Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘party

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?

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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 last week, my husband and I have been on vacation. In a word? Bliss. I don’t care if every minute is filled with mundane errands and getting up early to get ds to school; just having the time off together, during our own thing, our own schedule, is fantastic. But, the week has flown by and next Monday will come all too quickly.

During this past week, we’ve been away more than we’ve been home. We’ve gotten 80% of our shopping done, with another 15% tomorrow, leaving the last 5% for next week. We, or shall I say I, have gotten most of the baking for this Saturday’s open house done. Meanwhile, my house smells heavenly. (But I’ll leave out the part where I’ll be up all night baking the doughs we put together….all five MORE of them. I already have three bundt cakes of various kinds, and 15 loaves of fancy breads in the freezer.) It’s been a very busy week.

So, getting down to business…ds has had a busy week, too. First, a birthday party update. SUCCESS! Five kids from his class showed, some who hadn’t RSVP’d, but whatever, they were there. Two other kids showed up, and so did our friends we invited, and away we went. Games went well, we played mini-golf, and he had so much fun, presents took a backseat. Expensive, eh, $300 including cake, but we didn’t have to clean our house before or after, and ds had the party he wanted. Add that to the convenience level and we’re happy. (And no meltdowns at the party!)

We spent a day at Disneyland. Accommodations there were, again, amazing. We used our special assistance pass and got on every ride ds wanted within a very reasonable wait time. (And I still kicked everyone’s butt on Toy Story Mania. Ha.) Towards the end of the day, ds was getting a bit overwhelmed and when I expressed my negative opinion about getting knocked down when he pushed his stroller backwards into me as I was crouched on the ground tying my shoe, he refused to talk to me for almost an hour — even though I was the one who ended up on the ground. It happened again later when he refused to stop pinching his sister, but dh stepped in each time and lightened the mood. We visited the Tiki room, and while we sat in the back..in the corner…it was still enjoyable. A shout-out to Rainforest Cafe for their birthday party recognition! Ds has wanted the volcano cake for his birthday for months now, and he was excited for it to finally happen. We attempted to go back to Disney <quickly> to visit Woody’s Roundup, a yearly tradition, but the monorail held us hostage. First, the new cars only hold 15 a person, so one train, which only comes every 10 minutes, only can take about 40 people. Translation: you wait forever. Walk. It’s quicker. We wait though, as by then, we’d already invested so much time, we figured ‘how much longer can it really be?’ Ha. They had more in mind. Little did we know, after they squeeze 16 in our car (did you hear that, Disney? They put 16 in a car made for 15. Isn’t that against some safety regs??) that they were putting a second train on the line, and we’d have to wait while they got it on-line. Sure. Why didn’t you tell us that, or do it, BEFORE you load us into a small little tube? Then, we get 9/10 of the way to the station, 15-20 minutes later, only to hear that the second car had some issues with its windows, so we’d need to wait. AGAIN. Same little tube. Same claustrophobic help-we-have-been-kidnapped-and-are-being-held-hostage feeling.  After a 30-minute ‘quick ride’ to the Tomorrowland station, we got off. It wasn’t without some commentary, where those perfect people who were still in ‘happiest place on earth’ mode weren’t approving of comments of those of us who feel a $90 ticket shouldn’t include being detained. Oh well.

However, the day was completed without further incident. Disneyland’s special assistance pass saved the day. We enjoyed the beautiful Christmas castle and music and were glad to have gotten in our annual Christmas visit.

We also squeezed in a dentist visit. After losing the two teeth (mentioned in a prior blog entry) ds ended up with two shapes on his palate, shapes that looked like teeth coming in. He’d also complained his teeth were painful to brush in some areas. While I could have done without the hygienist smiling at us like we were paranoid craziacs when the xray confirmed it was just his palate being shaped funny, I felt redeemed  (the words “neener-neener” came to mind) when the dentist confirmed that we were right to bring him in just to be safe, as sometimes losing teeth can cause swelling like he had, and apparently infection. One point for the parents who pay high rates for good insurance and want to be sure their child’s mouth is safe. And ds didn’t freak, but that’s due mostly to an excellent dentist who knows how to ease his fears by explaining everything to him, addressing him appropriately, and letting him touch/feel all the tools prior to their use.

Then, today. Awards ceremony at school. Ds got a certificate for his grades, one for turning in homework regularly, and one for passing his health/P.E. requirements. He came into the ceremony SO excited. Smiling, dancing, and chatty. Trouble came when halfway through, a teacher reminded his table to be quiet. Poof. Magic words. That was the end of it. When it came time for his second award, he went to the front with his hood over his face. Our Assistant Principal, an amazing V.P., acknowledged it and tried to help, as did both dh and I, but to no avail. He stood for pictures with no face showing. When his name was called for his third award, he refused to move. He sat at his table, head down, while everyone else went on stage. Prompting from us made no difference. He was so upset by then, he was agitated and we had to leave him alone for fear of a full-out meltdown. (And to the lady who went  “Look!” and pointed at him like he was a rare parading zoo monkey eating a banana while hanging upside down and pottying, I really hope you realized that the child’s parents heard you and watched you. We wish no ill upon your child(ren) but you could stand to learn some manners and compassion.) We picked him up shortly after, and after sticking to the ‘no more negative talk once we get to the car’ credo, the day wasn’t so bad after all.

Tomorrow, we finish our shopping. Then, we take ds and a the girls (other ds won’t be along) to see the infamous Christmas lights a city away. It’s a big event every year, where we walk the entire show (after parking a mile away) and drink coffee purchased from a resident we find along the way. We sing carols along with the music pumped from the fancy homes, and talk with our friends, same homes we see every year but we’re nevertheless amazed. It’s going to get down to 37 degrees tonight. 37. I am jazzed. Christmas weather at last. Now, if I could just figure out how to get ds to wear a jammy top, we’d be golden; good thing he likes to wrap himself up in a special blue blanket every night because it’s soft. Tomorrow night will be cold as well, so Amen to getting Christmas weather on target.

Ds stayed in his bed last night — the WHOLE night. I heard him having a bad dream, but he got back to sleep and stayed there. Good thing, I stayed up late reading the last of the Twilight books. Yes, I am one of “those” moms. So what if a few people think they’re mindless drivel. We don’t all need to read enlightening award-winning literary prizewinners. Some of us like fictional books that don’t take a lot of thought, and these books fit the bill while allowing you to pretend you’re somewhere else for a while, because believe me, these books do put you in a whole new environment. Get a grip if you’re anti-Twilight, and go back to your Pulitzer material, Stephenie Meyer’s raking in the bucks so she’s got my vote.

Now I’m off to get more cookies in the oven, and watch a Nascar race on ds’s new Nascar toy race track the girls got him for his birthday. I can hear him giggling from here, and I need to watch his smile light up his eyes. Merry Christmas, everyone. I got my gift already.

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.

Where to start?

Last Friday, we took ds and dd to Disneyland. We’d postponed it twice over the two weeks prior, due to one of us being sick, and even though I still had a cold, we couldn’t postpone again. After all, Jack Skellington is at Haunted Mansion!!!

Anyway, I think everyone who had a pass but didn’t have tickets for the Halloween event at Cal Adventure was there. I haven’t seen the park this busy in years – and we go a lot. We always get my son’s special assistance pass and then make a beeline to Tower of Terror. Apparently, they were so busy this past Friday night that the Fastpass line was the only one open. When I showed the attendant my son’s special assistance pass, I was told, basically, ‘too bad.’ When I shook my head and tried to clarify, “No, really, where are disabled people being let in line?” He said there wasn’t a line. “Okay, seriously, you have to have a disabled or handicapped access. Are you saying you don’t have one?” I couldn’t believe it when he said “That’s right.” There were no words. I turned around, tried to placate ds with a spin by telling him we could now for sure fit in California Screaming AND Toy Story Mania before the park closed. Okay…sort of.

The rest of the Cal Adventure visit went great. We ate in the Mexican food restaurant (aka beer garden) over next to California Screaming (there’s got to be a reason they put it right there) and headed to Disneyland. The wall of people in line to get in should have clued me in that we’d chosen a bad night. But hey, we have a stroller for ds and passes, what can be bad, right??

We make our way around, only to find that Woody’s Round-up was closed. Wahhh. And ds had a meltdown, too. Took 20 minutes to get him remotely interested in anything else, and we forced him on the Haunted Mansion, where their handicapped option was really long, too, but at least there’s a lot to look at. Leave there, head for Indiana Jones, only to experience a repeat of Tower of Terror. What the heck? I love Disneyland. I’m a huge fan. In fact, we just renewed our annual passes, but I was really disappointed. I don’t expect the park to turn upside down for disabled guests, but to be met with blank faces totally lacking empathy or interest in helping us was a surprise. So un-Disneylike. (So was the 20+ minute wait over at the Matterhorn, in the handicapped line…only two people in front of us, and still over 20 minutes. One day, I’ll actually remember to stop and ask Guest Services exactly why that ride is so bad — are they told to make people in the handicapped line to wait? Or do the line attendants just all figure if we are still breathing, we can wait like anyone else?)

In the long run, the visit was still a good one. Ds loves his ice cream and the chance to walk through Mickey’s house over in Toontown. As a daily player at Toontown.com, he loves to sit on the trolley and talk about Cogs. And we have another trip planned in a couple of weeks, during the week, so we can avoid the massive crowds. Have to visit Woody’s Round-up, you know! (If you haven’t gone there yet, you won’t understand the attraction, but at Halloween and Christmas, they have these huge sugar cookie kits you buy for about $6, and it comes with frosting and sprinkles to decorate. Major fun for my little guy, and a ‘must do’ for every holiday visit.)

Onto the costume fiasco…..

Last week, my son saw a costume in a Party City ad that he just had to have. HAD to have. HAD TO. Nothing else would do. Yesterday, after school, in the throes of a migraine, I took him to go buy it. They had one left in his size, and the mask was missing. Long story short — after an offer of a 15% discount to buy it without the mask, an idea to buy a different costume, or an offer to go to a distant store where they’d hold one for us, we chose driving to the distant store. This wasn’t without a meltdown — he began to cry in the checkout when they said “no mask.” (This, after we’d been shuttled to four different people who all supposedly had the mask.) The woman behind us couldn’t stop staring as though my son was some spoiled brat. (My daughter had a mean, but great comment “Keep walking. He’s not a doughnut.” See, she was rather large and had her mouth completely open. Yes, I know it’s mean, but after a while, you get tired of rude stares and sighs.) The other Party City had it right there waiting for us, and we grabbed it and ran, without the hassle of the other store. (One cashier actually told me “It’s not our fault people don’t put the masks back on after trying them on.” It’s not? Then who’s is it? And a 15% discount? Come on, you can’t sell it without the mask anyway, so why not a bigger break? It was ridiculous, though most people were nice there, just ridiculously disorganized.) So ds has his costume. He’s thrilled, and he ran around the house in it for a while when we got home. That alone made it all worth it…even though I was virtually without makeup and had on those same holey ripped shorts I had during his infamous meltdown at school. You’d think I’d learn to never wear them again, but in the end, really, who cares?? I had bigger priorities, and I had a migraine. So if you’re the lady who stared at me because he was screaming while standing in front of the cash register and slowing down your rush to buy those Halloween decorations and candy in your hands, get over yourself, you’ve still got three weeks to decorate and eat store that candy for trick-or-treaters.

You know what I’m talking about. That vacant look a child with autism gets when they have reach the point of extreme overstimulation.

 Our weekend started with an open house here with at least 30 kids playing upstairs in the playroom at various times. HIS playroom. He had been prepped all week that this would happen, but after an hour or so, he started to come unglued. He had a few tantrums and meltdowns over different things, then it progressed to him going into the ‘forbidden zone,’ our bedroom. We had the door shut and didn’t want the kids in there (ours, anyones) because not only is it our bedroom, but it was the room we used to store some of the things we didn’t want the kids playing with — the new pool table/air hockey set, the pile of birthday gifts from his party the weekend before, my computers, etc. Yet, by 8:00pm or so, he’d climbed into our bed…with food. I guess I can’t blame him for wanting to retreat, but the room was ransacked, as was the playroom, and he then was unhappy because all his stuff was scattered. (But thankfully, we did go on an intensive search for all the pieces to his new Torpedo game, and found everything!)

Saturday comes around, and we had two more parties to go to. We went to the first one late, left early, yet ds ate a bunch of sweets. He had a couple of meltdowns there, and then got so hyper, even the most patient of kids were getting frustrated with his inability to calm down. One thing to keep in mind, before someone thinks we dragged him places he didn’t want to go, is that he loves both of these families who hosted the parties. They both have animals he enjoys playing with, and they are very understanding with him, so we didn’t have to drag him — he wanted to go, which says something itself.

After party number one, we went home to give him time to decompress. We cuddled, he ate his latest obsession, Club Crackers, and he watched some Christmas TV. Then off to another party at 7:35. He loves going to this house, they are family to us, and they also have a slew of pets to play with, including a teeny chihuahua and a very spirited husky, both who are very tolerant of his energy level…though by 10pm, the husky was huddled in her kennel, like I’ve never seen, worn out from ds’s playing with her. He had a couple of meltdowns there, but not too bad. He wasn’t surrounded by nearly as many other children, and he feels more at home here than most places. After 11:15pm, we headed home, though to his credit, he wanted to stay. He was supposed to sing with the children at church on Sunday, for Christmas, and we wanted him to at least get his 8 hours of sleep. (And that alone is a feat.)

Sunday morning, he did really well singing, though I think a whole lot of lip syncing was going on. He behaved good the whole time, as far as we could tell, though he didn’t want to sing and again told his teacher that. (She’s a good friend of ours, and she’s just an amazing person anyway, so he was in excellent hands and she got him to sing anyway.) Heading to the car, things were good…until we mentioned we were going home for a couple of hours before his sister had a Christmas piano and vocal recital. All heck broke loose.

Fast forward two hours later, dh and I took dd to the recital, leaving ds with our 19 yod, with the agreement that when she left for work, she’d drop him off at the recital. Fine, right? Dh and I get to the recital, “Dh, do you have your phone with you? You probably should, on vibe, just in case there’s a problem.” He realizes, only after we’re trying to figure out why they’re not there yet, that ds refused to leave the house and ds had been calling and calling. She got him into the truck, and dropped him off, but he refused to come inside. Worrying that this would happen, I’d already alerted the music instructor that as soon as dd was done with her vocal performance in the second half, we’d be leaving. Ds sat on a little table right outside the door of the recital room, with dh watching while I video’d dd. We scooted out quietly, having enjoyed a slew of snacks at the break, and ds was excited to know we were heading home. No amount of ‘just peek! that’s your sister singing!’ would get him anywhere near that front door, and we didn’t want to push the issue. When he’s had enough, he’s had enough, and enough probably started Saturday around 3pm.

In the end, he did well, all things considered. He even survived a quick stop at Henry’s so I could run in and grab more probiotics and almond milk, though, in  his words, it took “too long.” We’d gotten a boost earlier in the day when dd had shown us her college final project in which she showed pictures of ds before and after biomedical intervention, and the change in his smile and eye contact is unmistakable. Slipping backwards for a couple of days because social events get in the way isn’t a goal, but I know that a year ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do that. He’s come a long way.

In the evening, he found his beloved Santa hat dripping wet on the bathroom counter. Major meltdown, took a while to calm him down though it ended up being him that had put it in the shower. It’s now drying and hopefully is completely there before he returns from school. He was convinced last night that it would never be the same.

Tonight he sees the dentist, so she can determine if his nightly teeth grinding has damaged a crown (over a root-canal’d tooth) to the point where the risk for infection is too high and the crown must be replaced. Dental work of that level=sedation, so I really hope that she says it’s not necessary, but it wasn’t looking too positive last time. I already got the ground work in place though for no metal, only porcelain, in his mouth, though she feels metal is okay but respects our feelings that it isn’t. Pray and think happy thoughts that we can escape more dental work for the little dude, he doesn’t need more to deal with.

When I sent him to school this morning, the vacant look was improving. He wasn’t pulling at his eyelashes this morning, as he had been all weekend. He still wasn’t himself, but that’s okay. One thing at a time, and any improvement is good improvement.

I love to watch my son play. I love to listen to him talk. He’s happy, he’s innocent, and he’s so trusting, it breaks my heart at times. I think about what I want him to do versus what he wants to do, and wonder why I worry. Much of the time, he’s oblivious to his differences from others. That’s good, right?

I want to be like him — I want to not worry what others think. I want to wear my flannel ‘softs,’ those flannel pants that I love to lounge in but would never be seen in outside of my immediate family, and keep them on for a trip to Target, not caring what others think..and I mean really not caring what others think, to the point of not just ignoring funny stares but not even noticing them. I want to wear my fuzzy ear-covering sheepskin hat, favorite purple sweater, those flannel pants, and flip-flops, with the only thought about my clothes being just how darn comfy I am. I want to sing a song I heard that day (heard one time, if I want to really be like my son) and smile as I sing it, not worrying if others watch me. I want to delight in the sight of a bird hopping along next to me, then giggle as I startle it. I want to just enjoy the world, at my own level, smiling at others as I need to, but otherwise just being in my own world, no worries about being accepted or being unsocial. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

The fact that I can’t do those things doesn’t make me normal — it makes me envious. I think about how different my son is socially, and I want to make life easier for him, but can I do that without making him more aware of it?

Take the case of his birthday party. I invited his whole class of 21 other kids. Two came. On one hand, only two RSVPd, so it wasn’t like we had people flake. On the other hand, two came. (In reality, three came, but one is our close friend and would have been there whether or not he was in ds’s class.) The day before, the kids were telling him they didn’t want to come, yet they didn’t seem to be mean to him or disinterested when we celebrated his birthday at school. Yet, when he went back to school today, in all likelihood bugging his classmates about where they were and why they weren’t at his awesome party, several said they didn’t come because they didn’t want to come. So no only did they not come, but they had to be mean. Am I wrong to be disappointed that kids are so mean so young?

Often, I run into adults that don’t require their kids to be nice to my son. They allow their kids to ignore him as he yells hello, and they give us a pacifying “hello” as they run to their car, patting their child on the back to guide him/her to move along, away from ds. Sometimes I have to say “Joey, xx is saying hi to you, I don’t think you heard,” which sometimes, and only sometimes, inspires the parent to nudge their child to respond. I guess this is real life — not just a by-product of my son being autistic and ‘different’ — but it is disappointing. I’m trying to teach my son social skills: manners, politeness, courtesy, compassion, love for one another, and it’s hard in a world where the bar is so low anymore. Yet, it’s expected of my son on a daily basis though some don’t want to return it to him, and if he doesn’t act the ‘right’ way, they complain. It’s one of those things I will never understand, and I need to let go of it but it’s hard. “Social skills” may be a misnomer, because they’re under-appreciated and over-rated.

In the end, ds’s day was good. He did receive four (count ’em, four!!) awards at his school’s trimester ceremony, and he’s so very proud, as are dad and I. And we’re on night #4 of sleeping in his own bed. Things can be great, especially when you put it on their level and not our expectations. Enjoy your child’s ‘normalcy’ and don’t compare it to others’, as their own uniqueness is a gift.


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