Well, aside from what happened after the party was over…
The Monster’s party has been a work in progress for probably about two weeks as we worked to clean our house and get things organized food-wise. Normally, we have a small turnout of folks who already know what a disaster our place can be, but this was a party with a larger audience – all told, it was about three dozen people, with at least another dozen invited who couldn’t come.
I’ve never been in the habit for really intricately planning out birthday parties for the Monster. Regardless of what we plan, he’s going to generally do what he wants… and as far as I’m concerned, my idea (personally) of a good time for my own birthday is doing precisely that. So instead of actually having stuff that hewed to a concrete theme, we basically prepped the media room with Cars (the theme), planned out a craft station that also went with the racing car theme… and then just set up the back yard and living room so the kids could play and do what they wished. We have a decent-sized enclosed patio on which we have a grill and some outdoor tables, where folks could eat and grab a cold beverage (adult and otherwise)…
Most of our guests, as I mentioned, were in two categories:
- Family (including kids)
- The wife’s and my long-term friends (and their kids)
This year, the wife invited a couple of her friends from the ARC mom’s group and from the local ASA chapter as well, so we had a larger variety of kids with a variety of severity of autism and/or other developmental disabilities. While I realize that each child is going to be different – even when it comes to the gaggle of NT kids who were going to be present – the major difference to us is that we know how to handle many of the issues that come with non-NT kids… and engineered things to be different.
Oh, it was a blast. The children arrived and tore off playing and were perfectly, perfectly fine doing as they pleased (just like the Monster). With a water table, two slides, the crafts table, a playhouse-thing and a decent-sized back yard (bordered on several sides with plant life, so there were only two escapes around the house), and with enough adults keeping an eye out to prevent elopements, it was… relaxing, actually. We had no dietary issues that I’m aware of – and even if we did, we had extra food on hand that we could have deployed – no meltdowns, no weird/worried looks from parents and guests at behavior.
It was the closest to normal that I’ve felt in a very, very long time. And that’s a good, strange, wonderful thing.
I think we’ll be doing a few more BBQ’s throughout the summer given how this went.