Are young children with autism encouraged to NOT attend social fuctions?

Question:I don't know much about autism but we have a friend whose son is 4 and she does not take him many places (zoo, birthday parties, pool, etc...) for fear that he will have a meltdown due to his autism. We invited her and her family for a bbq and also saw them for a play date and he's been great, excellent behavior and having fun. I'm just curious if children this age are NOT encouraged to attend social functions for a specific reason based on their autism? I know I have no idea what my friend goes through but in my view, I would think taking her son to functions may help him in developing better social skills? We invited her to our son's birthday (pool party then our house for cake) and she declined saying it would be too much and that since her son is on a gluten diet, it would be too difficult. I told her we would be more than accomodating with the food but she refused. I just want to understand more. Thanks!




Answers:
In this situation it sounds like your friend is embarrassed of what might happen in a social situation if her son were to have a melt down. Even though Autism is everywhere people who do not have a working knowledge of it judge the parents harshly. I've taken my students with Autism on field trips into grocery stores to work and acceptable behavior, when they have meltdowns older individuals will tell me that I need to learn how to discipline the brats.

Often times when a child with Autism does have a meltdown its very hard to calm them down, especially if they are in a place that they are unfamiliar with.

The only sure fire way to combat the meltdowns is to keep working at it, expose him to social situations, teach him what is expected of him. Provide pictures of what activities will be avaliable for him to do, make a social story of what to expect, provide a quiet place for him if he becomes overstimulated from the party.

The gluten free diet is very hard to do. Some children with Autism crave gluten like its a drug. Typically my students will only eat cheetos, bread, and macaroni and cheese. Some doctors and scientists say that removing gluten can help the child behave and function better.

You're a good friend for wanting to understand more.
it is probably the stimuli from being around so many people. which is a shame. i have a friend who has an autistic boy,she has to take him,because she has a younger "normal" boy. he is very good in crowds. you`re right, but it`s probably hard on her worrying if he`s going to have a meltdown.
autism is really individual to the child...and they can handle certain things but some are just too overwhelming...too many people...too many choices for them to have...the birthday party would have been a disaster for him because being on a gluten diet means this child is denied the foods he really really wants...and you would have them there...whether you were accommodating to his needs...if he were to see them...it would be the only thing he could think about...and he would meltdown...the other thing people don't realize and it is not widely discussed is that autistic children often have problems with bowel movements and have frequent accidents which is embarrassing for not only the child but the parent...this can happen well into their teens...there are so many aspects of autism which may be individual to that child i would sit down with coffee and talk to your friend to find out what needs to be accommodating to her child should you want to spend more time with her...they do not do well with change or new situations which is probably why the zoo and such are not great ideas for him...just ask...and make sure you heed what she tells you...it is for a reason and while you may think he should be able to get over it with some exposure...a lot of times it does more damage and they have to start their work all over again...it is a fascinating disorder...
Autistic, disabled or any children must,as a duty,be integrated
with all children in all forms of our society be it party's zoo visits, holidays or any fun activity's.
My daughter is a special needs teacher who would love
to speak to your friend and give her pointers
and assurance about her child not missing out.
My last, eighteen month old down syndrome, grandson is love
and a lovely little guy.
according to the Autism Society of America
Reactions from Society and Feelings of Isolation. Taking an individual with autism out into the community can be a source of stress for parents. People may stare, make comments or fail to understand any mishaps or behaviors that may occur. For example, individuals with autism have been seen taking a stranger's food right off their plate. As a result of these potential experiences, families often feel uncomfortable taking their child to the homes of friends or relatives. This makes holidays an especially difficult time for these families. Feeling like they cannot socialize or relate to others, parents of children on the autism spectrum may experience a sense of isolation from their friends, relatives and community.

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