Posted on: March 7, 2012

Been thinking about A’s 4th birthday recently, even though its only in June. I like to be organised.

I find it quite hard when it comes to birthdays and christmas – times of celebration – lots of presents and cake!

Before A was born I used to think of what birthdays and christmas’s would be like, A being excited for weeks before, writing lists as long as my arm and who he would invite to his birthday parties.

Because he has Autism these things – for us aren’t possible at the moment.
He has no understanding of birthdays and christmas & couldn’t care less about toys, not after the initial present opening, which he only just enjoys now.
There’s no list of toys for us to buy, no names of children to invite to a party – because there is no party.

A has no friends, his autism means he doesn’t socialise with others and due to his lack of communication and speech he’s unable to form relationships with his peers. So he can’t invite them to a birthday party and in return he doesn’t get invited to any parties – that’s just another part of the isolation we feel for our children.

Even though A doesn’t understand we try and make it a nice day for him.

We don’t shower him with presents that he’s not going to play with, we don’t decorate the living room too much, maybe just a few balloons as to not over stimulate him.
We don’t organise a birthday party because its to much for him to process and understand why he’s having a party, why everyone is there why they all want to see him.

At christmas we spend it with lots of family, A had lots of presents and there where games etc – A sometimes gets over excited and can’t control his emotions so he begins to be disruptive or stims (flaps, shakes) to control his anxieties the only way he knows best – so we usually end up sitting with him in a quiet room.
He spent the whole christmas afternoon sleeping last year – just receiving presents had worn him out.

I hope one day he’ll be writing lists and inviting his friends to birthday parties – but if he doesn’t we will still try our best to make the day perfect for him even if that does mean minimal fuss and lots of quiet time to avoid meltdowns.

Comments welcome as always – I’d love to hear other peoples experiences.

L x


8 Responses to "Birthdays…"

My (now 9-year-old) son couldn’t cope with parties as a smaller boy. He hated popping balloons, which left him, quite literally, trembling with anxiety. It didn’t help that other kids thought this was funny, and would pop more balloons just to make him cry. Appeals to their parents didn’t help, they thought he was “soft” and told me “he’ll get used to it”. Gah.

Now he’s older, and prides himself on coping so much better with loud noises (you’d still never get him out from under the duvet on Guy Fawkes night), and balloons don’t feature in the same way at big-boy parties. It’s getting easier. He likes parties now.

He also like presents, but with his birthday on Boxing Day, it does get a bit much! So we limit the Boxing Day gifts, and have a summer birthday for him too. That works on so many levels :o)

Z’s 6 at the end of the month & this is the first time he’s told us what he wants for his birthday, this made me so happy & needless to say we have got him what he wants ( a go-kart).
Z has also never been invited to a b’day party, it breaks my heart when i see others in his class getting invites but never Z, i wonder if he had a physical disability that you could see if he’d be left out?

We have a similar problem with C. Although he is going to be 8 on his next birthday, in July, I’m already worrying about it. For his 6th we took him and some friends bowling – his idea, his favourite thing to do at the time..he hated, tried to attack his friends, became paranoid and eventually we had to remove him from the party – it was all too much. Last year i was dreading it even more than usual. We had reached the point where he was barely being invited to parties, but if we were invited i always made sure we went…this meant us sitting outside whilst the party went on and moving away if anyone came near him, but i wanted him to at least have the chance to be there – in the hopes that one day he might join in and make a friend…he never has done and we don’t get invited anymore. He gets so sad about this as he wants friends and to go to parties, but he can’t handle it. For his 7th birthday he was adamant he had to have a party…! So, i hired the local pool for an hour with a bouncy floating thing in it! We invited 20 of his ‘classmates’, i wrote on the invitations that because C had autism we would only be at the pool, there would be no food, no cake (he hates the noise of singing happy birthday) and the party would last for an hour only. I was so worried, but no-one seemed to have a problem. The ‘party’ was fantastic! C stayed up one end swimming on his own, didn’t interact at all with anyone else and his ‘friends’ had a fantastic time swimming and playing. Noone seemed to care he wasn’t near them and he was far enough away not to be freaked out by it all, plus he got a pile of presents at the end of it all – his main aim!!
Im wondering what to do this year…id love not to have a party, but he is so desperate to be like everyone else. He has joined the Juniors now and so has a new class of children and a new load of parents to warn if we do have a party…its never ending. i still long for him to be ‘normal’ and happy and it makes me so sad that he isn’t, when he so desperately wants to be. But, we shall come up with something…so he can feel that he does fit in for a few hours…no idea what though…!

I often wonder if people who are on the outside looking in, really “get” how much effort goes into planning every tiny little thing. My grdtr loves other children but has trouble understanding social “rules” and cues. She loves having birthday parties but, like you, her parties often end with her in a quiet area because she is overstimulated and she hates people “looking” at her. Last year she wanted to invite all her classmates. We invited 20. Two came. She didn’t seem to notice the children who didn’t show up and she focused on the two who did. It turned out the children who showed up both “shared” the classroom aide and struggle with school.
When she gets invitations to a party and wants to go…. We go along and try to stay in the background. She doesn’t get a lot of invitations.
Every invitation, every holiday, every big event, requires discussion, debate, and planning. When we decide to give something a try, there is always the underlying anxiety about how things will go. We take one day at a time. Some days we take one hour at a time.

Funny, my youngest birthday is June too – she’ll be 5 this year. I have already booked a hall and some entertainers whose parties we’ve been to before – so at least I know they are ‘good’ with her. It’s worked out well because her birthday is the actual Saturday this year. I’ll be inviting the whole class and a couple of others from the other class too, but am hoping not all will say they can make it!! This will be the first party she’s had for herself – last year we cheated and shared a big party with 5 other nursery children! I’m partly dreading it – as I’ve had to book in advance, there’s every chance she will turn around on the day and want her party to be somewhere or something else. There was no point in me asking what or who she wanted as at this stage she wouldn’t really know – on the day she might, but that’d be too late then! She has had several party invites but not all have been successful (see my blog here towards bottom of post!) and the latest invite is to a whole-class cinema party… lovely to get the invite, but no way she would sit and watch anything longer than a Peppa Pig episode 🙂 There is so much more to think about than for my older NT girl, and emotionally it’s very draining. x

Reading your post brought back lots of memories. Riley is now 17. I recently wrote a post “It Can Get Better” that had some pics of BD/Xmas. If you have a minute, please have a look. I hope it gives you a little glimpse into what can happen down the road for you and your little guy.

Have yourself a great day!

Thank you, i will 🙂

I too was broken hearted for years watching T go with no party invites, brother&sisters getting them by the dozen. On 5th b-day we headed to the Circus Circus Adventure Dome on the Vegas Strip….wow overstimulated! He freaked out at the frontdoor. I pulled him to side, calmed&assured him he could leave but I pointed to the corndog stand(his fav then) and,he wanted one. Got him in the door and thro everything….1 thing at a time. He choice. He hit middle school where all kids asd or not struggle socially and I had to limit the parties to 1 a month.I also limit the length of time he attends. 2 hours. Now he can handle most parties but the good news is as a high schooler he turned down party invites cause he chooses to not be with peers who are drinking. He wants to belong but not to belong to people making bad choices!

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