Today is April 17. We are now more than halfway through Autism Awareness Month. And I've been absent. I haven't been doing much blogging, either here or anywhere else. The month is just flying by.
April is a crazy month for this Germantown Krom Mom. It's Big Brother's birthday month, and consequently, his birthday party month. There's school break which means having to keep my three children occupied, somehow. This year, Passover and Easter both fell in April which required various types of preparation in my house. We also have had several doctor's appointments which have had kids staying home from school. And, as I've said before, April is Autism Awareness Month.
On Sunday, we celebrated Big Brother's 7th birthday by hosting a party at Chuck E. Cheese in Gaithersburg. He chose to have his birthday party there and we really didn't have any excuse that we hadn't already used before (this wasn't the first time he asked to have his birthday party there). We had taken Ballerina and Music Man there before, mainly to see how they would react. Would they run away? Would they go into sensory overload with the games, lights, noises and crowds? Our test runs were all successful, so we went to the birthday party feeling prepared.
The twins did pretty well while we were there. There were several moments where they tried to grab someone's cupcake (from another party) and Ballerina wanted to wear Big Brother's birthday crown. We had a couple of attempts at freedom, but never near the door. And everyone seemed to have fun. So, we went home happy and relieved that things didn't go badly.
Unfortunately, the effects of being overstimulated don't necessarily show at the time. We all seem to have a tolerance for these types of things. But once that tolerance is reached, we're done. They were done! After coming home, the meltdowns began. Every time something didn't work, they would start to scream. They would try to hurt themselves. They would try to hurt Big Brother or me or their dad. They had simply had enough.
I'm not writing this to discourage an autistic child's parent from hosting a party (or even attending a party) at Chuck E. Cheese. All of my kids had a great time. I'm writing this as a reminder to all of us that none of us see the world in the same way. Children who are autistic often have a heightened sensitivity to sensory input. How this affects them, even after the moment has passed, may surprise us all.
Above is a very interesting video I found quite some time ago. It shows what a typical person sees and hears while walking down the street, and then what an autistic person sees and hears walking down that same street. It demonstrates exactly what that increased sensitivity means.
I hope everyone is having a happy Autism Awareness Month.