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July was fast approaching, and I could see a massive cloud of emotions storming towards me. I think about it all year. Guess I shouldn't, but I do.
Through my earlier blog, rather the first blog, I poured my heart about my son being on the Autistic spectrum, for those of you new to the term, here is a quick link http://goo.gl/Ve6asz Since the time, I shared the blog with family and friends, it has been amazing to see all the support we have received. Tons of people wrote to me, both people I know and strangers, that this is the first time they came to know about Autism or ASD, and I was so pleased that I was able to create that awareness within my circle and outside.
My entire life, my own birthday has brought a lot of pressure, aging of course is a serious matter, haha, but I get this feeling churning inside of me that I cannot explain. To add to this, my son's b'day also falls in July. A few days before my son's birthday, I start thinking about how old he will be, how far behind he is compared to peers his age, questions people will start asking me about his school, his extra hobby classes, his eating habits, sleeping routine, his talking skills, writing skills, riding skills, singing, dancing, jumping and what not! I dodge questions like bullets these days when I am out with other moms and it is silly that I have to do that. I just do not have the patience always to explain our life to everyone, and even if I do, who has the patience to listen to the story standing the park surrounded by hyperactive children, so I take the easy way out, I dodge. I talk about the weather or just give them a chance to talk about their kids. Moms are good at that, naturally, once they start, I do not have to answer any questions, phew!
Birthdays, have been very different for us, the first birthday we celebrated was in an beautiful park as by then we realised he could not cope with having more than four people in a room. The park was so spacious, that he was at ease, we were only six adults along with the birthday boy, because having other kids would mean a completely distraught birthday boy. The very sight of the cake, made him nauseous, anxious and oh my what unhappy faces he made! Then came the singing part, when he heard us all happily sing the world famous and acceptable birthday jingle, "Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Aarwin! Happy birthday to you!.......May......and then started the crying. His face changed, tears rolled down and obviously we did not want the little one year old cry over a song, so we stopped immediately and just proceeded cutting the cake ourselves. He was forced to lick a little cream off from our fingers and that was it. I guess that was the first and the last time he ever tasted cake. He despises it. You might think of so many ideas that I could use to make him try the cake, believe me, I have already tired those ideas in the past four years. Why he dislikes it? I do not have a single answer to that, may be the way it looks, feels, tastes, resembles something he doesn't like, or just the fear of new, I am waiting for him to grow up and hopefully he might be able to answer that. Not that the pediatrician is worried, she said, good he doesn't eat cake, here I am sitting and advising parents on how to stop their kids from eating cake! Hmmm, there are two sides to everything.
Even attending birthday parties is not so easy, I have taken him to several birthdays in the past few years and oh boy! The children, the music, the noise, the claps, the singing, the toys, the balloons, the lighting, the food, the drinks, the candles, the outfits, the hustle and the bustle, every possible aspect of the event, just puts him into a sensory overload. Imagine, just overloading your washing machine, with more than it can handle, the machine jams up, and either it starts shaking too much or completely shuts down. Sensory overload can lead to the person either go into a meltdown or complete mental shutdown where they will not respond to any stimulation. I go prepared to these parties. His favorite drinks, a portable fan to help him calm down, seven colors (could be a small piece of paper with rainbow colors) which he instantly smiles at, a small bottle with liquid (water or rose water) that he shakes vigorously to self regulate and cope with other sensory inputs such as noise or light, favorite biscuits (which he usually refuses as he cannot eat in an overloaded environment anyway) and a tablet with his favorite rhymes, if all hell breaks loose, the above would be in my purse at all times. Sometimes, I have to leave the party in a few minutes and sometimes he just manages to cope by finding a safe corner from where he observes the rest of the chaos! Unpredictable.
His birthday, this time, it was slightly different, Aarwin at least came at a one hand distance to me, while I sat down on the stool, inviting him to come near the cake. He kept yelling, shouting, screaming, crying at this loudest especially when the candles were lit, but we did not stop, we smiled at him and surrounded the entire cake with his favorite color jars. He was very curious, he kept trying to come closer but his fears would not let him, we gave him his space, we let him observe and feel safe too, because for him feeling safe is more important than having fun, and this time instead of singing the song, we played his favorite version of the song from a YouTube video. He was a bit more calmer as we did not sing, we just hummed along the video and I tried to make him cut the cake. He ran away to his safe corner, so I let him be there and I cut the cake. He doesn't understand the concept of birthdays yet he was calmer this time, he was closer, he was curious, he was interested and that itself was the celebration!The past four years have been nothing short of a roller coaster and it is going to be so for a long time, we enjoy it on most days and some days are a bit down in the dump, but we get back. My son started attending therapy sessions since April and his tolerance levels are increasing gradually, and every bit counts. We love him, we care for him and we want him to know that we are here for him no matter what. His birthday is a special day in his life, that brings the memory of his birth, and all the happiness and what we celebrate on that day is his life, because he is the one fighting a new battle every day, to cope, to learn, to understand this world and live in it.*****************************************************************The purpose of my blog is not to garner sympathies from readers and fellow bloggers, but entirely to create awareness. My blog is a request to parents, to educate their children about the existence of different human beings around them, prepare them, do not lie to them or give excuses about why their friend is behaving differently, tell them the truth, that not everyone is the same but they deserve similar love, teach them that they will have to open their minds and accept the unfriendly friend as well, teach them to love, to help, to extend a hand of support to children who do not even know how to ask for help, because your children are the ones, my kid will bank on. I am banking on you to raise a compassionate generation. Thank you.Please feel free to share your thoughts & feedback via the comments section. Would love to hear.