Two words gave me great pause today.
I considered the invitation. It was to a Christmas party by some church members. I had just been saying how much I wanted to go to one with a White Elephant gift exchange, and they were doing just that! This would be fun!
With my kids?
I considered the source. The party was put on by a couple without children. They probably thought that they were being nice. Not having children of their own, their house was not likely to have any child-proofing. Going alone with three kids, I would probably spend the entire time trying to keep them from breaking anything, hearing “oh, they’re okay” from the hosts, and then the inevitable sound of something breaking. Not ideal. I’ve been there and done that. It’s been two years since that invite.
On the other hand, maybe they knew what they were doing. Maybe their house was child-friendly. Maybe my kids could sit there, happily playing while I had some adult time.
What about Buddy?
Awhile back, Autism Speaks came out with a horrible ad. In it, mothers cry and discuss killing their autistic children. Mothers bemoan going out in public with their autistic child, saying they are practically housebound for fear their freak children will cause a disturbance. I despise this ad; I cried when I first saw it. I love taking Buddy places and seeing his reaction to different things. I have very often and openly spoken against Autism Speaks. My child is not a burden; his being autistic is not a reason to be housebound or to kill myself. He is an amazing child, and I am blessed to have him.
A Christmas party in someone’s home? It makes me think.
I picture a lot of people in one space. Children being loud. Adults laughing and talking. Food he likely won’t eat. It’s also after school, which I have learned tires him out; the best thing to do is to stay home, or he gets cranky. There will be presents he can’t open, then watch as people take his present from him. It will mess with his routine. It will delay dinner and his bedtime.
Maybe this couple is prepared for kids. Maybe they’ll have toys and movies and games. But are they prepared for a kid like Buddy? Will they have a quiet space for him to retreat to? Will they have their food locked away? Can I handle all three kids, even if he starts melting down?
I could stay home. I could leave the kids with a sitter.
Or I could go and educate everyone about what it can be like to have an autistic child.
Despite what Autism Speaks thinks, I don’t put my life on hold. I DO alter it. We will go. I will bring food in case there’s nothing he can or will eat. I will bring something for him to play with and his headphones in case it’s loud. If there’s an issue, I’ll explain why. If it becomes too much, we’ll leave. I refuse to punish my family because people are not educated.
Then again, knowing Buddy, we could go and have a perfect time.