Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘kids

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?

Before I had my fourth child, I have to admit that I laughed when I heard people setting up playdates. Play date? Play what? Really?

To me, playing with other kids was a normal childhood activity, something that happened without schedule, without planning, forethought or real effort. With child number 1, 2, and 3, I didn’t have to arrange any play. Not only did they have older siblings they could easily play with, but we had neighbors and other friends with kids the same age. Then, my fourth child (finally) came along. In ways we didn’t imagine, things changed.

Child number four, my precious Barnacle Boy, had issues getting along with other kids from day one. He actually did love his siblings and show interest in certain activities, but from the minute he could talk, he expressed his dislike and anger towards one sibling, then another. It was this adamant, negative emotion that finally pushed me over the edge into making ‘the’ appointment, you know the one, the appointment where you tell your doctor that something’s wrong and you’re not leaving until you have an answer.

Fast forward several years, my son is the one with zero birthday party invitations from any of his classmates, and it’s January. He’s gone to two parties in the last six months; one was his, and another was the birthday of a friend from first grade, a really fun, compassionate boy with an equally fun, compassionate mother. He’s got 20 other kids in his class at school, and a pretty good sized group of similarly-aged boys/girls in our church family, and gotten one invitation since September.

Anyway, my son wants to be social. He wants kids to come over and wants to, at times, be invited to their house. When your neighbors don’t invite your child over (from reasons ranging from not enough neighbors to not wanting to deal with him), there’s no close family of similar ages within an hour’s drive, and maybe it’s just okay to ignore the ‘different’ kid, I’ve become a playdate setter-upper. Really.

Today, he invited a friend over from church, and he came. We had 2.5 hours of listening to them giggle, laugh, and go back and forth about whatever they wanted, or didn’t want, to do. He got along perfectly with this boy, and the boy seemed to have a good time as well. When it came time to end their time together, as we know our son’s limits and on a Sunday afternoon, we know how soon he’ll become overwhelmed, neither wanted to part ways, but ending a playdate on a successful note is way better than ending it because my son’s locked himself in a closet or because they are just tried of co-existing, which happens with 8-year-olds, and is normal, but some parents don’t get that.

After laughing at the word playdate, in my pre-autism days, I can honestly say I ‘get it’ now. Playdates are necessary. Much like many people won’t ‘get’ autism and its behaviors until they experience it in their own family, I didn’t get playdates. Now I do. Dare I hope the same for others and autism?

My son’s big on routine. Sameness. Repetition. Familiarity. It all holds true with his diet, too. I’ve mentioned in a prior blog entry how food is a huge issue for us. He has a limited set of foods he’ll eat, and those foods need to be prepared the same way, too. (Only pancakes for breakfast, cut a certain way. Only a turkey or ham sandwich for lunch, no cheese, no mayo, just mustard. And no crusts.) Dinner is our experimental meal of the day. Because I have to cook for at least six of us daily, I don’t have the time to cook two meals — nor do I want to — so we try to get him to eat what we’re eating each night, some with better success than others. He’d eat chicken nuggets nightly if we let him, but only if they’re not crispy. (He’s got issues with smells and textures, and has been known to gag up many a bites of food and never look at them again.)

So, what to do? Each night we try to get him to try what we’re having. I made gumbo on Wednesday night (homemade, and may I say it rocked?) and for his bowl, I picked out the green peppers. I also didn’t use onions and very little spice, just enough to be tasty for everyone but not too ‘spicy’ for him. (Everything that tastes odd to him is ‘spicy.’) He ate it! He loved the rice, sausage and chicken. I tried to get him to eat some leftovers of it yesterday, as I was out late through dinner and suggested dd give him a bowl of it, but he wouldn’t try it.

If he eats something one time and it’s bad, chances are, he won’t try it again. He’ll shy away from it faster than you can say “I’ll make you more chicken nuggets!” We’re a non-red-meat household, so we eat a lot of meals that include chicken and ground turkey. We cook pretty well and can be creative, but with him, creative in the traditional sense doesn’t work. Instead, we need to be creative with food preparation in a boring way. Same ingredients, different ways…and every now and then, we throw in something different and hope he goes for it. He’s got a nose that beats most any I’ve seen, and he senses out a different smell, and taste, before the fork gets to his mouth….holding half the food initially on the fork before it left the plate and the ‘non-messy zone.’

I’m going away to the conference this weekend, so I am curious how things go with dh and their meals. Dh can be great at persuading him to try different things….but ds is really stubborn and too much pushing can result in a nightmare of a meltdown. Seen a few of those this week, but at least the bitemark faded!

So how do you introduce new foods into your child’s diet, especially if you avoid certain items? How do you get him to eat enough, and is only eating a few things a big deal, other than trying to find ways to make sure the diet includes proper vegetable and fruit amounts? Without anyone going crazy? 😉

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