Birthday Celebrations

Birthday’s are often stressful events when you have an autistic child.  Maybe the child doesn’t get invited to parties and notices they’re excluded.  Maybe they do get invited to parties and while exciting, the event becomes overwhelming for the child.  Then there is the matter of what to do when it is your child’s birthday.

G’s was this past week.  He had been talking about having his birthday party at a specific park since last year, but in the last few months he’d changed his mind and wanted no party at all.  I was torn on this decision.  On one hand, I understood and empathized with his feelings, knowing it was an incredibly stressful experience for G.  On the other, I was sad that he realized just how difficult parties were for him.  And I worried that he’d change his mind after it was too late and it would become this traumatic experience he’d be reliving in therapy as an adult. 

One great thing about this year is that school started early, meaning G’s late-august birthday would occur after classes began.  He became very excited about this – he’d seen other kids bring in birthday treats and couldn’t wait to do the same.  We have a local diner/ice cream shop that bakes gourmet cupcakes and he decided he really wanted to bring in some of these special cupcakes.  Since we weren’t spending any money on a party, it seemed like the perfect solution!  We confirmed with his new teacher that treats were appropriate and placed the order.

The day of his birthday coincided with G’s day to bring in a “Me Bag.”  Each day two children bring in a bag filled with things that represent them and give a presentation in front of the class.  The children sign up for a day themselves so the project is very much in their hands.  G picked the day of his birthday himself, told DH about his assigned day himself, (which in itself is huge) and selected the items for his bag with minimal input from me.  Because it was his birthday, he asked if we could wrap a box to look like a present.  Ingenious! 

He had the best day.  His presentation went wonderfully – no signs of anxiety.  Kids were surprised and wished him happy birthday when he pulled out his little present.  They were also amazed and impressed that he was just turning 7 years old and in the third grade, which made him feel so proud.  The entire grade sang to him in the lunch room as is tradition.  And the cupcakes were a smash hit!  One boy was so excited, he couldn’t stop thanking all of us.  (He was so effusive I worry he is on sugar restrictions and his parents won’t thank us.  Oh well!)  Before eating the cupcakes, G’s teacher pulled out her birthday costume box and had G pick out silly things to wear.  Then he sat on a stool at the front of the class while the kids sang  to him again.  He was grinning from ear to ear.

The day was great.  G was so happy and I was so impressed with how well he handled himself.  He really took charge of the day in a way I’ve never seen him do before.  He hasn’t said anything about not having a party so there seem to be no regrets, as yet.  I feel we made all the right choices this time.  Sometimes I work so hard to give G the typical childhood experiences so he won’t miss out and they backfire because they’re not what he needs.  This time, we really listened to what he was telling us, and he got just what he wanted.

Published in: on August 30, 2010 at 10:22 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hooray!

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