March 24, 2017

Why I Almost Didn't Have a Birthday Party For My Son

In our experience, autism and birthday parties don't mix very well.

The crowds, the noise, the presents. It's a lot for Kase to handle and because of all that, I decided I wasn't going to have a party for him for his 4th birthday. I think I even told my husband, my mom and my aunt that. There just wasn't going to be a birthday party and that was that.

I thought I would be doing him a favor. I thought I would be avoiding a difficult situation for him.

Then one day, it hit me. That wasn't the reason I didn't want a birthday party for him. The truth is, I was trying to avoid a difficult situation for me.

2016 was a difficult year for me. I was sad, angry, depressed, confused, jealous. It was hard for me to think about everyone coming over to celebrate our boy and him not be excited about it. It was hard to think about the kids that would come and have a great time, play together and laugh together. It was hard to think about once again being the center of attention opening his presents because he had no interest in them. I just didn't feel like I had it in me. Not this time. Not this year.

I don't think it was one specific moment that made me realize how selfish I was being. I know I had many conversations with Tyler about it and we agreed that although they are hard, birthday parties are important. Tyler absolutely changed my mind about it. He reminded me that we need to continue to allow Kase to be in situations that are out of his comfort zone. We also need to allow our families to be around Kase in those situations so they can continue to learn how he handles things and how they can help.

Something that I have just recently learned is that Kase is fine. He's more than fine. He's happy, he's healthy, he's hilarious, he loves his family, he loves life. Sure, he has some difficult moments, but he continues to learn how to cope with those. He knows that his mom and dad love him and are here for him whenever he needs us. He would have been fine with or without a birthday party.

It's me that wasn't fine. And to be completely honest, there are still times when I'm not fine. I have moments where all that guilt, sadness and jealousy comes back. But I am doing a million times better than I was last year.

We had the party and it was perfect. We surprised Kase with a bouncy house and I'm pretty sure it was the best day of his life. Our families knew he wouldn't be interested in opening presents so they all pitched in for a bigger gift for him to enjoy outside.

You can't tell from the picture, but he loved it. He was hot and hungry! And wondering when he could get back in that bouncy house!

He kept saying, "It's a 4!"
It's hard to admit having such selfish feelings. Birthday parties still stress me out and I still catch myself getting sad when all the kids are playing together and Kase is off doing his own thing. But I have to remind myself that he is fine. It's what makes him happy and that's all that matters.

I can't imagine the guilt I would have felt if we didn't have that party.

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