Over the weekend, we took J&S to a birthday party for a little boy in our neighborhood who was turning 3. Sam has been to many in the last few months — quick little affairs that were more playdate than party, but John has ABA just about every Saturday and so has stayed home with his daddy.

A little history: We went to our first birthday party last summer. Held at the Little Gym, it was full of loud, boisterous children and structured into dance time, singing time, and sitting-to-eat-pizza-and-cake time. In short, everything that my boys hate. It was one of our first big outings where there was a large group of neurotypical children and we were barely one month into hearing our diagnoses.

I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that it was rough all around.

When all you see and know every day is your own children, it can come as a shock to meet their peers and see how much more they’re saying and doing. Both boys were overloaded with sensory stuff and tantrummed pretty badly. Because of their food issues, they refused to sit at the table, nevermind try birthday cake. Back then, we had yet to hear even one word out of their mouths.

I remember a lot of stares, a lot of open mouths. I remember two little boys who kept seeking the exit door at every opportunity and the non-stop stimming. I remember feeling red-faced and hot and incompetent. Both of us were relieved when we were able to duck out, saying our goodbyes while each trying to restrain our respective child.

So yesterday’s party inspired a bit of apprehension. There were 15 children expected and it was being thrown by a party company. What if the boys couldn’t handle the decibel level? What if they threw a fit as soon as we arrived. Did I really have the energy to face 15 sets of parent faces?

I shouldn’t have worried.

I should have given us more credit: we’re all much better at this. We take their lead, structure be damned. They don’t want to dance in a circle? Who cares. They’d rather take our hands and lead us around and around the house? Okay. The idea of sitting at a table to eat pizza is their idea of hell? Ours too.

And when a few moms looked at me while I tried to calm J., I just smiled and told them he was tired, while I watched their neurotypical kids have their own meltdowns.

Of course, we are nearing one year since we first heard the word “autism” ascribed to our sons — last February when they were just 18 months old. So as hard as life can sometimes be, there’s been a whole lot of growing going on.

And a whole lot of acceptance.


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  • My two boys are autistic too [although they’re not twins] Glad to hear that you managed to get a diagnoses so early , that should make a whole realm of difference.
    Best wishes

  • Glad to hear that it worked out. I know what you mean when you have your little ones around other peers their age, and you really see the difference. Know your not alone. I remember that year anniversary. Time continues to add acceptance.

  • I’m feeling a little guilty that I didn’t take my Samuel (8 years old) to a party this past weekend at a local video game arcade. Dad was busy though, and for now he is the only babysitter for our other 3 children!

    Samuel (diagnosed with autism at age 2)gets several invitations each school year. I just had a baby a year ago, so it’s kind of hard to get out with Samuel and make sure the baby is taken care of.

    I’m glad your experience worked out! It is so important to take your children out as often as you can. We have found it to be very challenging, but as Samuel gets older he is responding well to visual schedules and other aids that help him understand what is going on and what is expected of him, so for right now it’s getting easier to take him out.

  • Griffin got an early diagnosis too and I think that it has made all the difference in the world. He is doing well and I have much hope that he will continue to progress and who knows what lies ahead? Thanks for stopping by my blog, I’m glad to meet you and I look forward to reading more of your blog. You certainly have your hands full with twins and both on the spectrum but you are a strong woman and I have faith that you will do well with them, you are already and it hasn’t even been that long since the diagnosis, I’m impressed! You’ve definitely done your homework. Let’s keep in touch.

  • Isn’t it funny that watching our NT peers have fits makes us feel better!

    I know exactly what you mean. I remember struggling through a Gymboree class right at the time of our diagnosis. We were always the ones that hung out on the fringes. And got very upset if I pushed him anywhere near the other kids in the class.

    I remember dreading Halloween as all the kids were dressing up. JP was a fireman because he wouldn’t have to wear anything tight or on his head. Here is the best part…every child there had fit upon fit because they were uncomfortable in their elaborate costumes. Also most of them were terrified of the class leader who dressed up as a clown.

    I remember relishing the feeling that day that we actually fit in!


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