Thursday, July 13, 2017

No one turned up for his birthday party

Long time readers of the blog will know that several members of my family have high functioning autism (also called Asperger syndrome.)

It's hard being autistic. As I said in a much earlier post, if you are a child with high functioning autism, you may be very bright and have no problem with schoolwork, but be ultra-sensitive to noise, touch and smells, and be incapable of instinctively understanding the social world and how to behave in it. 

This sounds like a trivial problem, but it’s not. Amongst other things it can lead to bullying, friendlessness, loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression. It makes living an ordinary life without stress and distress – which most kids do without thinking – a skill that has to be mastered, just like swimming. Sometimes such young people have got the hang of it by the time they are 30.

Yesterday I came across a story on Twitter about a boy with high-functioning autism whose mother invited 25 children to his birthday party and he was expecting them to come and no-one turned up. Imagine how you would feel if this happened to you. I imagined my own young autistic relation going through it. For various reasons which are hard to explain simply in a brief blog post, birthdays are difficult and fraught times for aspies, even without a party.

This year the boy's mother, Lisa, wants to make his birthday special and asked people if they could find it in their hearts to send him a card.

If you want to do this, his birthday is Friday July 14th when he will be 11.
His name is Ben Jackson, and his address is 
35 Dunn Close, Southsea, Portsmouth PO4 9TX
and the full story is here.


S said...

Thanks Sue.
Will do it today.

Anonymous said...

Card in post...

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, S and Anonymous. That's kind.

Phoebe said...

I don't know the etiquette: if they received RSVPs and then no one turned up it's outrageous. Regardless, the mom needs to rethink for next year so this doesn't happen again. Perhaps three or four kids should be invited with a specific activity planned, like a movie picked in advance. And if friendship is hard for this boy, the way (IMO) to start is by picking the mothers carefully. Maybe there will be a few with compassion and intelligence.

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Phoebe, there are a lot of issues to think about with this story. It is not straightforward, and nor is the solution, but it upset me so much I had to send a card.There are questions about whether his mother did the right thing in making an appeal. Would the boy appreciate it now or in the future? How would he view stuff arriving from strangers?

as to your suggestions...I will just say that if an aspie is isolated and friendless at school, possibly bullied, possibly just thought of as weird because of unusual behaviours and reactions to ordinary stimuli, even compassionate and intelligent mothers will struggle to persuade their kids to go to his party. There are no easy solutions.