With each year comes the reality that we are getting farther and farther away from the edge of autism. I don’t know if we will actually be completely free of it but we have come a long way. We always have reminders that my son is different in some ways and he may always be.
Normally we have a family party for his birthday. We abandoned kids parties years ago. He attended probably two of them in his life aside from cousins birthdays and he didn’t really enjoy it. His own parties have always been unpredictable for us and we never knew how he might handle it that day. Sometimes he did well for most of the party but by the time we done with opening gifts he couldn’t take it anymore and he’d go in his room and close the door. Leaving his party guests to carry on without him. Over the years our family became accustomed to this because they realized he couldn’t help it. Other years he mostly cried like when he was a year old. He didn’t like the guests, the food, the noise…none of it.
This year was a new leaf for him. He was turning 10 and began fifth grade. He wanted a say in what kind of birthday he had this time. He chose to skip a party altogether. As sad as this was for me because I enjoyed celebrating each birthday with my children as a joyous occasion, I realized it wasn’t joyous for him. And it was his birthday.
So instead of having a party, I asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate. He chose to attend a football game with his dad, have a cookie cake and go shopping with his birthday money to pick out what he wanted. See for him, surprises are bad things and he’d rather you not wrap his gifts at all. I was skeptical and still a bit let down that I wasn’t throwing the traditional party for him. But I did decorate and make him an awesome gf cookie cake.
I took pictures at Toys R Us as he ran around picking out what he wanted to buy with his money. He had the time of his life at the game with dad. He said this was his best birthday ever!
We had some issues with him not wanting me to take pictures of him blowing out his candles because he hates to be photographed. I too shared this dislike most of my life so I don’t attribute that to his Asperger’s.
But being 10 now, is a reminder that my son is that much closer to needing to be independent and take care of himself. Something that seems to come harder for him than neurotypical children. He seems to retain an innocence that lets him play matchbox cars happily by himself and enjoy Legos. An innocence that seems to be gone from neurotypical 10 year olds. Sometimes when I see him playing quietly with his vehicles or building amazing ships with his Lego’s I wonder if that is one of the gifts he was given despite what autism took from him? It is hard to see the positives among so much negative but we have to constantly remind ourselves that he is not defined by his diagnosis. He is our son and he has many gifts to share with the world.