My 3 sons attended and participated in a wedding! Not only that, but our family enjoyed the full wedding weekend in Wichita, KS. Hotel room, rehearsal dinner, ceremony, wedding reception and all. We started prepping the boys a month in advance before my brother’s wedding on 5/21/2016. I made a mental checklist of what we would work on:
1. Sitting at the table. We practiced waiting until everyone had finished eating to leave the table. We practiced sitting nicely and not pretending to fall out of our chairs(Taj), or take bites of food while spinning in circles(Savion), or pressing the lettuce leaves up against our faces(Anwar). The wall next to our dining table has a picture with eating icons and text. “Use fork, ” “pass the pitcher” and “more” are a few, they help foster speech and manners. I used the icons often as we prepared for the wedding.
2. The “wedding walk.” We emphasized that in a wedding we would walk slowly. We walked from room to room, usually before dinner, at a measured pace. Taj thought it was funny and took tiny snail steps at first. Savion would take a step, run in place and flap his arms, take a step, and say “oh boy, oh boy oh boy!” Anwar looked at me perplexed, as if to say, “Why in the world are we walking from room to room holding hands? We hold hands outside, on the sidewalk.” It was a good thing that we started practicing early.
3. Our providers looked for footage of a simple wedding ceremony online. One was found to their liking, but the entire bridal party was crying. Scratch that idea. We didn’t want the boys to associate weddings solely with tears. They did find a nice social story with pictures of a bride and groom during a ceremony, also other members of the ceremonial party.
4. I looked for social stories on the specific topics of “keeping our hands out of our pants,” and “fingers out of our nose.” There were printables online and I downloaded a kindle book. But in the end, I took one of their composition books and drew simple stick figures with text the boys could understand.
5. I looked for fidgets(manipulatives that can be used when children are sitting or waiting to keep them busy). Playdoh, pipe cleaners, books, etc..The providers took notice of things that calmed the boys when anxious or overwhelmed.
However it was not just the preparation that allowed the family to stay and enjoy the weekend. It was also the people who came to assist us and the way the ceremony and reception were organized. To be continued…