Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Birthdays are Like When You have an ADHD and Sensory Seeking Child

This past weekend we celebrated Christopher's birthday. His actual birth date is December 6th but with the craziness of the holidays, not to mention the fact that I waited too long to reserve a birthday site, we ended up celebrating the big day in January. I rented the therapy pool at the local YMCA and afterwards had pizza, cake and presents in the Big Room. Hey you only turn 6 once so I wanted Christopher to live large!

I don't really know any of Christopher's classmates so I thought this might be a great opportunity to meet the parents and maybe be able to set up some play dates for the future. So i decided to invite his entire class, plus the Kindergarteners in the before school and after school program. That means in addition to my friends and their kids, I had a guest list of 30 kids. That freaked me out a little because all those kids would come with at least one parent and possibly a sibling and the thought of 60+ people at our party was a little overwhelming to me.

What really happened was that hardly anyone RSVPed at first, so I actually started wondering if anyone was going to come at all. So of course that stressed me out. Ultimately we ended up with 10 kids plus their parents so in the end it was actually a really good sized group with some great people. But I was still receiving RSVPs once I had already arrived at the venue so they sure did leave me hanging.

Unfortunately for me, I have been battling a cold for the last week and I woke up the morning of the party feeling really lousy. I didn't want to get out of bed at all. So I didn't until 12:30, when I absolutely had to go shower. I had to make some semblance of an effort to look civilized after all.

Initially I wanted to go to the YMCA ahead of time to decorate the room but I just didn't have it in me. I did make it to the store to pick up Christopher's cake, which looked really awesome. He really does love Angry Birds so the party theme was pretty easy:

Christopher is normally gluten free and artificial dye free but I let him have a "normal" cake for the party because I thought, hey how much could it hurt? Plus he had two friends coming with nut allergies and I didn't want any allergic reactions and ambulance trips at our party. It's funny. You know your own child has a severe sensitivity to gluten and artificial dye but as the mom, you cater to the other kids' needs, even though you know it's going to be rough on your kiddo. And so with that in mind, I went with a marble cake and fun colorful icing. The kids loved it. Christopher was thrilled at the time.

Unfortunately for me, the fun times didn't last. We had about 1/3 of the cake left over and like an idiot I brought the rest home so Christopher could polish it off. Waste not, want not and all that. I figured when we got home from the party, he'd crash hard from all the activity but it was the exact opposite actually. He was bouncing off the walls. Meanwhile, I was the one exhausted but couldn't lie down because I had "play with me play with me play with me" on indefinite loop being yelled into my ear.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson and just tossed that dye-filled cake. But nooo I let Christopher have these "treats" all through he long weekend. And as a result, for the rest of the weekend, Christopher was extremely argumentative, aggressive and all sorts of tantrum-y. I literally couldn't wait to go back to work on Tuesday after a 3-day holiday weekend with the kiddo where he alternately yelled, screamed and defied, in addition to repeatedly telling me he hated me. I walked into work on Tuesday on the verge of tears.

What I've learned is that from now on, we have cupcakes with a butter cream frosting. I can add cake toppers to make them look special and if I absolutely need a fun color, I can buy organic natural dye on Amazon.

Thankfully for us, the majority of kids didn't come so the 10 kids that did show represented a great number. Christopher could handle 10 kids. 30 kids would definitely have been rough on my over-stimulated kid.

Thankfully I at least have great photos so hopefully with time I only remember the good and forget all about the bad with that darn cake. Here is a photo of Christopher's friends singing him happy birthday. He's not smiling because he's just soooo overstimulated here:

In the end, it was a mostly successful party and I am glad I had it at a venue that did the majority of the work for me. If I had had to clean my house and make all the food and organize the kids for a backyard party, I think I would have cried. I do recommend the YMCA as a party venue for the 6 year old crowd and would absolutely do it again, if I were to do the whole day over.

In a nutshell, this is what I learned throwing a 6th birthday party for my sensory seeking ADHD kiddo:

  1. Make sure the venue isn't too overwhelming. I wouldn't recommend Chuckie Cheese's because it's just total sensory overload. Swimming worked well for my son because he finds the water very calming. But some kids with SPD issues cannot handle the sensation of water so well. Make sure you do what works best for your child.
  2. If your child is normally gluten free, casein free, dye free, organic...whatever...make sure you stick with it at the party or else you risk a major meltdown. 
  3. There are GREAT ideas on Pinterest for cakes for the ADHD and SPD kiddo with the special diet, so if you're looking for ideas, I suggest you try there
  4. Cupcakes are a great idea if you need to accommodate gluten allergies and nut allergies. You could make one batch of cupcakes GFCF cupcakes and one batch of "regular". Make sure they all have butter cream frosting though so that the kids don't fight for the "cool colors". Also, make sure that the cupcakes are all correctly labeled so nobody accidentally ends up with the wrong type
  5. Keep the guest list small. Too many attendees means you risk total sensory overload
  6. Do what you can to limit overhead noise. If you don't need blaring music, don't have it
  7. No candy! Unless you want to see a meltdown happen in 5...4....3....2....1...
  8. The party should not be longer than two hours. Anything more and the kiddo would get overloaded
And that's my birthday experience for yet another year. Until next year...happy happy birthday Christopher!

No comments:

Post a Comment