Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘birthday

My son’s birthday party is this coming weekend. We invited 25+ kids. Do you think we’ve gotten any RSVPs yet? That would be a no. But, moving on…

The rules are give to everyone in class, or no one. We followed the rules, assuming if BB didn’t get along with someone, the child wouldn’t come, right? However, I guess not. The school sets you up in this no-win situation and then doesn’t have your back when it backfires.

BB has a boy he doesn’t want to come to the party. The boy insists on coming. BB tells him that he doesn’t want him to come. Boy threatens to hurt BB. Both are hauled to the office. Boy is told that threat is wrong, and BB is told that what he said is mean and wrong. I get phonecall where I’m told repeatedly that BB is a full-participant in this issue and is responsible. AKA other boy is off the hook and BB gets treated like this mean kid. In fact, I was told that the “poor boy had his feelings hurt.” What about my boy’s feelings?

Hello, autism, anyone? I did hear during the call that he doesn’t seem to be able to understand and/or communicate his feelings well. Newsflash, that’s autism! Of course, when you don’t agree with the authority figure that yes, BB is wrong, yes, that was mean, oh that poor other boy, you’re seen as less than cooperative. But it’s also wrong to stand there and agree the whole time when your child was being honest, something we always tell him to do. Use your words, Honey. Tell the truth. He does that and is in trouble.

The school needs to fill the gap. Don’t discipline him without trying to help him. I tried to explain that he’s doing what we taught him, and if they keep up that policy, what is he to do? He has to have children over that he doesn’t want?

Next party, we’re going to politely screw off the policy. He’ll hand out invitations as discreetly as he’s able to those he truly wants to come. If they say something, I’ll remind them of this fiasco.

On a good note, after BB flipped out during the “consequence” phase of the issue yesterday, saying “There’s no party now!” he is fine today. Apparently no further issues. Phew.

We did cover with him that while honesty is best, sometimes it’s also better to keep those feelings to yourself if it doesn’t do any good. But honestly, we didn’t think it was worthy of the big deal. He’s not in trouble with us. He answered honestly, and is just a kid excited about his party. Rewarding a taunting child and disciplining the one who tried to handle it honestly is bad form. I’m proud he used his words and expressed his feelings and we don’t want him sent mixed messages.

And maybe I should start calling the school every time someone says something mean to him. It appears to happen a lot but I don’t call and ask them to call the parents. Why are we fair game?

This last week, we finally decided what to do for BB’s birthday. He had grand plans, but with an impending cross-country move, we’re watching our budget. We also aren’t sure he’ll have enough kids come to make a pizza-parlor/game type of party, so we decided to go back to our standby, a cool bouncer in the front yard with food of his choice and a sundae bar for dessert, along with cake. The theme is Army, and I’ve got all kinds of decoration/game ideas, though with his temperament, I may have to back out of the Nerf gun/marshmallow shooter ideas for fear of someone flipping out with a bullet or marshmallow in the eye.

But, to the point…I sent invitations to the entire class on Wednesday. All 20+ kids, and asked for RSVP. (I know that RSVPs aren’t foolproof, but it’ll at least give us an idea if kids are coming and how much food to buy.)

Chirp. Chirp. That’s the crickets as we wait for the phone to ring.

I know there’s a major holiday in a few days, but if I’d waited to send out invitations after Thanksgiving break, we probably wouldn’t have given them enough time.

I know people are busy, but I still can’t help but worry….what do I do if he has few to no kids? (Okay, wait, I know he’s got one coming at least.)

This is an issue a child shouldn’t have, worrying if he’s going to have birthday party guests to celebrate with.

I have to stop worrying and just keep planning. Camouflage decorations, little Army men all over the yard, and face painting to match the theme. No goodie bags of cheesy toys and candy no one wants, but some homemade cookies in some Army-ish shape I have yet to decide upon. Maybe some game prizes, not sure yet.

How does everyone else handle birthday issues?

This coming weekend is barnacle boy’s 8th birthday. For the first time in, hmmm, ever (?), he wants to have a party outside of the house. This means we don’t have to order a bouncer, buy and prep a ton of food, and find a decorating theme. No online orders for obscure characters. No plugging in heaters and coffee pots in the garage so the adults can stay warm while their kids jump in the bouncer. And, no looking for rain or wind that will mean we have to go to Plan B, games and tattoos and face-painting inside.

It also means we get to put the camera, a guest list, and a cake and its trimmings into the car and head off to the party. (We celebrate his birthday separately as a family on the actual day.) Piece of cake, eh?

In theory, yes. But, around 10-11 days ago, ds invited approx. 12 children. We’ve heard from two. They are both (thankfully) coming. We’ve got room for 18, and I paid for 12 regardless. I complain about this every year, the downfall of the habit of RSVP’ing. And, bigger still, the worry that ds won’t have many kids at his party.

I hope the lack of RSVPs is just that, the lack of RSVPs. There’s still a few days before the party, and the thing I want the most is for the invited kids, or at least most of them, to show up, RSVP or not.

And, that quickly, I think we’re at three!

Parties are bittersweet — I want them 100% happy, but we have to worry about people attending, and then ds not having a hard time with something. This party’s been carefully constructed though, with lots of activities, food, and a schedule that will keep them moving. And we parents? Pizza galore. When it comes to party food, what could be better? Oh wait, the fact I don’t have to clean up the party food.

Bring on the party. We’re ready.

A bit of a different blog entry today — I wanted to take a minute to high-five Disneyland, especially since Knott’s Berry Farm and Magic Mountain have decided that autistic people don’t rate enough for special accommodations that actually, well, accommodate their needs. 

Ds has wanted to spend his birthday at Disneyland all year. We did it last year, so that started a tradition. We are annual passholders, so we go every few weeks but there’s something special about going for a birthday celebration. Disneyland manages to make it fun for the whole family, and today was no different. When we arrived at California Adventure, we easily renewed our guest assistance pass (thank you, Disney, for keeping that process painless and quick) and ds became the proud owner of a pin that announces it was his birthday. Huge smile on his face. To him, that button alone was a special pass. Then the guest services representative handed him the phone, where Goofy wished him a happy birthday. Even huger smile. (Huger=my new word for the day.) Then it was on to Tower of Terror, the first of many rides.

Fast forward hours later to our visit to Woody’s Reindeer Round-up by Thunder Mountain Railroad. Decorating, then eating, the huge sugar cookies is something the kids look forward to every holiday. There, and everywhere we went, Disney staff was telling ds “happy birthday!” Stuff like this, something that seems little, really does make a big difference.

Every ride we went on had a line of sorts, so the ability to avoid those lines makes the day possible. Without it, we couldn’t go to Disneyland. (And because Knott’s and Magic Mountain don’t have this, Disney’s got a very loyal fan base of families with autistic children.) We do want to teach line-waiting skills, but there’s a time and place for that, and a crowded amusement park is not the place. Children with autism deserve the opportunity to have fun, like every other child.

So where does the cotton candy come into play? Ds loves the stuff. Has to have it every trip. You know autistic children and routines, repetition, sameness, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to find when you need to, but today was the worst time we’ve had yet. We’d forgotten that with the 8pm closing, 7:45pm fireworks show, and several other earlier shows, half the park would be inaccessible, with booths/carts shutting down or moved out of their normal place. We asked a lot of Disney staff, only to get conflicting suggestions on where to find it. I finally stopped a woman who was carrying it — she didn’t want to even talk to me and tried to get away, but I was a mom on a mission, and I didn’t think I was asking much of her to point me in the direction of the cotton candy cart. Mission accomplished, though dh had to run and just made it in time before the cart rolled away. Extra exercise to burn off the Hefeweizer from lunch, right?

Next visit, the cotton candy’s being bought first time we see it, and stuffed in the stroller storage until it is time.

Onto other things — we’re gearing up to go casein-free in January, and maybe even gluten free, too. I’d love to go fully GFCF, yet we’re not sure. Before someone flames us for at least not trying it, fyi, we did. Almost three years, GFCF for several months, with only a minimal improvement, and even then, it was temporary. While I fully believe in GFCF and biomedical treatment, I also believe that as a community we need to be understanding of each other, which means not being dismissive to those who don’t believe the same things. I’ve asked a lot of questions on a lot of lists over the years, usually with wonderful results and great support I get nowhere else, but there’s been a few who refuse to answer because we’re not 100% GFCF, or because we’re not chelating. I hate to see more stress added to the load of parents of autistic children because one side thinks they are more ‘right’ than the other side. Why have sides? Why not just one big group of people with diverse opinions and respect for everyone?

Anyway, back to my point — kudos to Disneyland. We will continue to be annual passholders as long as Disney continues to be truly accommodating to guests with autism. We will speak with our words in praising emails and blog entries, and with our money by purchasing Disney gear. We’ll continue to tell everyone what a positive experience our visits are, and how happy our little one is at each visit. We can’t say that about everywhere we go, and let’s face it, ds doesn’t want to go everywhere. In fact, he wants to go few places…and Disneyland is one of them.

And last but not least, pray or think happy thoughts for us. Ds’s birthday party is this weekend, and rain is forecasted for later that afternoon. If we can get at least enough rain-free weather to have the bouncer for some of the party, we will be satisfied. Ds is counting on the bouncer. And at this point, still not even one R.S.V.P. out of all 21 kids in his classroom. I will be talking to his teacher tomorrow to find out if it’s true that kids are saying they’re not coming, or if it’s just a case of parents not realizing the R.S.V.P.’s still are helpful. I would much rather it be the latter, because my little sweetheart deserves a party, and compassionate friends to at least visit. (But compassion is lacking in the world anymore, and less and less is it being taught to kids.) I can deal with no R.S.V.P.’s — I can’t deal with no guests. I’ll update later.


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