The Roc loves parties.
He loves to go to them, to make up pretend parties for his little people and stuffed animals at home, and lately everything we do is a party. In the last week we’ve had a few pasta parties, a pool party, a hiking party, a waterfall party, a slumber party, a calzone party, and a family dinner party.
Last year we had a small party here at our house for the Roc’s birthday. I invited one of my high school girlfriends to bring her family and my sister came with her family. It was the first party the Roc had where children he wasn’t related to were invited.
He loved it.
This spring he went to a party at Pump It Up and soon after started asking when he could have a Pump It Up party of his own.
Because we were leaving on a road trip to Colorado on his actual birthday we decided having a Pump It Up party a couple days before we left would be a perfect alternative to having people over to our house.
My pen hung over the paper when I sat down to make a list of the Roc’s friends to invite to the party. He does not have friendships the way other children his age do. He has his cousins, and I am lucky enough to have some great friends who have equally great kids. Who would we invite? I asked the Roc this question and he said his cousins. He couldn’t give me any other names. I wrote to a few of my friends about this, the ache of sitting there, pen poised and ready. Then I realized that the Roc was slowly making connections. He really enjoyed one of the boys in his summer social skills group, and he had a great time with a little girl from swimming lessons, (whose mother is really awesome) and he does have a friend from school. I sent out the invites and waited, and everyone responded yes! The Roc could hardly contain himself on the day of his party. Waiting until the evening was torture for him.
I decided not to say anything about the Roc’s autism diagnosis unless it became necessary. He was so excited for the party and because he had been there a few months ago, he knew what to expect and we had talked at length about the order of the evening. I figured the couple high school aged kids who were in the party rooms with us wouldn’t really have a connection to autism and what that meant for the Roc.
I was worried that I made a mistake when the Roc was called up and everyone was told to yell “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” at him. He stood frozen and I could tell he was shocked and not pleased. I held my breath and willed him to hold himself together.
His unease was put aside when they were led into the first room. He jumped, and slid,
I also got to have a no accidents moment when I spoke with the young lady in the above picture. I finally did mention the Roc being on the autism spectrum when I needed to make sure things would go as the Roc expected in the party room – first pizza, then cake, then presents. She told me she had momentarily wondered about the Roc as she has an older brother on the spectrum. We talked a bit about how her brother was when he was younger, similar, yet very different from the Roc. We talked about what he is doing now, entering his sophomore year at college after attending a year of a transition program and community college. He will be majoring in music. I pressed my tongue against the roof of my mouth and held back my tears.
She was wonderful with the Roc and she gave me an unexpected gift that evening.