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Monday, March 05, 2012

Birthday Girl

Birthdays for kiddos with autism are tricky. Everyone wants to get together and celebrate, but that kind of intense, mass social interaction can be stressful for the kid. And trying to get straight answers from said kid about what they really want to do can be impossible.

My first idea was to take her to each of the grandparent's houses, make it several discrete, small celebrations.

As we got closer to the day, it seemed Mo wanted to have more of a conventional party. I thought about her sister's birthday the month before, a joint operation with the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster, involving pretty near everyone from both sides of the family. I didn't do a great job of preparing Mo for it, and when all her peeps descended on the house all at once, she beat a hasty retreat.

As hard as it is to figure out the right way to handle these things, the one thing Mo was unambiguous about was the color of birthday cake she wanted. A chocolate cake of course, but red. Red frosting sounds easy enough, but red food dye makes pink frosting.

Pink until you've used a full bottle of red food coloring and two tubes of red gel. It quits being pink anyway, though I thought it was more magenta than red in the end.

Everything went pretty well until it came time to blow out candles and open presents. Here is where autism gets tricky. Positive excitement can seem overwhelming, the social stimulation overblown. When Mo retreated before we could do cake and presents, I wasn't sure what to do with the whole situation.

I went up and tried to talk her into it twice, but she didn't want to come downstairs. I asked if she was happy to see her people, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc., and she said yes. When I asked if she thought it was too much downstairs I didn't get an answer, but I may not have parsed my words well enough to get the question across.

Finally, I asked her, "Do you just want everyone to go home so you can get back to your routine?"

"Yes!" she said.

"Well," I said. "They came to see you blow out your candles and open your presents. They can't leave until you do that, right?"

It worked. She came downstairs, couldn't wait for us to light the cake. She blew out candles, opened presents and then seemed to acclimate to the whole party. She ate some cake and ice cream, pulled up some YouTube videos, and generally relaxed and had a good time.

1 comment:

AML said...

awesome cake is it DIY cake preparations? It looks wonderful to see it baby will be happy with monster cake..