Sunday, March 29, 2009

Disability v. Personality

We went to an Easter Eggs Hunt today and I left in tears. My husband's boss's wife throws a big Easter event every year and there were inflatables, a trampoline, food, drinks, and a visit by the Easter Bunny.

Charlie doesn't like the sounds of other children screaming so he shut his eyes the moment we got there and pretty much didn't open them for anything. Most of the children were a bit older and were running around and screaming gleefully.

The icing on the cake came when we brought Charlie over to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap and he began trying to squirm free, but also still wouldn't open his eyes. Add that to his generally floppy posture and one of the mothers exclaimed "is he asleep?" At that point we were done and I took Charlie to the car while my hubby bid his boss adieu.

Charlie's anti-social thing is hard on me. I'm not wild about mommy-events. I'm not really able to converse about designer jeans, playgroups, the best private schools. I'm more of a AFOs, therapy, best emergency room kind of gal. I'm not stand-offish, but I find mommies to be one of the cliquiest demographics. Kids parties are dull and don't have enough alcohol or cursing, so there's really only so much enjoyment I'm going to get out of these things. I'm going because I think Charlie is going to get something out of them and he doesn't. He hates them. He hates sun, tons of strangers, and kids screaming.

Later we hit a concert in the park and Charlie rolled and played on the blanket, smiled, and generally had a good time.

Sometimes I forget that every piece of Charlie isn't about his disability. His father has always hated big parties. As a kid he would go inside and watch TV. He's fallen asleep at more keg parties then anyone I know. He doesn't like strangers, and he really doesn't like big crowds of them. His brother is the same way. They never went to a school dance or to the prom. They are social, but they aren't into the massive gathering thing.

So is some of Charlie's hatred of big parties part of his disability? I'm sure some of it is. . . his vision isn't great and the sunshine probably doesn't help. He uses his hearing a lot I'm sure screaming children don't sound like a symphony. But I'm equally sure that a big chunk of it is inherent in who he is. If he'd been born completely neuro-typical I might still be forcing him to interact at these kinds of events. He's just not a party person.

So, I'd say lesson learned, but I suspect I'll have to get beaten over the head with it a few more times before it sinks in. But for today I'll remind myself that Charlie doesn't like big, outdoor parties and I shouldn't be upset or disappointed if he reacts by shutting down. That is who he is.