“No costume! No Mickey!” Charlie protests as I attempt to put his Mickey costume on for a Halloween party. Instead of letting the frustration get the better of me, I decide that it’s okay. He doesn’t need a costume. After all, it’s a Halloween party for children with special needs. They will understand. They have to understand. Right?
We arrive and are met with the most amazing Halloween decorations. A fire truck and police car fill the small parking lot for the kids to explore. The welcoming entrance is dawned in orange and black streamers, but Charlie hesitates to enter. Expecting this, his therapist and I prepped him all afternoon for the party, explaining every detail we could imagine, but those words had fallen on deaf ears.
Suddenly, Charlie catapults into mega meltdown mode, screaming, running, protesting, and lots of tears. I look around at all the other kids; they are either happily sitting or engaging in some activity the best they can. Why is my kid always the one who melts down? It must be me. I do my best to dodge all the self-doubt that accompanies these melt downs.
It’s been a rough day. I’ve already cried twice, so I decide not to go there again. After 15 agonizing minutes, Charlie’s bright red face is covered in tears. My heart breaks slightly, but his body and actions are calm now. He moved on. I push myself to move on too, and I’m so glad I did.
We had the most amazing time. These “special needs events” are a gift to all of us, especially Charlie’s brothers. These events allow us to celebrate holidays in a muted environment as a family without the stress of prying eyes. The lines are always short. The people are always so kind, gentle, or more patient that anyone I know, and the activities are always over the top amazing: face painting, bounce houses, tons of tasty treats, balloon animals, and a plethora of games all tied with a glorious sensory sensitive bow.
Thank you to the companies who put on these events. They bring my family and my heart more joy that you know. It allows families like ours to feel completely normal. We can be ourselves without judgment, and the siblings get “special”, in the most wonderful sense of the word, treatment.
Most people don’t consider the siblings. My sons help with Charlie’s therapy. They are the play partners that he works with; they often dodge his crazy kicks and hits sometimes falling victim though. They accept their brother as is. They wait for him at therapy; they miss out on time with Mom when I take Charlie to therapy alone. Most of all, they love him and try to connect with him endlessly, even though it can feel downright impossible.
So thank you! Thank you for allowing the siblings to come and feel “special”, because Autism and any special need can be taxing on the siblings too.