Oliver got invited to a couple of party’s last year, early in the year before people knew he was autistic. He got a couple of invites after people knew, and I will love those parents forever. However this year has been very different, I’ve watched the invites going out, kids getting excited receiving them and talking about what will happen, what they’ll wear etc. Now I know it’s fair enough, kids grow and get a circle of friends and my son isn’t in those groups, he has a couple of friends but is not popular in the same way. Just before Christmas a little girl was handing out invites and came up to Oliver and said “mum where’s Oliver’s invitation?” The mother blushed, looked through the envelopes and said “oh we must have left it at home” the child said they remembered everyone else’s in the class which made the mother blush even more. She said to me that she’d bring it tomorrow. Surprise surprise no invite appeared. Now it’s up to her who she invites but what annoyed me was the sham. I know my son is not wanted at these things, he spins around and amuses himself and doesn’t understand the musical statues rules so just dances and dances. I also understand not wanting someone potentially disruptive there, someone who is being left behind by the “normal” kids. I understand that, and I understand that kids get excited and talk in front of him about their social events. he doesn’t know yet that he’s not one of them, but I have to admit it hurts a little.
A few days before term ended a little boy was giving out invites and Christmas cards, he came running up to us and gave us envelopes which I put in my pocket for him to open when we got home. We opened them at home and he had a Christmas card and an invite! Not only that but Popples was invited too. The kids have been in the same class for 2 years and you know how it is at pick up time, you get chatting to other parents and I’ve spoken to his dad regularly and his littlest used to run round with Popples last year whilst waiting for the boys to finish. I collared his dad a couple of days later and thanked him for the invite for both of them and said they’d love to come if he was sure about the invite. He said it’s just at a soft play area and there’ll be cakes and a few games “if he wants to join in. If he doesn’t he can just play”. He knows Oliver is autistic, he’s heard the escape stories, he’s heard about the outbursts, he’s heard about “how hard Oliver tries, daddy. He can’t even talk but he tries and tries and tries” and his son still wanted to invite him. I don’t want Oliver to be anyones focus as it’s not his day, so after talking to his folks, I’m going to stay. Not hovering. I’ll take a book and sit by the door, in case of escape, and be on hand- just in case. I’ll sit round the corner from the party so they won’t see me but I’ll be there – just in case.
Some kids are so thoughtful and generous and see past the barriers or don’t see the barriers. I wonder when this changes or even if it changes for some people. The world through a child’s eyes seems so simple – they are in my class, they must be like me, they might be my friend. When does it change? Do the differences get pointed out? My 3 year old doesn’t even recognise her half siblings are brown. When we were drawing them, the thing she pointed out was “I need a brown crayon to do Max’s eyes” not his skin colour. The little boy at school knows Oliver is different cos he can’t talk- but it doesn’t matter to him, or his other friends like Savannah, or Grace or Leon. He’s still his friend.
Like I said, I’m not asking everyone to change to accommodate my son, it’s my issue to deal with- him being left behind, but I am hoping that he will keep a couple of friends through school. Just a couple…….or even one.