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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Special Saturday and the first party!

Today is #specialsaturday, a day when lovely people try and raise awareness of special needs by posting on a website proud stories or thoughts about our special needs children or others we know or work with. 

I have contributed, and am including it here as I don't think I've said it directly in my blog before :

Our 3 year old girl has autism. Mild/high functioning, with speech
delay, whatever you want to call it, she is different. She is probably
one of the few non-bilingual children who could count up to 10 in
Spanish at the age of 3 (thanks Dora the Explorer!). She has just sung
her version of Baa Baa for me whilst sitting on my knee and given me a
cute bow as I clapped her. We love her so much – just as much as our
other ‘non-autistic’ daughter! A challenge, certainly, and lots more
of those to come, but she’s opened our eyes up to so much more in
life.

Nobody really has life easy, and nobody really know what is going on
in other people’s lives. So next time you judge, please stop and
think. Nobody is perfect, and everybody is different.

Today was an interesting and tiring one for me. It was the first party which Sasha has been to that was not for her older sister; the first party she's been invited to directly. Another emotional moment, because as Sasha does not relate directly to her peers very often and so does not really form friendships due to her autism, she is likely to get less party invites than the 'nice' children in her class. Totally understandable, I don't expect anyone to invite her on a pity count, but a little sad nonetheless. More so for me than her, certainly at this stage, as she barely understands whose party it is anyway let alone who invited her, but as she gets older and is more aware it will certainly get trickier to explain. 

So this was a blanket invite to the whole nursery class including the 10 children who started new in January (which Sasha was one of). Around 40 three/four year old children were there, and one entertainer dressed up as a funky fairy. Now she did a pretty good job of keeping around 39 of the children entertained, but from the second we entered the large (fortunately!) hall, all Sasha was really interested in was the balloons. And mainly the pretty balloons on ribbons which were being used as the table decorations. There were around 15-20 of them - not enough for every child to have one. Which meant of course that I spent the entire party trying to explain to a girl with limited understanding why she couldn't run around playing with one - and that was literally all she wanted to do. Probably more mentally than physically exhausting, although I did have to follow Sasha round the whole hall and in and out of kitchen and corridor etc and so I didn't get chance to sit down and chat with other mums for more than 2 minutes. Actually a good bit of exercise for me, always look on the bright side ;)  Top party tip would be to please have enough balloons so there is one for each child - and a few over for the inevitable bursts. Sasha does love pass the parcel but doesn't understand having to pass it on and why she can't open every layer - in fact most 4 year olds still don't really understand this! I always think it's a bit like teasing them, waving something in front of their nose and making them give it away! Another top tip from me would be that if you have a party of 40 kids, try to have 4 circles with 4 separate parcels going round (with an adult 'helping' those who don't want to pass it on!) and to make sure that every child gets a treat quickly!! What's the fun in a party with children crying?!

As we're only 3 weeks into the new nursery I haven't got around to telling all the nursery mums about Sasha's autism yet - though I think one mum who I definitely have told may have remembered when she tried to move Sasha out of the way by touching her and got a loud squeal for her pains...  I don't think I've developed my elephant skin enough yet though, as all I could think about after was what people thought of Sasha and how she wasn't joining in. To be fair though, she was better behaved than lots of 4 year olds, and she definitely enjoyed the party. I guess I just worry about playground rumours and people 'making comments' behind my back - I'd rather everything was out in the open. Hey ho, will have to learn to get over that quickly!

After the party I treated her to a Night Garden DVD from ELC - definitely not something I would normally splash out on (online is way cheaper anyhow!!), but one of the lovely things about Sasha is that she never whinges about what she's not got, and in nearly 4 years of going into that toy shop she has never once asked me to buy anything more than a chocolate lolly - unlike our elder daughter who wants everything every time we go in. Most adults would just say no to the pleading, and of course that's what we have done plenty of times to Tamsin, but the fact Sasha asks so rarely makes me want to treat her all the more! So she was even happier when we got home. And my children being happy is what makes me really happy.

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