The Party Trick of Autism


This weekend, we enjoyed a small and adorable birthday celebration for my small and adorable nephew, who turned a whopping one years old.

There was a more sour time in my life where I questioned the necessity of having parties for kids (even my own) who won’t remember birthdays before age five, but I know better  now. You can’t ruin it for kids at that age. They’ll love cake, toys, candles, whatever, and it really takes a lot of the long-term stress out. And if they don’t love it, they won’t remember. 

I don’t remember my early birthday parties. And since I stopped having them after I turned eight, that doesn’t leave a lot of them to remember.

But these days, I get to lean into my clever autistic trick to where others enjoy their parties more while I enjoy less of the party.

I’m not always social, I’m pretty low energy, I don’t add to the chaos, and I’m unusually fastidious. That’s a great combo for me, especially because no one else has it.

Because of that, my party trick is disappearing and making things vanish.

When we host, I’m cleaning. Or I’m picking up dishes as soon as people finish with them. Half the time, I’m at the sink, because I don’t want to deal with the aftermath during the aftermath.

When things go awry, or dogs go wild, or kids go nuts, my number is the first called. I’m not essential, and I’m not the life of any party. Until you need someone to put out a fire, plug a leak, or otherwise tackle a problem. Then it’s at that point my autistic social detachment becomes super-practical attachment; the party can go on while I’m off either luring wild animals or wild children away with peanut butter so a photoshoot can go off without being intruded.

Of course, I might enjoy a gathering here or there on the rare occasion I’m unencumbered with other ancillary duties.

But more often than not, I’m the heat sink, the heat check, or otherwise the Winston Wolf of the party scene — not so much to enjoy it, but to get rid of the mess and let others enjoy it better.

It could be worse.

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