Thursday, 10 November 2016

The only one not invited


Guest Post

There was a flutter of excitement in the house when the invitation was posted through the door.

It would be a chance to wear our party clothes, play games, eat party food and head home with a prized party bag. This is what childhood is about - a few hours where the day-to-day rules are relaxed, when you can have your fill of fun and cake! Plus, I would have the chance to catch up with everyone on the street as it has been a few months since we all met up together.

I was disappointed that our son was not invited but I was OK with as he is much older than your daughter and I guessed that you were just inviting the children who were a similar age. Plus it would be a lovely chance for our daughter, who is so shy, to make friends with some of the other girls on our street.

As we left the house, our son asked where we were going and wanted to know why he couldn't come. I had to lie to him. I told him that his sister had been asked to go on a play date. I know I shouldn't lie to my kids, but I knew how upset he would be if he knew the truth. He wouldn't be as understanding I was about why our daughter was invited, and not him.

Walking into the house, the sound of laughter floated through the air and I could see how much effort you had put into arranging the perfect day for your little angel. The children were so happy, running around without a care in the world. Every child from our part of the street was there.

Everyone but our son. Our son who was sitting at home with the childminder. Our son who wanted to know why he couldn't go to your house with his sister, who hasn't been invited to a party herself in almost two years. The reality and emotions hit me with full force, I asked the other mums to keep an eye on our daughter whilst I quickly popped back home to collect something.

What I needed to collect was my composure - I didn't want to make a scene in the middle of the party and I didn't want to drag our daughter away from the fun she was having. I barely held on till I made it out the front door, by the time I got back to my house I was sobbing so hard I battled to breathe. The pain around my heart was almost crippling as I cried for our son and the many times he has missed out.

I know his autism has meant that we struggled in the past and that he isn't always the easiest in social situations, but we continue to try work with him to show him how to behave in these situations. You know that he is coping so much better than he did last year. He so wants to make friends and join in the fun - he just doesn't know how to. What better opportunity than amongst our neighbours who know what we have struggled with and have always said they are there for us.

My mind had only one question - WHY?

Why couldn't you have included him? Why didn't you talk to me about any concerns you had? Why did you invite our daughter when you weren't inviting our son? Why couldn't you anticipate how leaving him out would make us feel?

We have faced so many struggles with school and finding our way to help our son with the many challenges that autism has added to his life. This was a challenge I didn't expect we would need to face - not being included by the people around us.

I wish I was more courageous and that I knew what to say to you so that you could understand how much son being included would have meant to us. I hope that in years to come you will figure it out for yourself, as I know I will never have the words to tell you myself. Next year I hope that you will consider son's name when writing up your guest list.



I have so much empathy with this guest post and I'm honoured to share it with my readers. We have experienced something similar many times.  There are a few things that may help an autistic child attend one of your birthday parties.  

  • Giving the family plenty of notice when possible allows them to prepare the child for the event.  For many children with autism simply knowing what is going to happen will help them relax and have a good time too.  
  • Letting the family know what's planned to happen at the party; what will happen first, will there be a cake, what games are you hoping to play, will there be music? This can help with planning and spot anything that they might need to prepare for in particular.  
  • It can also help to know who or how many people are going. Again, this helps an autistic child  understand what's going to happen and this can make them feel safe and comfortable. 
  • We also love it when people say 'You can stay for just the parts you like' or 'There is another room you can sit in when you need to'.  This means we can scoot out if things become overwhelming.  

These are just a few things that we have found help us.  If you have any questions about inviting a child with autism to a party, please do not hesitate to get in touch... or even better just ask their parents.  I'm sure they would be delighted to talk about it.  If you are the parent of an autistic child - please feel free to add tips for birthday parties in the comments too.  

If you have a story you would like me to share on your behalf, please do not hesitate to contact me

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28 comments:

  1. This is so insensitive and hurtful and reminds me of a time my parents' friends lied to them no kids were invited to a party only to find lots were, just not my brother and I. Perhaps they didn't know how to broach the party/ask questions with you but this was not the way. I'm so sorry to you all. Know that not everyone would behave this way x

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    1. It is a shame. Thanks for commenting

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  2. My heart goes out to you. People need to be more sensitive.

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    1. It's a guest post but as I say we have experienced similar events. Thanks for your support

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  3. Oh my gosh what an awful experience as a mother that must have been, I agree with your question Why?

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    1. I hope it's just a lack of understanding. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Knowing your child is being socially excluded is a painful experience. I really liked the tips you gave at the end of this post. My son went to an inner city primary school and not many kids in his year had birthday parties so he didn't go through the regular experience of being that kid who didn't get an invite which I think would have been awful. As he's got older he's been invited to a few parties and provided he knows what the plan is they have worked well. He's often just gone to part of a party rather than the whole thing and he will come home rather than sleepover at a friends hous. #SpectrumSunday

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  5. It's not always because the kid is autistic. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the child. Sometimes it has to do with the overbearing mom who plays the "autism" card in every and all conversations. Most of the time we'd love to include all the kids but can't deal with the mom

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  6. Thank you for your comment. I talk autism a lot. I don't mean to offend. You are absolutely right.. it may not be because the child is autistic. In all honesty I'd prefer that it wasn't. Much better that it was me.. I could learn to change if I know about it. My son will not grow out of his autism though and he shouldn't have to.



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  7. This breaks my heart & I know it's common. Our local Archery club have made themselves 'all inclusive', one of the Mums cried when they joined as she said her son never got into any other club. Great idea to include helpful tips in this post.

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    1. Thanks, I hope people find them helpful. Please add more here if you know if any.

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  8. Sorry to see your sad experience, some people always do not do a good job.

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  9. I can see this is a guest post. Whoever the author may be, my heart goes out to you. I feel your pain. I would never do that to you. xx

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    1. I'm sure your support is appreciated. Thank you.

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  10. Bless you, we have a lovely lad at my childrens school that has autism. He comes to my sons parties and we make sure his mum is always on the adult list so she can help if he needs some normality for him. It is so sad that adults can be so hurtful...even unintentionally.

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  11. We have experienced this with our daughter which is on the autistic spectrum. The back of our home leads out onto some playing fields. Our neighbour two doors down had a big birthday party on the playing fields for her daughter. Her daughter is in my daughters class and they play together at school. Most of her class mates where invited inc all that lived along our road. When my daughter looked out her bedroom window right in front of her was a bounce castle, her friends from school and lots of games happening. She and so where we confused why she was not invited. As this is public land her Father said oh we will just take a little walk .... past the party i might add. In this way other people saw and recognised him and my daughter. He went over to chat and one thing lead to another and my daughter had gate crashed her first party. The reason for a non invite was she forgot. We live two doors down which she passes everyday. So moving on a few months later it was my daughters birthday and I asked who would she like to invite. She said this same said girl from two doors down.Said family where very keen to attend first to reply, wow!! Two days before she cancels as her husband has to work away. This is very strange as the party is only 5min walk from our house and other logistics just do not add up. After returning home from the party as we get to our door who pulls up two doors down. The husband. OMG!!! I still see this lady everyday she is one of the most nicest smiliest ladies on the block.

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    1. It can be difficult. I like to think most of the time it's just misunderstandings.

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  12. I have a 4 year old boy on the autism spectrum. The situation you describe is something I dread when he is older. At the moment he is does not realise that he does not get invited to parties, but he will in time. He only gets invited to parties of mums I am friends with or he has been to a whole preschool class party. The Anonymous poster shows a lack of empathy. I feel the need to explain my son's behaviour (in addition to talking to him and trying to manage his behaviour at the time) so people don't just think he is being "naughty". Also, when mychild is having a meltdown in a situation where other kids would not typically do so I get (understandably) upset and stressed and probably annoyingly overshare.

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    1. It can be very emotional as a mum watching a meltdown -if you search 'shoe' on my blog you will find a post I did about a meltdown over a shoe. It was exhausted and draining to help him. But hopefully if we tell people about it then they may understand and it will help to change perceptions. Hugs.

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  13. i would not have allowed my daughter to go, by allowing you daughter to go the party you participated in the discrimination of your son.

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  14. Thank you to your guest for sharing. I know there are times we don't always get invited but try and embrace the times we do and I hate to use the word fortunate that we get them as I think they are fortunate to have Joseph in their lives too but I am glad that people choose to include us. I know you commented on my post before :-) #SpectrumSunday http://josephamazingspectrumcoat.com/2016/09/25/to-the-parents-teachers-and-children-who-include-my-son

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  15. What a heartbreaking guest post. So far, I haven't had much experience of either of my boys being left out due to their autism. Tyger is very good at masking in front of others, though. I have seen other children treating him slightly differently and I know even at the age of four it's something he's aware of because he's brought it up with me before. And that's upsetting - really upsetting - as a parent.

    Hopefully, we're getting to a point where people are more and more aware of autism and all SEND and are becoming more willing to make the effort to understand and help.

    #SpectrumSunday

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  16. Oh gosh this is heartbreaking :( to invite one sibling and not the other, autism or not is a gorrid thing to do. I really feel for this mother. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

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  17. This is so unfair yet I've heard similar stories from people I know with their autistic kids being excluded from certain functions. I'm lucky we've never experienced this sort of treatment but I know I would be gutted too if we did. I'm so, so sorry to read this.

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  18. This is an interesting read for me as my kids are too little to get invited anywhere yet (24m and 6m) The optimist in me says that kids invite their friends and siblings weren't invited full stop. But the realist in me also tells me some people just don't know how to handle autism so they ignore it. And families have to suffer the consequences. It's made me think about how to ensure any parties I do have in the future will be inclusive to everyone. I love that your guest poster has explained some of the considerations. If anything, I've learnt from this post that conversations need to be open and honest to help the families plan ahead and anticipate the day. Thanks for sharing this guest post and opening my eyes. Xx

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  19. Oh that really is awful! I am used to my kids not being invited but never everyone else including their siblings like that!

    I have a post on helping those with sensory processing at parties - from the host and individual's point of view. How nice for you to guest post it - I hope the writer has the confidence to ask the party host why?

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  20. Such a well written post :) we have experienced similar with our daughter (4) it is heart wrenching x

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  21. We haven't been invited to any parties yet but I genuinely don't know if that is because there haven't been any, just chance, or we have actually been excluded. I don't think I want to know! This is so sad because I know it is in our future. Kindness is so easy - I'll never understand people who do such hurtful things. #SpectrumSunday

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I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

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