The day before my daughter's fourth birthday, all of our suspicions were confirmed. She was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My perfect, beautiful, singing little girl. Even though we had been suspecting it for a couple years now it was still hard to hear the words spoken out loud. I remember telling some friends who have been walking the journey with us and they asked how do you feel? I remember thinking it changes everything and nothing at the same time. She was still the same little girl who smiled so easily, and was ALWAYS singing. But now we had so many resources at our fingertips.
I'm pretty sure most parents worry a crazy amount anyway, but my worries and fears just multiplied by 100. How will the kids treat her? Will she make friends easily? Will she get invited to birthday parties? Will kids come to hers?
Anyone else have similar worries? Autism or not?
I've read many stories of bullying and exclusion and I just worried for her.
She started junior kindergarten this past September and she is doing amazing! Her speech has come leaps and bounds. She's telling stories now, reading and making friends. It has set my heart at ease a bit.
Just before Christmas she came home with her first birthday invitation. She was so excited. Plus it was at her favorite gym. She carefully picked out the right present and off we went. It was neat to observe her in a different environment with her classmates. The whole class was invited so I was curious to watch her interact with these kids she mentions on occasion.
We walked in and she shied away. Was happy to be there but treaded carefully and stuck close to her one friend. Whom we've come to realize is her favorite. She fit in with everyone but I could tell she was uncomfortable at times and unsure how to express herself. She ended up having a great time. I personally was glad I got to observe with my own eyes. Since she is still unable to share her thoughts and feelings.
With her own birthday quickly approaching at the end of the month I was unsure how to celebrate. Do I invite the whole class or just have a small gathering?
After the party I made the decision to hold a small and intimate party for her. She still gets anxiety when she's uncertain about situations. So to ease her little heart we invited a couple close friends whom she is comfortable with and knew she would enjoy.
Last year I hired a real life Rapunzel impersonator. In hindsight it wasn't the best decision lol She took a long time to warm up to her and by then our time was up. So this year we kept it simple. We did mani's and made necklaces and just let them play.
I must add that it helps a great deal to have friends who understand your situation, even if they can't relate. We have been surrounded with so many loving people who support and love on her. That makes a huge difference! I am so grateful for all of those people.
Now to the specific party details! Each year we have done a specific theme. This year she didn't have a specific theme in mind. I am in love with all things gold and after perusing Pinterest I decided to go with a simple pink and gold theme. It's so easy to throw a party without spending a ton on decorations when you don't have a specific theme. It was such a pain to find Tangled themed decorations last year. We ended up making a ton of our own.
I searched pink and gold decorations on Amazon and found a ton of cute things for cheap. I found them a week before the party and thanks to amazon prime they were here the next day! I also got a great deal on photo booth props. I thought it would be fun for the girls to pose in a mini photo booth. I was also able to use some items from last years party.
All in all the decorations only cost $50!
We had the party in the afternoon after lunch, so we set out platters of fruit, PB & J sandwiches with the crusts cut off, (her fave) and of course cookies and cake!
It ended up being such a fun little afternoon. It was neat to watch her interact with her friends and to see how much she's grown. One thing that stood out the most was when she was opening her presents. She gets so excited and loves to rip open packages. So I know it must be a struggle of self control when she watches others open presents. But now it was her turn and she didn't have to hold back, but yet she said to her friends, "Do you want to come and help me?"
If you've ever been to a 5 year old's party you would know all the little faces are so eager to help rip open those packages. She understood that and let them share in that moment with her.
There is so much beauty in her diagnosis. We may not understand it fully, and get frustrated at times, but she is always surprising us. We love her and the little girl she is becoming.
I know this was a long post and different from others but it really was on my heart to share.
Stayed tuned for the next post when I show you how we achieved the perfect cake fit for this princess.