The idea of hosting any type of get together, let alone a baby shower for 30 people, was not something I would even consider before getting Sophia’s Autism Service Dog. When Sophia was first learning to talk, I remember her crying “I want to go home” when people would come to our house. She never liked the idea of guests sitting in our living room. It took me a while to figure out what she meant by that. Sometimes she would actually scream those words while standing on my coffee table as guests sat on my couch. Eventually I figured out that she wanted everyone else to go home, or that she needed her version of home (without guests) to return immediately.
Part of the benefits of having Truman, Sophia’s Autism Service Dog, is that when she goes into her room for quiet time or “alone time” as she now calls it, she doesn’t actually have to be alone. She can have her friend Truman. So when the opportunity to host a baby shower for my sister came, I took it.
I coached Sophia through her coping options before the party arrived. I let her know what was going to happen in advance and explained that if she got scared, she could go upstairs with Truman or play on the computer in the den. The night before, I put her to sleep and then got busy moving furniture around to set 25 people. I found it funny that Truman reacted almost worse than Sophia to the furniture not being where it should be. He couldn’t lay down to sleep until I put his “place” back where it normally is.
By the time guests began arriving, I could see Sophia’s tension rise. As I came around the corner, I saw her hiding under the dining room table. She was saying “I want to go home!” I asked her if she wanted to go upstairs and she did. Truman escorted her. An hour and half later, she came down and asked for a piece of cake. She was totally content playing with Truman in hour room all that time.
This is a huge success for her to be able to entertain herself with Truman and have a real companion and friend. It also allows our family a new level of normalcy to have an option to have guests over again without major meltdowns!