Normal families have Super Bowl parties.
We’re more fortunate than a lot of families that are dealing with an ASD, in that the Monster really is not sensory adverse. We’ve taken him to plenty of places – amusement parks, fireworks displays, bowling alleys and the like – where other children with Autism have trouble coping with all of the sensory overload.
On the other hand, hosting a party for a football game is a different animal. As I’ll freely admit, I get very enthusiastic for teams when I have a rooting interest – I yell, pace, and so on – which can even probably rattle some kids who aren’t dealing with the same issues. Even in a year when our hometown team is not one of the two teams playing, it is a lot of noise and chaos as the game progresses and people flow this way and that to get food, drinks and conversation. It means other people over at the house, and he has his own set of behaviors that kick in when there are other people around.
I’m a big advocate that parents of children with Autism shouldn’t shy away from doing ‘normal’ things, but rather should adapt so that those normal things can facilitate their children’s strengths and weaknesses. In our case, it means that we tend to host the Super Bowl party – specifically so that the Monster’s in a familiar place and that he can go to bed in his bed when it’s time.
This year, we only had one other child over – our nephew, who the Monster absolutely adores – and that meant that the boys were largely bouncing here and there during the early phases of the game when they weren’t scarfing down food. They did, eventually, gravitate towards our disaster of an office to play on the iPad, where it was quieter and probably more interesting for them. But, we managed to get through the game without any meltdowns, and that was a good thing if you ask me.
(The one fail was that he did finally have an accident, after having gone all weekend without a single problem. I think that’s more on us, though, than on him, since in the chaos of the party, we weren’t paying enough attention, and he likely would have said something if we’d been nearby.)