Here's one that I think a lot of people can agree on: the horrors of the children's birthday party. For the first few years there is the family version, which always reminds me of the old Seinfeld joke about how your first and last birthday parties are basically the same, "These are your friends!"
Everyone claims to hate these parties, but, let's face it, for typical parents what's the worse case scenario? Some forced merriment with a hated sister-in-law? A migraine headache and a couple of sugar-buzzed kids?
For parents of a special needs child, it can be one of the more depressing opportunities to see your child falling short of their peers. Especially if the party is for a child that is the same age as your special needs child, or, worse yet, younger. You get to hang out with all of the mothers who were pregnant at the same time as you, but somehow managed to grunt out a "normal" kid. While their kids are off organizing a pickup game of Kick the Can and making new friends left and right, your kid is off playing with the 9-month old sister's baby toys. You drive yourself crazy trying to corral them into playing the party games, but they are completely uninterested and your attempts to get them involved only make their deficits more obvious to everyone.
To make matters worse, I've recently discovered that once kids hit kindergarten and start throwing the school-friend parties, parents don't stick around at all. They drop their kids off at the birthday boy or girl's house, Chuck E Cheese, a jumpy house place, a pool, Pedophile Lonnie's House of Caves...they don't care, as long as they get a couple of hours to themselves.
The birthday celebrant brings a stack of invitations to school and passes one out to every kid in class. Something tells me that the parents hosting the party aren't bargaining on you dropping off your autistic child. Can you imagine? "Good luck! See you in two!"
The first typical kids birthday party that Audrey was invited to was her friend Renee's, who is one of a few typically-developing peers that we have over for therapist-supervised playdates to help Audrey with her social and play skills. Renee had her party at a place that was sort of like Build-A-Bear, but better because you got to stuff the bear with candy. Even though I was the only parent that stayed for the party, it was a completely comfortable situation because the family knows Audrey well and they are wonderful and gracious and completely understanding of her disability. Audrey didn't understand the games very well, and I had to constantly run interference between her and the cake. If I took my eyes off of her for a second, she would have been face-down and ears-deep in it with a plastic princess lodged in one nostril.
After the party, Renee sent out photo thank-you cards. Here's a fun game...see if you can pick out the autistic kid!
It was only her first one. She'll get better at it. Please God, let her get better at it.