I grew up having a great birthday party each year – with friends, Carvel ice cream cake and games. It is important to me that our children have that experience as well. Each year, I’ve stressed over how we can make it great for Ben too. This year, I changed my perspective – it needed to be great for Ben – and that meant changing my view of birthday parties. Ben’s favorite place to eat is Fuel Pizza on Central Avenue – it has TVs anywhere you look, excellent pizza and a low-key atmosphere. I planned a 2 hour party with family and friends with pizza and Bob the Builder cupcakes. After one hour, several slices of pizza and two cupcakes, Ben was ready to leave. With the help of Grandma, he made his way to the exit. Party was over.
A paradigm shift is necessary. We, as parents, cannot apply the same standards that we use everyday in our own lives or from our childhood to plan, make decisions or even measure success. A whole new scale must be developed when you have a child with special needs – and that may even change as the child grows. In the instance of the birthday party, if my typical child was ready to leave after one hour, I would have been horrified. But I know with Ben, he had a good time, and the party was a success.