Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birthday party landmines

Bitty was invited to a birthday party a couple of months ago. He's not a big fan of birthday parties even though I have taken him to a few (he gets a fair amount of invites for a guy who rarely talks about his classmates outside of school). This one was from a boy that he has known since preschool and is also on the spectrum, one of the few people he does talk about every now and then, and so I wanted to take him. I knew he'd have fun since it was a local indoor playground with lots of foam things to play on, etc.

He was anxious about the whole thing and refused to go until I stopped calling it a "birthday party" and started calling it a "pizza party" (not entirely inaccurate, considering the invitation specifically said there would be pizza). We started off on a good foot because as soon as he saw the birthday boy and his whole family were wearing Angry Birds t-shirts, he smiled and relaxed as he admired their shirts :).

Not long after that though, he went to play in the play area only to come running out SHRIEKING as if he'd seen a ghost in there. After I managed to calm him down, I went to see what had scared him so much and found the culprit.

(not the actual balloons, I was too busy comforting my little guy to take a picture at the time and didn't think to do it afterward)

Oh the horror. You couldn't see it from where I'd been standing because there was a little half-wall but when I got up close, I could see the floor inside was covered in these.


Much scarier than any ghost could be, right? I mean, those things could POP at any moment and it's loud when they do. Even a lone balloon far away but still within visual range is cause for anxiety, so you can imagine the reaction to unexpectedly finding himself surrounded by several of them.

Seriously, considering my little guy's balloon issues, it is truly a miracle that he didn't INSIST on leaving right then and there. He actually managed to get back in control and go play in another (balloon-free) area. Oh yeah, I was a proud mama. :)

He kind of kept to himself, as he often does. Not in a shy way, rather in a "I'm going to do my thing and you're welcome to play alongside me, or not I really don't care" kind of way. He's generally not much for interactive play, although his brothers are tenacious enough to force it on him at times (when they're not too busy doing big kid stuff) :).

When it was time for pizza and cake it took me a few minutes to coax him away from the foam blocks so we were the last ones in. He found a spot at a table in the middle but then he saw the cake.

An Angry Birds cake.

He didn't care about any of the birthday goings-on, all he wanted was to play with the birds and the slingshot on that cake. He kept jumping out of his chair and running up to "look" at it. Finally, frustrated with his inability to look with his eyes and not his hands, I told him he could look at it from his chair (which was halfway across the room).

Without missing a beat, he ran over and started dragging his chair over to sit next to the cake.

Sigh. The boy is too smart for his own good. One of the dads at the party chuckled at his ingenuity, "you did say he could look from his chair." I was glad no one seemed too put out by Bitty's antics... but I was relieved when they finally blew out the candles and the mom discreetly put the cake toys out of sight. After that, Bitty was fine. He covered his ears when everyone sang the birthday song, but he enjoyed some pizza and cake and then joined the other kids to play some more before it was time to go.

When it was time to go, I slowly made my way to the exit to give him time to transition and it helped. After a few preliminary attempts, he broke away from the foam blocks (again) and went on his own to get his shoes and we headed out. I asked if he had fun and he said yes. It was worth it for that :).


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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