He’s Almost Six

Ryan will turn six next week. I don’t think he knows.

We’ve certainly talked about it. We’ve showed him the little picture of a birthday cake on his calendar. We’ve tried to coach him to answer the questions “How old are you?” and “How old will you be on your birthday?” though without success.

Stu keeps reminding me that Ryan’s agenda rarely has anything to do with ours, so I shouldn’t get upset that we’ve never had the typical my-birthday-is-coming experience. No anticipation. No begging for presents. No expression of pride in being a year older.

We used to go through the motions of having a party at the ballpit with the kids from his playgroup, and while I guess he enjoyed climbing and eating cake, it’s not like he ever played with his guests. Last year we had a couple of kids over for Ryan to ignore, and a family gathering from which he hid.

This year, we’ve kind of given up, and we’re only having adult family members over; Ryan will not care. Maybe he’ll enjoy his presents, maybe he’ll ignore them. Maybe he will play with his grandparents and aunt and uncle, maybe he will tell them to go away and he’ll play in his closet.

He will not be disappointed.

But I will be.

I keep reminding myself that Ryan is happy – the ridiculous grin on his face when he’s playing by himself should reassure me. But part of me still wants to impose my agenda on him.

I want him to get excited about his birthday.

I want him to dictate a list of friends to invite to a superhero-themed party.

I want him to tell strangers “I’m gonna be SIX on Wednesday!”

I want him to ask us for some super-special toy that I don’t know how to track down.

I want him to get so excited about his birthday cake that he sticks his finger in it and messes up the frosting.

He’s my baby. My only baby. And I want to celebrate. But mostly I want him to care about the same things every typical almost-six-year-old cares about. Maybe some balloons will help

TheRyanFiles on Facebook
Meredith Zolty
My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at http://notanaffliction.blogspot.com/
Meredith Zolty

TheRyanFiles

My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at http://notanaffliction.blogspot.com/

0 thoughts on “He’s Almost Six

  • September 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm
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    @notanaffliction – Yeah she is lucky…baby number 3 and last one is on the way and I have NO idea what to expect…it’s hard being a parent of a child that struggles so much with the things we find to be rather just natural…I think you can do all the reading you want, and all the research and go to all the Drs. you want but in the end I think a parent knows what is going to work best…now if only most of us could figure that out as it can change from day to day or moment to moment…it’s a rollercoaster of ok what’s it going to be like today.

    I admire and have a deep found respect for Kids living with Autism and their parents – it’s not an easy thing and I think the kids are so amazing…some of the brightest kids out there – they don’t get caught up in all the hype of things, they don’t care for a lot of fuss and bother and they see things in a way I don’t think we will ever understand totally.  I give props to all the parents out there struggling to help their kids in any way they can…it’s not as easy as some think…

    Reply
  • September 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm
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    @karen1979 – Your daughter is so fortunate that she has a dad who really can understand her in that way. But yeah, I would imagine that would leave you feeling pretty left out. I suppose that’s how most of our kids feel in the rest of the world. Hang in there, Mom!

    Reply
  • September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am
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    My husband has PDD – let me tell you I had NO idea when I met him – it’s a struggle for me because I want him to have some sort of emotion about something – when our little girl was born not a smile from him – he took her and held her and not much showed.  At times he smiles and laughs when she does something cute or gives him a hug.  I had worked with kids with Autism before but when it is someone close to you – it’s a whole different story.  

    I try not to get frustrated, I try not to push because he shuts down and blocks me out often.  Our little girl well she is amazing but struggles with things – she started to talk had 10 words she knew thanks to the hard work we put in, now she has stopped talking and mostly screams and squeals at people for being in her “bubble”.  We can’t take her out to new places too often or she has a freak attack and wont calm down until removed from the situation – so it’s a gradual transition to new places and every so often as not to have her freaking out in the middle of a store or someone’s house etc.  She often wont go to me – just her Dad – that unspoken bond and the whole he gets me right now you don’t and you are frustrating me Mom thing.  She has melt downs a lot and despite having an older brother mostly wants to do her thing in her time.  The two of them are eerily similar in mannerisms and behaviour…so mostly I get shut out and it’s hard – I love them dearly but sometimes I just wish they were more like everyone else 🙁 I feel rejected at times and it’s hard – but in those moments when she is feeling good and she comes to me and gives me a hug and sits with me – it makes it all worth it…

    Reply
  • September 30, 2011 at 9:16 am
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    I can totally relate to how you feel. I think I have even said those same sentiments verbatim to my husband every year for the past 11 years (my son has aspergers and will be 12 in February). Birthday’s magnify the dichotomy between how our children may have changed and matured physically over the years, and how many circumstances with their behavior have remained unchanged year after year. I remember thinking at my son’s sixth birthday party, as he was blowing out his candles-I silently wished for this to be the last party where my wish was for him to be potty trained when he blows out his candles the next year (coincidentally,  he was potty trained at age 7) ,and for this to be the last birthday party where he covers his ears and runs to his room screaming “YOU’RE ALL SINGING IT WRONG!!! YOU DIDN’T SING IT RIGHT!!” when we sing “Happy Birthday” to him. My solution to this was of course, not singing at his next party-which prompted a meltdown because “YOU FORGOT TO SING THE SONG WRONG!!!!” To this day, we have yet to nail down exactly what is the right way to sing happy birthday, even with his direct instruction 🙂 This happens at other kids parties he attends too. Thats so much fun-all the kids around the cake, candles lit, birthday girl or boy giddy with excitement and basking in the attention as everyone celebrates them in song, only to have my son, the tyrannical, disgruntled broadway show director yell “CUT!! Back to one people, that was a mess. you over there, you came in too late-and ma’am you are horribly off key. I cant work with this!” That is a characature I’ve created in my mind of him sitting in a directors chair, holding a megaphone and wearing a beret for some reason 🙂 He has toned his criticism down over the years, this year we managed to get by with no screaming or running to his room but instead he sat there smiling as we sang happy birthday, blew out his candles and when asked what he wished for, no joke, he said “if i told you what i wished for then it wont come true and that means you would never sing happy birthday correctly.” his birthday wish is for us to finally sing that blasted song “correctly” 🙂 When that fact dawned on the rest of us we couldn’t contain the slow eruption of laughter that ensued. My son sat there, looking at us over the top of his glasses, with the biggest grin on his face-and said “Mom, I made everyone laugh with my sarcasm! Yay!”  Oh, I love my little Simon Cowell, but I still hate birthday parties! 🙂

    Reply
  • September 30, 2011 at 8:12 am
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    I really enjoyed this piece, but I also feel the frustration. I just wrote a highly popular piece on my site about autism. Also did one on quilting.

    It’s a Blogger site http://www.RogerBlazic.com

    Use the search box for AUTISM and Quilting.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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    My son is 12 with PDD-NOS and I can commiserate with your wanting to impose your agenda. My daughter is much older and neurotypical. We had all the excitement of birthdays and visiting Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and not being able to sleep knowing it’s almost time to open presents and such. It was never that way with my son.

    Now that my daughter is off to college and living on her own, we rarely celebrate holidays the way we used to. He recognizes Santa Claus, is just now beginning to understand the concept of birthday parties and looks forward opening gifts, even the ones that don’t belong to him. I enjoy dressing him up for Halloween but trick or treating is fairly pointless. He just wants to go inside people’s homes and has no no interest in candy or sweets because of multiple food sensitivities. We always try to find a Halloween or Easter carnival geared towards kids with special needs with balloons and simple games that he can play. Sometimes you can find them sponsored by local churches or the zoo.

    I think the most successful birthday party we’ve ever had was a carnival theme. We bought some plastic ducks from a party store and had a duck pond with fun size candy or small party favors as prizes (tiny koosh balls, small boxes of crayons, whistles, etc.). My husband printed out a picture of a large juggling clown on his plotter at work, glued it to some cardboard and cut out circles where the juggling balls were for a beanbag toss.  We had the party at his special needs preschool with his classmates in a familiar environment. I made cupcakes and used food coloring to make up several different colors or frosting. The ones who could enjoyed decorating their cupcakes with frosting and various sprinkles. My son who is very tactically and orally defensive needed a little help, but it was still a fun way to have him “participate” and he enjoyed trying to blow out the candles with a little help from his friends.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm
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    I have a son who similarly seemed oblivious to so much. He is 9 now and much more related, thanks to inclusion, and also Floortime Therapy, which we did on our own from a series of books. He constantly amazes me by asking questions and making comments about things he experienced at the ages of 2 and 3 and 4, showing us all that he was aware of so much more than we could ever have guessed. He remembers games he played (or shall I say games a therapist tried to get him interested in- while he mostly ignored her and followed his own agenda) with a therapist years ago, before he was speaking at all.  I suspect your son is also much more aware than you could imagine. The essence of Floortime for us seemed to be to try to get in to the world in which he felt comfortable and then get to know him and slowly broaden his world until it included first his family and now his peers. I remember those milestones and also that mix of pure love for who he was coupled with that longing for who he might be able to become. I still feel it but as he is able to engage more in the world the pain recedes to a dull ache always there reminding me of the struggle he faces daily, and in the forefront at least today is a smiling fourth grader who played the trumpet for the first time in band. Don’t give up- keep reaching, and keep being grateful for all he is now.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm
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    I don’t have children but I am a nanny to a little girl.  I can only imagine how this is heartbreaking to you.  I felt your tears in your post.  Right now, I’m in the process of teaching my little one to tell people she will be 2.  Whenever she talks to me (in a language only she understands), her eyes light up with excitement.  Does your son get excited to tell you the things he believes are important?  I’m not even sure he will remember who was there at the party but he will remember the feelings surrounding it.  He will remember the impressions you try to make for him, whether or not they manifest later. 

    Life is a gift and children are a blessing.  Enjoy everyday while you can.  Hugs.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2011 at 8:33 am
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    @sadiealise23@xanga – Thank you for encouraging me to look back on that one – yes, Ryan is a blessing for me. But the celebration of his birthday last year was still fraught with anxiety. When Grandpa and company came over, Ryan hid from them, cried, ordered them to leave.

    I’m happy to report that this year’s family party went much better, mostly because we all backed off and let him drive, and didn’t bring any other kids over to confuse the matter. He picked out a rainbow of balloons and played with them for a couple of hours, he trashed the house with his toys, and he happily ignored all the adults in the room. And I acted like everything was fine.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2011 at 3:11 am
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    i was just reading back in your nonaffliction profile postings about his fifth birthday and how awesome it was. go back and read it and i swear your mindset will change. your baby boy is a blessing.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2011 at 12:46 am
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    I can see how frustrating that would be.  I hope he has a happy birthday, however he chooses to celebrate it.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm
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    I can definitely see how heartbreaking and frustrating it is for you to experience your son’s social impairments. I hope that you make it through his sixth birthday without being too disappointed.

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    Reply
  • September 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm
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    @AutismLight – I don’t completely agree with that statement because spending time with family even if it’s only a few times a year is important, knowing people and being social is important.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm
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    Have you considered that maybe he cares about the things that are the most important. He enjoys each and every day rather than waiting for an anniversary to arrive.  

    Reply

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