Skipping The Party

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Have you ever been to a child’s birthday party? Party games, kids running and screaming, ice cream and a cake decorated with the most popular cartoon character. Lots of laughter and fun, unless you are a parent like me. I have written about not attending certain things before, weddings, birthday parties, cookouts, Holiday parties or any other event with friends or family. You won’t see us there and if we happen to stop by, don’t expect us to stay long.
One thing that keeps coming up, no matter where I seem to run is…”why didn’t you come to the party/get together.”
Many people think that just because my son has autism doesn’t mean I should skip these “important” events in time. I sometimes wish I could trade places with many of these people, you know give them a day with the Monster. See how they like dealing with the meltdown over something small and then put them into a position of having to attend one of these get together/party/events and see how fast they run.
It’s not that we don’t go out and do things, it’s not like we don’t go out to eat, to the mall, to our local Wal-Mart. It’s not like we don’t attend some events, but sometimes it is impossible. Mike have made an agreement to attend these things together. And if he has to work then if one of my sisters is free, then they will go with me.
So the big question is….”Why is it so hard to go out and go to certain places?” followed by “Who cares if he has a meltdown.” or the famous “I’m sure he will be fine, I will help with him.”
Well I worry all the time that he is going to break something here at our house, that is already toddler/autism proof. Imagine going to a whole new place, in a different environment. It’s hard enough watching a 2-year-old without autism. I don’t need added stress. Sensory overload adds onto having to watch him like a hawk. If we attend a birthday party and it’s too crowded in a house, sometimes sensory overload takes place. The smell of food that makes his stomach turn, the noise of other children running through the house screaming. The adults that crowd up to have conversations and half of them don’t even know or realize that the Monster is non-verbal. It becomes too much for him. Too much for his little brain to wrap around. Then start the sensory overload right into a full-blown meltdown. So he throws something and possibly breaks something or hits grandma in the head while she was just trying to enjoy her cake. So I care if he has a meltdown, especially when we are in a closed in area.
The “I’m sure he will be fine, I will help with him.” I don’t care how you help with him, it usually doesn’t help me anyways. I’m a mom of an autistic child, I don’t take my eyes off of him. I don’t sit down to eat a few bites of cake or enjoy a cheeseburger, I am following him throughout whatever room he chooses to go to next, I am right behind him..every. Single. Step. So you offering to help, doesn’t matter. Honestly, I find it hard to trust anyone other than myself. So close family members that are around him constantly are the only people I trust him with.
So why would I attend your party/event? Why would I want to put myself in this position by myself? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to because I know what I would have to go through by myself. If I don’t have those extra hands, than I don’t have enough hands. I stopped attending things because it is safer for my son. You know, my child who comes first. It’s stressful when he has a meltdown in front of people. I get nervous, mostly because it is a lot to handle, especially when nothing I do is helping.

Don’t be hurt that we didn’t show up. It’s just more important for us not to go. It’s hard for a parent of an autistic child. Plus add ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and in some cases things like anxiety, epilepsy or special diets (so they can’t eat whatever food you have anyways). Plus a child that does not understand basic communication and has a speech delay (or no speech at all). It is hard to deal with in general. So putting that child in a situation where they are just supposed to “fit” in. Doesn’t work. It doesn’t work at all.
So no, I won’t be attending any birthday parties, get together, Ugly sweater party (Christmas), dinner events or anything really. Like I said I will only attend them with help from someone who I trust. Does this make me a bad person? No, I’m putting my child first. I’m putting his needs before anything else.
The only thing that makes me is an autism parent. And a good one.

  1. This is us as well, 100%! Another part is, that ‘if’ we try to attend and somehow cannot get back to our house by a particular time (5:30) to start our son’s nightime routine, chaos follows, not just for that night but for weeks to come. We once went to a birthday party, and got home at 7:00, that made for an instant meltdown, and for the following six weeks there was a meltdown each night at the same time. We decided that going to a party/event/gathering was not worth it, and that was the last time.

  2. Totally understand! You´re definetely not a bad parent, and no one can judge you, specially when you´re doing what you think is best for your son.

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