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To Party or Not to Party? September 1, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, Family, Health.
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To party or not to party? That is the question.

And the answer is not so easy when you have a child with autism to consider.

Picture this. You’re invited to a major end of summer bash at your cousin’s home. She married a surgeon and the backyard is a breathtaking oasis. There’s a steel drum band. Wait staff are everywhere. Paradise, right?  Well…

My son is normally comfortable here, but today there were 140 people there he didn’t know. Knowing the crowd that was expected, I arrived early so the party could build around him. (Walking into that mob once the party was in full swing would not have been an option.)

He went right for the pool, where he remained for four straight hours (it was heated)! So, he surely wasn’t the fish out of water that we often worry he’ll feel like, or look like.

But we were! 

My husband and I were the fish out of water. Imagine the two of us, at all times either in the pool with our son or sitting beside it with our feet in the water. The party is developing around us. Throngs of people are arriving.  Suddenly, about 2 hours later, it hit me. None of the other adults were in the water –or even wearing bathing suits!

Everyone gathered around  the pool, mojitos in one hand and coconut shrimp in the other. Full makeup, fancy hair, high heels, and jewels on this hot day. And there I was. The “white trash” mom who didn’t realize the pool was for the kids. The one who came and left in her bathing suit and flip-flops, no makeup, no hairdo (other than the “do” my son gave me in the water) and no jewels other than a shell ankle bracelet my daughter made me. (Thank God I brought the “good” beach towels!)

I love my cousin and her husband. They are incredibly generous and down-to-earth, have earned the excesses they enjoy, and they come from loving, grounded families. They didn’t disappear from our life when the diagnosis came along.  They have some great friends.  Others, well…let’s just say they’re not as down-to-earth.  

Sometimes, its so hard to decide whether a party is worth attending. On one hand, you are happy –even grateful–for the invitation (since invitations can be scarce) and you want to have an opportunity to help your child socialize. But of course, you worry about whether the function will be too stimulating for your child and whether he may get disruptive. And that fear can be worsened if you have another “typical” child there who may be uncomfortable if a scene occurs.

So you consider your options, make a decision, and make your exit plan–you’ve gotta  have an exit plan!  Then, you show up with your homemade cake, and hope for the best. And if the party gods are looking down at you favorably that day, your son will have a good time. Today, mine did.

So what if had a bad hair day?

Party on…

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