If you have kids, birthday parties are par for the course. Toddlers are the star of the show at family celebrations, but as they grow, parties include friends and schoolmates. Unless your child is autistic...
Parents of autistic children tread a different developmental path, knowing the way to progress will have twists, turns, detours, and sometimes be blocked entirely.
They don't expect other parents to understand exactly how it feels when their uninvited child is left out of a fun activity. Perhaps even more difficult is having to say "no" to an invitation, worried that unpredictable behavior from their autistic child might ruin the day for everyone. They don't want pity, advice, or judgement; they just want a little sensitivity. And it's a joyous relief when other parents "get it".
Recently on Little Things, a website that chronicles the small but wonderful, a mom shared her story of a birthday invitation with a happy ending. Her autistic seven-year-old came home from school and handed her what she knew was an invitation to something. She opened the envelope with dread, knowing her little guy couldn't go, another time she would have to say no. But she brightened when she read these words:
"Carter sat beside Timothy at school and he always talks about him. I really hope he can come. We are renting a bounce castle that we can attach a small bounce slide at the bottom. We will also have water balloon’s and water guns. Maybe Timothy can come earlier in the day if it would be too much with the whole class. Let me know how we can make it work.”
It was like winning the lottery, or being surrounded by strangers and suddenly seeing a familiar face. Timothy's mom was jubilant. Someone understood. Someone saw her son as a friend. Carter saw through what makes Timothy different to see what makes him Timothy; a loving little boy who can play and laugh and be hurt.
Another mother looked at Timothy and asked what he needed to feel comfortable at a party. This one thing buoyed the spirits of a mom who has struggled to shepherd her son through a world that can't understand him. So she said YES! It wasn't a cure; it wasn't a sign from a higher power; but it was a small miracle, and she was thankful for it.
If you are interested in working with autistic children or want a career in behavioral health, please contact us. And if you'd like to read more articles about this or related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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