Friday, November 21, 2008

Explaining Birthdays

One of our challenges has been trying to figure out how to explain birthdays and age to Thane – how does one explain this kind of thing to a child with autism?

I know I have posted before that Thane decided over the summer that he was “just one” because there was only one of him. Of course, people like to ask little people like Thane how old they are and the look on their faces when he said he was “just one” was priceless.

I thought perhaps the Montessori Method of marking birthdays – the child carries a globe around a candle that represents the sun – might be a way to do it. Time and years don’t really make sense to a child Thane’s age regardless of their development, so certainly taking a child who thinks a bit differently and explaining age and years is a challenge.

Thane’s speech therapist suggested we make him a birthday book – like a social story – showing him as he has gotten older. I have been reluctant to do it because I had to sift through the “failure to thrive” photographs before he started eating a gluten-free diet in 2006 and sprouted up 8 inches and gained about 10 pounds over the next year. I also knew it would start us on the path of him wanting a birthday party and a birthday cake.

To teach Thane his name – and to answer the often-asked “What is your name?” – I wrote him a little book with pictures and named off a bunch of people he knew. It took a long time, 5-6 months, but it ended with a priceless moment of me calling him peanut and him saying, “No, I Thaney!” that I caught on video.

Anyway, last night I decided that with less than a month left until he turns five – gasp! – I really should get the book done. I spent a few hours putting something together, being repetitive in my text as suggested, and printed it out. Braeden wanted to read it to Thane, which was fine with me . . . though Thane wanted to just grab it and read it himself. Thane was happily looking through the pictures of him as a baby, and some of Braeden when he was younger too, but he has decided that on his birthday he will be nine. He doesn’t want five. He wants nine! He gave the book back, probably in hopes I would fix it and make him nine . . . but pretty much after all that effort he ran away screaming.


Heather said...

That's so cute!! I think the concept of birthdays are hard for any child to wrap their mind around. Corbin just turned six. We had two parties for him. A family one where he turned six. Then a friend one where he insists he turned seven and should be going into the first grade lol.

Also we went to my neices 1st birthday and Corbin could not understand that- as he said, "What? She's only zero this whole time??"

M~O said...

Yes, time is a hard concept to grasp! Can you make a book for me & make me -- um, how about 32 again???

Kristin said...

Hello - I know this isn’t really related to your last posting, but I wanted to let you know about an upcoming webinar that you might be interested in. On January 28, 2009, a dietitian by the name of Judy Converse, a licensed, registered dietitian with more than 20 years of experience, will be speaking about amino acids and autism. If you are interested, you can register for the free event at: