Note to self, its worth every penny to have someone else handle the details. Literally, all I had to do was show up with cake and birthday boy. And for not much more money than I’ve spent before on party food and decorations at home.
When we arrived, early of course, the party coordinators whisked the cake out of my hands, sent Dominic to go play with the other 5 year olds and told me to go sit in the café and have a cup of coffee. They then proceeded to decorate the room (in the CARS theme, which they happened to have on hand, no extra charge to us). We wandered back down a few minutes before the scheduled start, and greeted people as they arrived. The party coordinators sent the kids to the gym to play (climbing wall, hula hoops, floor scooter things, bouncy balls… then they did group games of Dodge ball and they played with a parachute thingy) for about 45 minutes. Then they did a treasure hunt in the playgym (which is this multi level thing with a slide, and trampolines, etc) for another half an hour or so. Then we moved into the party room where the kids all got served sorbet (yes, they did dairy free for us) and the cake I’d made, and lemonaide. Then the party coordinators coordinated the presents, and made me a list of who gave what. Then they cleaned up, including washing my dishes.
Dominic got lots of wonderful presents. Thank you all for the things you got him, he has played with everything already. After we left, he fell asleep almost immediately, he was that worn out from the playing.
He did a great job of interacting with the other kids in the play areas (it was about 1/3 special needs kids, and 2/3 neurotypical) – he actually PLAYED and shared and had no meltdowns. Actually, there were no meltdowns at all from anyone, which is excellent. Dominic also did a really good job of staying seated for the cake and ice cream, and of eating it without being distracted by all his friends around him.
As hard as it is for me to watch him struggle to interact with the kids who he did great with prior to his regression, I think it was good for everyone that he did, if that makes sense. Its hard to realize that kids a year or more younger than him are signing their names to cards when he doesn’t have the fine motor control to draw letters yet. (his teacher says he’s close to getting a D, but still… he just doesn’t have the fine motor control). Its also hard to watch the other kids be able the speak to each other when he just cannot. When he’s in a social setting where other kids are loud, he just doesn’t speak at all. So, we need to work on that. Seems to also shut himself down a bit receptively, too. Maybe the answer is do more playgroup type stuff (yeah, I know, when), maybe the answer is just keep moving along the path we’re on. I try to remind myself that we’re making very good progress – he dresses himself completely now – we say go get dressed, and he picks out clothes (which frequently match) and gets dressed with no further prompting. He’s fully potty trained, no regressions there, his tummy is doing mostly better as long as he gets lots of banana’s, he does manage to make his needs known even if he’s doing it nonverbally. Overall, we’re making progress. Its just still very hard to see the kids on the track he was on before he regressed – how they’ve progressed. I imagine that it will continue to be hard. Its frankly why we haven't had a birthday party for him since he was 2. Just too hard to see the differences.