Invitations: What a Special Needs Parent wants you to Know

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We love getting invitations! Accepting them, however, isn’t always so simple. Here’s what this special needs parent would like you to know…

Invitations- special needs parents

We’ve turned down a lot of invitations over the years
Birthday parties, graduations, and Christmas eves, all to avoid uncertain disaster: Over-stimulation causing a meltdown of epic proportions, our daughter’s exasperation on display, for the world to see.

We opt for smaller celebrations at home where we know she’ll be most at ease.  When we do attend events, we often leave early.

No, this isn’t about avoidance of judgmental stares – this is about the fact that once our kiddo is overstimulated, she’s uncomfortable and her meltdown is the product of that.  Going to events is not always what’s best for her.

Sensory overload is often at the root of a meltdown. Autism Parenting Magazine notes that although they may appear similar, a meltdown is not the same as a temper tantrum – and a successful response is based upon understanding the difference.

Here are some things to keep in mind if a special needs parent accepts or declines your invitation:

Our intentions are good.  We don’t want a meltdown to take away from your special occasion.  We usually know whether a venue or situation will be a good idea or not.

It’s A LOT of work.  The planning and interference skills that are required to have a successful experience is exhausting.  We may feel as though we spend so much time following our kiddo around that we can’t enjoy you or your celebration.

We may call ahead to get the lay of the land.  I usually call a host to ask what they are serving (because we always pack gluten and dairy free substitutes).  I might also ask about surroundings:  If it’s at a park, is there a creek nearby?  Plans for swimming? Will there be kids there? What ages? I’m not being rude, just planning for success!

We may leave early and in a hurry.  When it’s time, it’s time.  We can usually see the signs of impending doom.  Rather than carry out a child who is kicking and screaming, we may just quietly exit, stage left.

We may stay too long.  Perhaps we missed the signs.  Perhaps a well-meaning relative gave her gluten and dairy filled cookies because, hey, it’s only a few, what’s the harm?  We can’t choose the timing or the place of a meltdown.  Sometimes we can let it ride, (like in the middle of a park) sometimes, we can’t (like in the middle of a church ceremony) we just might carry out a kicking and screaming child.

Please still invite us. Even if we can’t attend, we love to know about your special day and wish you well.

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