We frequently hear about how children with Autism are excluded from parties – I’ve written about the topic before, unapologetically. There’s also been quite a bit about how kids with Autism tend to be marginalized by not having a lot of folks come to their parties…
But one good thing in the world is family. You can have hundreds of folks out there who aren’t going to include your child, but your family will always, always include your kids, no matter what.
This weekend was my nephew Z’s birthday party… and I’ll admit that I’d been somewhat nervous about the idea of taking the Monster to the party.
Like a lot of children with Autism, it’s hard to predict how the Monster’s going to respond. Parties for children are full of sound and other kids, and stimulation, and we knew that Z was looking forward to this party of his because he’d picked the theme – Halloween. (Yes, Z is aware that Halloween is in October, and that it’s February. Don’t spoil it for him, haters.)
Originally, part of the plan had included the idea that I might hang back at home with the Monster and take him to his Sunday Funday program instead of going to the party. That somewhat got put on the back burner when we found out that the swimming portion of Sunday Funday was going to be canceled due to a swim meet… because that’s why he likes going to the program. So instead, the plans were changed to having him come with us, with both him and R dressed up as cowboys, and we made our way down.
And… I think that we really worry too much.
Of course, the Monster wanted to roam around their house a lot during the party – he’s used to going over to their house, and so it was a bit of work to keep him on the main floor where he was supposed to be. And a lot of the time, he wasn’t necessarily keen on participating in the activities, and had to be cajoled and led through them – he didn’t want to have a blindfold on to play a variation of “pin the tail on the donkey”, and he’s still not absolutely keen about anything artistic…
But he did participate. He played a mummy-wrapping game (I don’t have a good pic of him with R, who was doing about a quarter of the wrapping, since my wife was doing most of it) and didn’t fuss too much about having toilet paper wound around him. He actually did make a paper-bag pumpkin.
And he was well-behaved throughout the afternoon. I don’t think we had a single meltdown while we were there, and while he wasn’t all that engaged, he was his usual sweet self, which was very nice to see with so many other folks around who don’t know him.
Best of all, he could express to me (at least once) where we were going before we headed out this morning, that we were going to Z’s birthday party. And while he didn’t sing along with happy birthday, he acted entirely appropriate through it, waiting for his turn for someone to get him a cupcake…