Celebrating my ASD twins’ third birthday!
When I think about how most kids celebrate their birthdays, I am filled with anxiety about how we celebrate things for my twins. It’s completely unnecessary, of course, but it’s so hard not to compare ourselves to those around us, and what we see on the internet.
While other parents curate mountains of gifts, a fully decorated house, and beautiful spreads of cakes, we haven’t been inclined to do any of this for the twins. The reality is that they have no understanding that it’s their birthday, and that they don’t enjoy toys in the way that other children do. Even their eating habits are so fussy that they don’t really want to entertain the concept of cake 99% of the time.
This year, I wracked my brain trying to think of ways to make the twins’ birthday special, even if they weren’t fully aware of what was going on. Their birthday is just the day before mine, so we ended up combining all the birthday celebrations together and it turned out to be wonderfully successful!
My husband and I had planned to go away with friends for an early celebration of my 30th birthday, and as soon as we realised we would have no childcare and the twins would be coming with us, I factored this in to booking the place where we would stay. A friend helped me look through hundreds of AirBnb listings, and we eventually found somewhere that suited our needs and also had a big, enclosed garden that had a little playground in it! The twins absolutely love being able to roam around outside, and it’s not something they can do at home, so this was fantastic for them.
The trip away ended up being perfect, and both twins had a fantastic time (apart from one hunger related meltdown). They happily ran around in the garden, and they had beautiful interactions with the friends that had come to stay for the weekend.
On our way home from this trip, we made a slight detour to the Welsh Mountain Zoo – somewhere that my husband and I have very fond memories of but the twins have never visited. We asked if any of our friends wanted to join us, and three ended up coming along. The twins had more positive interactions with friends, and showed a mild curiosity at many of the animals we saw, which is better than last time we visited a farm with animals!
On the whole, I had an amazing weekend, but I felt incredibly happy knowing that the twins had also had a great time. Our birthdays were on the days that followed, and we didn’t plan anything extravagant. On the twins’ birthdays, we drove over to their grandma and grandad’s house with a couple of presents. I had found a flashy plastic Hey Duggee phone that I was pretty sure my son would show an interest in, as he loves Duggee, and has started showing an interest in pressing buttons. For my daughter, I bought her a long string of Christmas tree beads as she loves playing with these at nursery, and a wooden toy biscuit barrel, complete with biscuits. We encouraged them to open their presents at Grandma and Grandad’s house, and my son had a go at unwrapping, but my daughter wasn’t very interested.
They both loved their presents, which made my heart sing a little bit. I think I made the right choice to just get them a very few select things, rather than overwhelming them with lots of gifts that they wouldn’t be interested in!
We bought a cake for my birthday, but popped some extra candles on for the twins. They seemed to be absolutely fascinated by the candles, but as expected, neither one of them were particularly interested in eating the cake!
For my birthday, we headed to a nearby Banksy exhibition and had a low key lunch at Nandos – somewhere we know there is food that the twins will eat.
It’s a weird experience for me, having to think a little bit outside the box about ways to celebrate for the twins. Just having a pile of presents wouldn’t make their day special, as they wouldn’t be interested. I adore giving gifts, and it’s got to me a couple of times – the fact that my children don’t get joy from such things. I think we did pretty well at the end of the day though – we all had some brilliant extended birthday celebrations and made some very happy memories!