A Doodle-Kind of Party

We had a small birthday party for the Doodle on Saturday.  I am always torn on whether or to have one or not.  It's not so much that he won't miss it if we don't have it--it's more a guilt thing.  I always had parties for Jimmy's birthday and still do.  So why should it be any different for the Doodle?  Right?  I worry though.  I worry about him getting over stimulated and it not being a good experience for him, or anyone involved...

But he was fine. Really good actually.  Only a couple of melt downs and issues with Doritos.  He had a lovely Thomas the Train Birthday Cake and loved-loved-loved blowing out the candles...a couple of times.  He would clap and get so excited!  It was hard not to do it again. And again.  People were nice and obliged the singing of that song a couple of times. 

My favorite part of the party was watching the Doodle finally drink out of a big boy cup.  He loves drinking out of a cup now and for the first time ever he is drinking juice!  Now when he drinks out of a cup he wants the whole family to clap.  He takes a drink, puts the cup down and claps and he gets pretty cranky if people aren't showing their support and clapping along.  So he was drinking out of his cup and clapping for himself and the whole party was clapping with him and cheering him on.  He was so happy and I was so proud.  Then it dawned on me...he's FIVE and finally drinking out of a cup.  I looked at a few of his little cousins faces and they looked confused as to why this would be such a big deal since they've been drinking out of a cup for years and no one ever made a big thing about it.  But that's OK.  When the Doodle hits a milestone, no matter how far behind he might be--it makes it that much more special for Us.  And we celebrate.  And we clap.

So I had a small gathering.  I decided not to invite a big crowd of my friends with kids who would come out of pure obligation or even worse, dream up the perfect excuse as to why they couldn't make it.  I kept it to just a few of his cousins and his only two "friends".  I figured that the family and cousins would have to come; after all, they are legally bound to come since they are family; and then also his only two little friends from school (which I am friends with their mom's) and guess what?  Neither showed up.  Thankfully, the Doodle didn't miss them.  He didn't know I invited them and it's not like his feelings got hurt; for me, one of the only positive things I've found so far about autism. 

I tried not to be irritated, offended or take it personally...after all, I have a child with autism and both of these people have a five year old child with autism so who would understand more than me about not wanting to take my autistic child to a party of all places???  I get it.  I completely get it. 

But as I thought about it more and more--it bothered me more and more.  If ever you were going to take an autistic child to a party, wouldn't you want to be in like-minded and similar company?  Wouldn't you feel more than comfortable taking your child with his/her unique behaviors and characteristics associated with autism and feel accepted and understood at another autistic child's party?  Wouldn't you, for once, feel like it was OK and you weren't being judged?  That's the part that bothers me.  If I can't count on my friends without children with special needs to understand what This is like...and I can't count on my friends with children of special needs to get it, who can I count on? 

I think it's time for some new friends.

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