more typical peers. While I totally expect his 16th birthday party to still be a 2 hour pool and pizza party at the Y. So I know this group of friends won’t last forever and that’s ok too. It will probably evolve and we’ll probably pick up some new probably more low functioning friends along the way. 🙂
The reason I decided to write this post is something that happened at the end of yesterday’s bd party. One of the ASD kids threw up, right there in the middle of the party room right after the cake was served. It was probably caused by a combo of too much chlorine pool water mixed with too much salsa mixed with too much pizza & cake, etc, etc.
Anyway he barfed. And most moms went to help, most dads got the hell out of there. 🙂 Of course that kinda cleared the party out. But we’re in the parking lot just as the kid who got sick is now happily getting in the car with his mom, dad and brother. And all of us are cracking jokes about the whole incident. My wife was commenting on the weird color of the barf. The other mom was marveling that it didn’t smell. I was saying that was more info than I wanted to know (“TMI man, tmi…”) and we’re all laughing.
And that my friends, I think can only happen at an autism only birthday party…
Written byFrank Campagna
I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).