Football has never been a big part of my family. My husband is more into boxing than any other sport. Super bowls are fun simply because we get to hang out with family and friends. Before my son was born, we would go to football super bowl parties all the time. We’d eat and hang out with our friends.
But now when people invite us to their super bowl parties, our first question “Is it kid friendly?” And our kid-friendly requirements are not the typical kid friendly list that most parents look for. Our kid friendly questions are: Who will be there? Will they be uncomfortable with my son? What if he has a meltdown? How will others act when makes strange noises? It will probably be too noisy; will he have a place where he can cool down? Will everyone be okay if we leave early because the monkey has a sensory overload?
In essence what we look for is not a kid friendly place, but an Autism Friendly Place.
And I think what a lot of typical parents don’t understand or people without kids don’t understand is that when special needs parents get invited to events, a lot of times we say no. But it’s not because we don’t want to go. A lot of times is because our safety zone is in our home. We know our kids are safe, they won’t be judged, and they are able to be free, to be who they are.
But even if we feel that the event would be autism friendly, we have other issues to think about.
For example, in our local city, there’s an event hosted every first Sunday of the month for kids on the spectrum. In this place there are go carts, mini golf, & arcades. They dim down the lights and turn off the sounds and for two hours our kids get to be themselves. This is perfect for my son.
And today we opted not to go. We knew going there would be a lot for our monkey. After that we’d have to stay home to give him time to decompress. But since my husband and daughter wanted to go to a super bowl party that our friends invited us to, we had to pick and choose. And we choose the game.
When you do invite a special needs parent, and if they say no, please be understanding. It’s usually not that they don’t want to. It probably is that many times they weigh out their options and realize that declining the event maybe best for their family.
A few months back one of my very good friends invited us to her grandson’s birthday party at the pizza place. We’ve noticed that the noise, and all of the people, plus the arcades is a lot for my son. I politely declined the invite, but I figured out I should tell her why. I realized that explaining to her the situation meant that I could increase awareness a little bit more. She immediately apologized and said she didn’t realize it would be a lot for my monkey. I told her no apology was necessary. But I wanted her to know that I did appreciate the invite and I just wouldn’t be able to attend.
But even if we keep declining, please don’t stop inviting. You see, once the invites stop, that sends a message that we are not part of the group anymore. And loneliness is very typical for special needs families. And all of this is very difficult to handle.
I know it’s hard to completely understand our situation. But in the end, we are typical people. We simply want our family and friends to love us, to support us, and to understand us unconditionally.
If we have all of that, then everything else falls into place. 💙❤️