Monday, February 05, 2007

The party's on

I spoke with Carla's mom this morning, and any anxiety I had about Bud going to Carla's party has melted away.

I wasn't sure how to ease into the conversation, so I just plunged right in when Carla's mom answered the phone. I introduced myself and thanked her for inviting Bud to the party. I asked if she knew Bud, and she said she did.

"And," I said, not sure how to proceed, "Do you know that he's autistic?"

"Yes, I do," she answered. "I mean, I don't know what his autism means for him exactly, but... Carla really wanted... well, she invited everyone in the class, and she... I do know about his autism, and you're a much better judge of whether or not... but I think that Carla and Bud have made a really nice connection, so..."

I began to realize that she wasn't sure why I called, and that maybe "do you know that he's autistic?" might have come out sounding like "why in the world did you invite him to a party, you insensitive clod?"

"No, no..." I stammered. "I think Carla and Bud really do have a great connection. He's very fond of her and he's delighted to be invited to the party... I just... uh..."

I could hear her voice relax on the other end of the phone. "Well, as I said I'm not sure what Bud's autism means for him exactly. Carla says that sometimes noises bother him?"

"That's true. Some noises. Sometimes."

"It could be loud. We're going to have a Hawaiian-themed party and we're going to learn the hula - Carla's idea - so we'll have music, and there will be lots of kids, but it's only the kids from class, so he'll know everyone. And we'll have pizza and cake and games. I don't know how that would be for him, but if there's anything we could do to make it easier..."

"Well, he's usually pretty good about knowing his limits. I explained the party to him - that it would be at Carla's house, that lots of kids would be there, that it would be noisy - and he didn't hesitate. He really wants to go."

"That's great!"

"Do you think... Would it be okay if I stayed there with him?"

"Oh, of COURSE! I was going to suggest that. That would be great!"

"Then you can definitely count us in," I said, finally exhaling as I wrapped up the conversation. "Bud is really looking forward to it."

That's the truth. Bud really is looking forward to the party.

And, now, so am I.


Embrace Autism Mom said...

My son was invited to a party this past weekend. It was being held at a local video game arcade. I feel bad that we didn't pursue taking Samuel, but my husband had a busy weekend and I have to rely on him to watch my other 3 children. The series of questions you brought up are exactly the ones I asked when Samuel got Roy's invitation. I have never heard of Samuel mention Roy. So far (in 5 school years) the only parties we have gone to are for other autistic children. I want to take him to another party some time. He gets 3 or 4 invitations each school year. He is in second grade and I'm wondering when the invitations might end, or the friendliness of his classmates. Samuel, from what I am told, does not do much to connect with his peers.

It's nice that it will work out for Bud to go!

Sam I Am said...

Wow! It must be party time. Sam had his party and Fluffy at This Mom had his, it must be a popular month. Bud will be great. You did the right thing by calling ahead, and this mom sounds like she will do her best to make it comfortable for Bud. I hope he has a great time!!!! I understand the party anxiety all too well also!!!

Club 166 said...

I don't think you could have asked for a better conversation!

I'm happy for you. I'm sure that this is going to work out great for Bud.

KAL said...

Awesome. I can't wait to read about Bud learning the hula. So glad you made that call.

Susan Senator said...

Now I really have to meet Bud! The hula is like bellydance!

It's interesting to realize how sometimes we still hold onto disability baggage, and so nice to run into others who let us let go of it!

Mamaroo said...

This is so great. It's nice when parents of other kids are understanding and helpful, like Carla's mom seems. I bet Bud will have a fantastic time at the party!

I wanted to mention how much Roo loves Bud's pictures that he took and you have on your page. He especially loves the one of the Teletubbies. Whenever I open your page, he comes running over to sit on my lap and look at the pictures.

Lisa/Jedi said...

I have had many similar conversations over the years, particularly when it came to "play dates" (whoever coined that term...?). I found it very awkward to try to explain that I was not going to just drop my kid off & leave. Usually I said "I'll probably stay a while to see if he's ok." The one family that coped the best with this waaaay back in preschool, who made me feel comfortable & welcomed, became very good family friends that we are still close to, even though their son & Brendan haven't been in the same school since preschool.

Brendan is nearly 11 & we still have to pick & choose when it comes to parties. He's learned to enjoy Laser Quest parties, but still can't bear to go into a bowling alley or sports centre because of the noise, so that allows him to accept about half of his invitations. This has really helped us to be creative when it comes to his parties, too, which had led to enormous fun :)

Daisy said...

Carla's mom sounds like a winner. Carla does, too! I can't wait to hear how the party goes. Bud doing the hula? Awesome.

MOM-NOS said...

Yes, I have a hunch that Bud is going to LOVE doing the hula. We may end up having to invest in a grass skirt!

The party's not until the 17th, but I'll be sure to post an update!

mumkeepingsane said...

What a timely post. I've been thinking about this. Patrick has yet to recieve his first party invitation but I'm expecting one soon. I keep to have that conversation with a parent. Thank you for this. It helped with my anxiety about the situation.

kristen said...

I think that dealing with the "mainstream moms" can be harder on us than anything. I never know how much to explain or what exactly to say. It can often be uncomfortable. I feel like I don't want to "label" or make excuses for my son's behavior and yet I want to prepare him and everyone else for what he can and can't handle. Even my closest friends don't always know what to say or do. I find it very difficult.

Lisa said...

maWe were invited to a party this weekend, and it was pretty clear mid morning that Jared was not going to be able to cope. The birthday boy and his brother are friends from swimming lessons, and this is the second year that they've had the party at the casino arcade. Talk about your sensory overload. Well, Thomas (5)and I went and had a blast, he's still talking about it.

I was sad that Jared was having "meltdown morning", but it's so important that Thomas gets to fly solo sometimes. All too often, Thomas' fun gets curtailed by his brothers behavior. I was so proud of him, he even thanked the hostess!

I love it when the NT kids want to include Jared, and most often their moms are too nervous to ask us what our kids can handle, and what could be problematic.

Birthday parties used to depress me to no end, it really seemed to point out the gaps in development, but now, we're just trying to roll with it. If Jared wants to play by himself, fine, but he's included. Now, if we could only get him to stop thinking every wrapped gift is for him.

VtBudFan said...


I am a "mainstream mom" and I have asked to stay at parties and playdates for both of my NT kids. I hope you will never hesitate to ask. ALL parents do what they need to for their kids' comfort and safety!


P.S. My 9-year-old NT daughter regularly goes to play with our friends' 5-year old son with ASD. It has been good for both of them: him because it has been great practice playing with another kid (and at age 9, she can offer more predictablity and flexbility than my 5-y.o. can), and for her because it has been great practice being sensitive to the needs of another person (which she sometimes forgets to do with our own 5-y.o!). Plus, they both just have a blast!

Agent M said...

That's great! Maybe you've made a new friend too.

neil said...

I guess for us autism is something we don't hide but equally we don't shove it down people's throats either. My wife took our daughter to a six year old party last year and they sent my wife home. She wasn't able to tell them that our daughter has autism - how do you do that in front of her friends - and the next hour or so was exquisite torture while we waited for the party to end. I think the fear is that your child will have a meltdown or act inappropriately leaving everyone wondering what the hell happened. And of course phone calls like yours are never easy because there is no template for them, we are the only parents that have to make them. But it's all worth it - Party On!!!

Tera said...


Carla's party sounds like fun...and Carla and her mom sound cool, too.

Please keep us posted.

Mommyof3 said...

Mom-nos, will you learn the hula as well?


MOM-NOS said...

Mommyof3, I suppose that time will tell - but know that, at the very least, I will hula in my heart.

Jennifer said...

With playdates I simply tell them up front that I'd like to stay at least the first time as Kyle can sometimes have difficulty in new places. Simple, covers things in a generic sense. Parties are harder - but I haven't had anyone chase one of us out of one yet :o) when I've felt the need to explain, I still stay simple with 'he can have trouble in groups or with lots of noise' - generally Mom/Dad are usually happy to have me there. And I offer to help too of course.

mcewen said...

Good for you. I always think it's worthwhile giving people the benefit of the doubt and making the first move. Occasionally you get rebuffed [but that's their loss] and on the whole, it makes everything go so much smoother.

Teal said...

NT or not, I think something's wrong if the birthday child's parents say that another parent can't stay at a party. My kids are 9 and 12, and in all of the years of birthday parties they've attended, only one parent told me I'd have to leave. It was at a paint your own pottery place with extremely limited space, so the place's policy for parties was that only only the birthday child's parents can stay. I wasn't familiar enough with the famliy to feel comfortable leaving my daughter there, so I solved the problem by sitting a few tables away, and becoming a customer by painting my own piece. The bottom line is that you really should trust your instincts. If your inner voice says that you should not leave your child in the care of another adult, then don't do it, and don't feel guilty, either.

kyra said...

yay!! yippeee! I'M relieved and excited! i can't wait to hear about it. we are so not there but i am living it through you guys. one day i'll be living it in our life.

Professor said...

Oh, that's just wonderful. What a breakthrough moment. Off to read about the party.