The Party

Filed Under (Acceptance, Adam) by Estee on 22-04-2013

Adam had his 11th birthday party this past weekend. He has grown so much the past year, like a bamboo shoot – thin and taller. I always throw a party for Adam…it is our normal, perhaps your “quirk-fest.” No matter, it’s our world; somehow we make a space for ourselves.

This year, I booked his favorite place where he learns trampoline. He is getting quite good at it (with a dedicated coach). I thought he’d like to show off his new skills, and indeed he did. Every year as well, I invite autistic children with one or two typical children. There’s always someone new we get to meet – school never seems to be a stable place over the years so we end up meeting new people all the time.

One year, I had a company bring in snakes and animals – the kids loved to be able to touch them and watch them move. Another year I did an art party. This year, a place where children could partake in circus arts. And every year, I will always hear from a parent that this is their autistic child’s first birthday party – that their “typical” children will get invitations all the time, but not the autistic kids. I suppose this makes me feel more resolute to keep having “autistic parties” – in fact, I prefer autistic children. I find them easier to get along with and grateful, even if this is not demonstrated with verbose thank yous. I love inviting children to play in the yard and I’ve become quite familiar with “difference” that I don’t expect children to behave in a particular way. One can feel contentment.

It’s as if we are living on an island and people come to visit, but never enough. Adam loves when I invited my friends over. Most days he’ll play and giggle and then he has the option of taking his own time outs when he needs them. I think a lot, however, of how we can’t get through a day without having to explain ourselves out there “in the world,” without being evaluated and observed, but this doesn’t happen with our friends. Friendship is when you don’t have to explain any more. I try to imagine how autistic people and others with intellectual disabilities feel with having to try to explain themselves, or try to be understood, day in and day out. As a typical person, this is hard enough.

I got an email this morning from one of the mom’s. She said that her guy smiled all the way home after the party. That’s all I want, and I imagine, all that Adam wants too – an opportunity to show off, be able to do something well, and most of all, to be invited to the party. We all want to be happy that we made the effort, and ultimately accepted without question.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.