“Well, thank you so much! We had a wonderful time,” I offered to the party host.
“Dessert,” I heard Catelyn say to my side.
“Sure!” the host replied to me, “So, glad you could make it!”
“Some cake…” I heard her try again.
I knew what Cate was getting at. We went to our friend’s sons birthday party and were able to stay for a couple of hours. But our schedule forced us to have to leave.
Before the birthday cake was brought out and cut.
My eyes stayed focused on the host, with a small smile. I stole a peek down at Cate to see her staring at the host.
“Well, let us go say goodbye to the birthday boy one more time before we head out. Thanks again!”
I tried to take Cate’s hand and move her along, but she was not budging. As I headed to the kitchen for a final goodbye, I heard her say it one more time to the host,
“I would like. Some birthday cake.”
“C’mon Cate!” I called over my shoulder.
And as I turned, I saw the host had turned to address other party guests. Cate then gave up on her quest for cake and was sulking towards me. Giving me the same stink eye I was giving to her.
Difficulties with social interaction can take many different forms.
I do love this photo, because it sums up one of the biggest problems we face for Catelyn.
At the party, Catelyn wasn’t trying to be rude. She wasn’t trying to be bad. She wanted cake. And social tact was lost on her.
When I told her later in the car on the way home that we had to leave before the cake was cut and that it was impolite to ask for the cake, her response was simple.
“It was a birthday party. There was supposed to be cake.”
And then because I pointed out something she did wrong, she started to cry. Loudly.
Catelyn is still learning social cues. She is still learning about social interaction. And appropriate social behavior. In short, socializing is confusing for Cate.
I thought about this again today at a play Catelyn was performing in.
This week Catelyn got to do one of her favorite things.
Of course, she loved it. The camp created an idea, wrote a script, auditioned for roles and today, they had their performance.
Catelyn did great. Had no fear, memorized all her lines and performed the role tailored to her with great gusto.
So she was visibly disappointed when her peers did not do the same.
I cringed in my seat when I saw her hands go up in frustration at her peers when they forgot their lines. Eventually some just held their scripts and the story went on without any hitches.
It was a fun story and there were wonderful performance by all!
I wondered though. Did other people see her displeasure? Instead of being encouraging or helpful, Catelyn became frustrated and upset at her peers. During a performance.
People are not going to ask for an explanation of why someone would do something like that. Or ask for a party host to serve birthday cake based on Cate’s schedule. They will simply make an internal judgement on the behavior of “that girl.”
Which can make Catelyn’s road ahead have a few more bumps than she already faces.
I still reference this article frequently when I think about the challenges for Catelyn. I encourage you to check it out.
It helps to reinforce the idea that autism is autism. And even though Catelyn appears to be fine to the outsider, she is still facing many challenges, as listed in the article:
- Extreme Sensory Issues
- Social “Cluelessness”
- Anxiety and Depression
- Lack of Executive Planning
- Emotional Disregulation
- Difficulties with Transitions and Change
- Difficulty Following Verbal Commands
Cate will continue to have to work at her challenges, including to learn appropriate social behavior. And I will continue to try to help others learn about the challenges of those with autism.