I have not been the only one growing, stretching and trying new things. For those new to my blog, my oldest child Mr. L is autistic. Being autistic can make experiences that other families take for granted and see as easy or simple, basically impossible for us to do. One of these experiences that many families just see as a rite of passage, but has taken us years to figure out, are birthday parties.
Don’t worry, our kiddos have always been celebrated for their birthday. But it hasn’t always looked typical or traditional for where we have lived. My son turned 11 this year and this was the first year that he asked to invite friends to his party.
This request was huge, exciting, and for me… a bit nerve racking! How was I going to pull off a friend party when this kiddo doesn’t have regular friend play dates? This kid doesn’t have friends over to play, so how was I going to do this?
As a special needs momma though, I’m an advocate and I don’t take no for an answer.
So I started with a family friend, actually my other son has a school friend that has become a friend to all of my kids. So obviously he was invited because all of my kids love him. Then I reached out to Mr. L’s special education teacher and asked her if there were any students in his class that would like to come to his birthday party and if they had a parent that would be interested in their child participating. This can be tricky, especially when you have never met these families and with all the privacy and protection laws.
But Mr. L’s teacher was great, she said one kid would probably love it and she was excited about the whole thing. So the teacher passed along my contact info to the kid’s mom and later the same day I got an excited text from a sweet mom that was over the moon thrilled that her child was going to be invited to his first ever friend birthday party. Awesome right!?
I asked my son if he knew this kid and with an exuberant response he told me yes and he wanted to invite him. Needless to say my momma heart filled with joy at this potential milestone, but I was super nervous too! What if they forgot the day of, or had to cancel last minute?
Well turns out we had to reschedule the party a few weeks out, because of a funeral and a family emergency… But despite these unpredictable situations, the party was still able to happen and both kids came!
Mr. L asked for a Chuck E. Cheese party, and despite all of the sensory overload that a Saturday afternoon birthday party can entail, it went amazingly well. The party planner at the pizza mouse house was patient and wonderful with my kids, grandparents and the invited kids came, and family friends made time for the celebration too.
My husband was amazing and noticed when our son was starting to get overwhelmed by all the singing, noise, and crowd. Mr. Husband asked me if our kiddo needed a quick break, so I asked Mr. L if he needed a bathroom break down a quiet hall after he got birthday cake, and it was exactly what our son needed. Just a quick minute to decompress, have some quiet, and relax before jumping back into the chaos of a kid party.
I was so proud of both my kiddo and my husband. For my husband recognizing the signs of a potential meltdown, for offering an out for our kiddo, and for my son being willing and able to step away and reset before losing control and becoming overwhelmed by his environment. They did a great job working together. It all went better then I could have hoped for.
So there is another wonderful milestone to add to the books 🥳