Birthday Parties

I used to really dread birthday parties. We started going to them when Raiyan was around 2 and a half years and these were parties of my friends’ children meaning Raiyan wouldn’t be particularly be familiar with the birthday kid (as opposed to a cousin or a classmate from school).

Even at that early age when I wasn’t supposed to be overly worrying about his development, I remember still detecting some differences in Raiyan already. I couldn’t help noticing his obvious disinterest in all of the other children, how he blatantly ignored others greeting him and trying to strike up conversations with him, how he was terrified of the birthday cake and would just look at it from afar and how he would run and hide when it was time for everyone to crowd around the birthday kid as the idea of too many people at one place just daunted him. However, even with those concerns in mind, I always managed to convince myself that he was behaving the way he did because he simply felt estranged with everybody in the room and it was just like him to be uncomfortable with new people he meets.

When he was at Stella Kindy, we started to receive birthday party invites which luckily were held at the school so in that sense we thought it wouldn’t be too much of a new environment for Raiyan since it’s held in an environment he is already familiar with. I completely accepted from the start the fact that Raiyan was oblivious to all of the invitations (and for all I know even the birthday parties too since I wasn’t physically there to see) because on every occasion that we got one, it was always me fishing it out of his bag as opposed to him giving it to me. I would also always go out to choose a birthday present without bothering to get any input from Raiyan on what I should get. I did this because I KNOW Raiyan was completely oblivious to the existence of his classmates anyway and I KNOW he did not understand the basic concept of what a birthday party is too.

During his first term at ISB (and a month before his diagnosis), he attended a birthday party at Jungle Gym which we were keen to let him go to since we knew he enjoyed going to the place. Unfortunately pweshes babah and I could not go so we asked my brother to go instead. I remembered curiously asking my brother upon their return if Raiyan played together with any of the other kids as at this stage I was beginning to feel really conscious about his lack of friends. Of course my brother replied no to but at the same time comforted me by saying that it was probably because he was too busy making full use of the playground equipment there. Ironically, Kerri Wilson was also that party (who I did not know of then) and it was then and there that (as she later on informed me) she quickly noticed there was something not quite right about Raiyan.

Naturally then I had begun to feel really anxious about birthday parties and would try to avoid going and just have pweshes babah go instead. As Raiyan got older, I realize other children got older too so birthday parties now wouldn’t just be a case of showing your face and eating cake. Especially since the birthday parties are attended by children belonging from the same class, it is expected that they will do things together and hence it will just be that much more obvious when Raiyan is on his own separated from the rest.

BUT you’ll be glad to read ahead of how things have changed so much for the better now. It was admittedly a gradual transition throughout the year that I didn’t personally play witness to since it was pweshes babah who had accompanied him to all of the birthday parties in this last year, so any developments are those that have been relayed by him to me. But nonetheless, Raiyan has definitely blossomed.

Last Saturday was Raiyan’s classmate Nadiya’s 6th birthday party held at her house and this was no ordinary party! In fact, it consisted of a series of structured games emceed by none other than our celebrity deejay of Brunei, Jenny Malai Ali! And it was then that it really hit pweshes babah (as what he told me after the party) of how far Raiyan has come. Not only was Raiyan mixing in and talking with all his friends, he really tried his best to follow the instructions given during the series of games. Even at times when he didn’t seem to understand, instead of avoiding the situation like he previously would, he instinctively followed or copied whatever his peers were doing! Apart from one activity where he had to suck marbles using a straw (which he naturally has difficulties with because of his dyspraxia/weak jaw motor skills), Raiyan was proud to report to me that he did well in all of the other games and managed to get 3 prizes!

Alhamdulillah upon hearing that and also together with all the happy social stories fed to me by Jo from school, I am more confident that Raiyan will further improve in this sticky area and I am also more re-assured that other children would probably give him that chance to prove himself despite thinking him to be so different when they first meet him.

So confident am I that I’ve already started planning the massive birthday party celebration for Raiyan’s upcoming birthday in June! Contrary to before, I have already asked for Raiyan’s input on what the theme should be (surprisingly Dinasours and not animals!) and who he wanted to invite (so far he has independently told me Fadhil, Haziqah, Jian Rong and David who I’ve noticed have been the 4 consistent close friends he’s had for a while now. Ps.: something amusing happened with his “relationship” with Anna which I will elaborate in a future post!).

Our family is of course mighty excited for this event because not only will we able to SEE how much Raiyan has improved socially but it will also be the best opportunity for us all to celebrate all of Raiyan’s achievements this past year – nobody can deny that Raiyan deserves the party of a lifetime!


pinkilili said...

Yay, how fun that Raiyan has learned to enjoy birthday parties! The parties seem so important at that age :)

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Raiyan's progress is so amazing! Have fun planning his party!

PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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