This is probably going to be a bit long because I really just feel the need to gush about how happy I am after today. It's hard to explain what Sean's birthday party meant to me today. Sean responded much better than I dared to hope he would respond to it and that gives me so much hope that now I can finally start giving him the happy childhood that I feared I'd never be able to give him. Sure, I've been able to do some small things that the kids enjoy. But those really big joyful memories that I had as a child that I wanted to recreate for my children, like Christmas morning finding presents under the tree, Easter Egg hunts, Halloween parties, and birthday parties, have all been a total bust. Like, just take Christmas for an example (that's been the worst). First of all, I can't explain anything about the holiday to them in any way they can understand. I can put out a nativity scene, Santas, and within the past three years I've finally been able to put out a Christmas tree without them destroying it. But none of those things signify anything special to them. Although they do get really excited about the lights on the tree, and they like the goodies that I bake, but that's it. Any party we get invited to would freak them out because of all the people and noise. I can't get them to anticipate the holiday. And before we learned to finally give up and lower our expectations, Chrstmas mornings started out with them getting upset because we messed up their morning routine. Then they were either uninterested with the toys completely or they did things like turn cars upside down and obsess over the spinning wheels or find the sound source on electronic toys and put their ears up to it. No joy in the experience whatsoever. We finally learned to start giving them things like bubble wrap to pop and candy. That at least made them smile. And occasionally as they got older we'd find a toy they liked. But still, it's not like those magical Christmas mornings that David and I remember as kids.
But things are turning around now! And it's thanks to their wonderful teachers/therapists. The thing is, they don't just teach the kids learning skills, they actually put a whole lot of time and effort into teaching the kids how to enjoy life. They take them to restaurants, have birthday parties, bring "Santa" to school with presents, and in their own ingenious way they teach them what all of these things mean and that they mean fun! My kids are new there, but all of their classmates that were having a blast at Sean's party had been trained how to have fun at birthday parties after many such class birthday parties. The head therapist told me that all of these kids had the exact same problems with parties and holidays that mine did, some of them more so, but they just needed the right environment and behavior therapies to learn what other kids learn naturally. Now all of them look forward to holidays and birthdays and have long lists for Santa! :)
And the little bit they've been able to work on with my kids really paid off today! I was nervous at first. When Sean first saw the party room he shrunk down into a chair. And it looked like he really didn't get why we were pushing presents into his hands at first. He seemed more concerned that we hadn't let him finish his Dr. Pepper first. But after about the third present, he really started catching on! He had a huge grin on his face the whole rest of the time. And boy, everyone sure gave him some nice gifts, that certainly helped. And the theme I picked was a huge hit! Not only was Sean really happy, but all the boys (they were mostly boys. Only two girls) were ecstatic over it and they were all talking about their favorite turtles. And the big TMNT backdrop that I brought so that the kids could have their pictures taken in front of it was a surprise hit. All the boys had a blast doing ninja poses in front of it for their pictures. That was so cute! Lol And I noticed how all the enthusiasm from his classmates really started to work on Sean and he really got into the spirit of things. And the teachers were right on top of even the smallest problematic behaviors that might have made the whole thing go south and diffused them right away. (Those women really are a wonder to watch in action) And of course, he loved my cake! Heehee And this party place had a nice little arcade. Elliot loved the air hockey, and I taught Sean how to play Ms. Packman. :) Then when the boys and I got home, I turned on TMNT (what else?) and started to get the toys out of the packages. I have never been able to get the boys interested in action figures, even of characters they really like. But Sean took to his new Raphael action figure right away! He kept looking at the show and then back at the figure and smiling and giggling...and now I've just made myself cry!.. It's like thie party sparked a new sense of fun in Sean or something. He didn't put down that toy for hours either. And he seemed overwhelmed with everything at first, but he's been slowly going through his other toys and enjoying them. Especially the Nerf gun I got him. :)
And after this experience, I have so much hope for the holidays. I've shared all my concerns with the teachers and they have assured me that based on how well both of my kids are responding, they will be able to prepare them for fun holiday experiences this year. They say it will probablly take about two years to teach them how to anticipate birthdays and holidays and get them to fully understand what's going on, but even now they can learn to enjoy themselves. And I know that's true after what I saw today!... And now I am SO fired up for Halloween now, that I feel like a kid again! I asked the teachers about a Halloween party and they said that one of the kids has a birthday around Halloween and every year they do a Halloween party for him with the class. So I volunteered to make some spooky treats! And decorate! :D They said that after today I might end up being their cake and treat person from now on because of how much the kids loved my cake.:) (Hey, I made a gluten free cake from scratch that pleased a room full of autistic kids. Don't tell me I'm not a baking rock star! Lol) That's fine with me, parties are my excuse to bake my heart out. And I remember the Halloween birthday kid. He was the same one who was pestering the hell out of me for more cake. Lol So, the first treat I know I must make for his party is Halloween cupcakes using the same exact cake recipe that I used for Sean's cake. I'll think of other things too, but that one is a must... So I'm just buzzing with anticipation about all the fun I'm going to be able to create now for the coming holidays. And Elliot's birthday in November. I've been waiting to do this stuff for a long time! I'm probably going to be pretty obnoxious about holiday and birthday stuff now. But that just can't be helped. ;)