“Let’s have a pretend birthday party. I want to have a birthday party before bedtime with Daddy, Mommy and Princess.”
Whose birthday is it?
Johnny brought over the Melissa and Doug birthday block cake and placed it on the table. Then he set the table by getting little plastic plates and put them in front of everyone. Then he had a request:
“We need to sing Happy Birthday to a Mommy now.”
So as Daddy helped out by singing I watched Johnny’s face. He was so happy and bursting with the biggest smiles as if we were really celebrating a birthday.
“Mommy you have to blow out the candle now.”
Johnny did what he always does at a birthday party…..try to help blow out the birthday candles. So I took a very dramatic deep breathe and blew my candle out. Then Johnny started serving the pretend cake. Princess served tea.
“Mommy you have to eat your cake now.”
Afterwards we were about to head upstairs when Johnny quickly said,
“we still have to do presents. Mommy needs to unwrap her gift.”
I was curious to see where he was going with this because I didn’t see him making a pretend gift or wrap something in paper. I asked him where he hid it.
“It’s by the music bin Mommy.”
Of course it is. I look over and he uses an overturned drum to hold the present. Inside the drum is a ribbon with a bell and a Maraca. I again make a big thing about unwrapping my present. I gave him a big hug and thanked him for the present and the impromptu party.
Afterwards Johnny’s Daddy and I were happily surprised that Johnny did such an imaginative pretend play. One the big things on a list of identifiers of Autism is “not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll).”
A year ago he would never go into such detail as if he’s telling a story. Two years ago he would have needed a lot of prompting about how to do pretend. Three years ago he would not have liked playing pretend at all.
Moments like this when we sit back and share a little smile and know we have just experienced another milestone that the doctors didn’t think he would ever learn to do. He has done small pretend plays with stuffed animals and dolls but to see him lead an entire play activity and direct all of us and suggest script and think of things on the fly we know this is big. I wonder where he will take me tomorrow or what party we will celebrate? For all the parents out there who know how much work goes into trying to help your child embrace their imagination and let it fly you know how big this is when your almost seven year old Autistic child decides to set up a pretend birthday party for you.