This is our family. There are a lot of things we don’t do because it is just too hard on the boys and no fun for us to go through the work of getting us there for them not to enjoy. In some cases the sensory overload of the event is terrifying for them. Big crowds, loud noises, and other kids crying are big triggers for them. I hope our friends know that it is not that we don’t want to be there with them but that it is simply something that we know will trigger the boys or it is beyond their capabilities for that day. We cannot plan in advance what they can tolerate and what that will allow us to participate in that day.
Small group settings is what we prefer because it’s what the oldest can tolerate and the least dangerous for our youngest so that we can keep him safe from wandering. If you do see us in public with the kids playing and my hand is not on our youngest because he is getting some freedom you will see me constantly scanning the area or following right behind him. I’m not participating with the other parents beyond walking with one and throwing in a comment here and there and I will run off in a heartbeat looking for him because it only takes seconds for him to disappear or get too far ahead of me. It’s not because I’m a helicopter parent, let’s face it I mean I might be, but it’s because he takes off running, thinks it’s a game, laughs when he sees you chasing after him, and will literally run into traffic or something else that could harm him.
An old friend moved back to town recently and they have a small group that gets together most weekends at their house and thankfully she’s cool with the fact that I baby proof her door knobs when we come over. I keep our youngest safely contained and I can actually relax. One friend, who has moved now, when it would be too much for my oldest son would let him shut the door on her son’s room and stay in there and play with Legos and tell her own kids and others to stay out of the room so he could have time to calm himself. Another special needs mom and I have a running joke of who’s going to cancel first and we’re always good with it, no judgement between us. It’s hard as a special needs parent to find and keep good friends because so many don’t understand your family’s limited socializing abilities for various reasons. So when you do find one or two or more of those special friends don’t be afraid to let them know “I really wanted to come but today is just too overwhelming for us. Can you let me know when you’re getting together again?” You’ll find that the good ones will realize you’re not just making excuses not to socialize with them and once they get to know your kid’s different tolerances will be more than willing to help you if you want to try venturing out into the world.