ASD and weddings - why our son won't be attending all of our wedding
Wedding season has begun and this week we are talking to two women about their weddings and the excitement and joy of planning the perfect day. Today Alice talks to us about her upcoming wedding and how part of her planning revolves around her son who has an ASD diagnosis and severe learning difficulties and her decision for him to not attend all of her wedding.
I’m getting married in a month and I’m still struggling to feel anything of excitement or nerves. Excitement will kick in but with me, things never really hit me until the last minute (is this good?) I won’t lie though, the thought of walking into a room full of fifty people scares the life out of me but thankfully little else has bothered me during the organisation process.
Have I bought any shoes yet? Nope. That’s next weeks task.
Is it bad that I’ve left nearly everything to the last minute or merely an ode to our chilled out nature? We have booked all the essentials - venue, ceremony, photographer, caterer, etc. We just have the fine detail to complete such as decorations for the reception and accessories for myself and the girls. Oh and shoes.
Our wedding is being held at our local register office. It’s a beautiful old building, previously a Victorian prison and where the programme Porridge was filmed! The reception is a laid back pub garden BBQ in the countryside and will prove wonderful as long as it doesn’t rain.
The element that I’m most excited about (at the moment) is the flowers. We are using a local florist who grows all her stock within our county so instead of relying on someone importing perfectly formed flowers from abroad, I will have the chance to go through this lady's field a few days before the wedding and pick a bucket full of the ones I really like. How cool is that?! I love the rustic look so this suits me perfectly.
We have two daughters - an eight year old and a twenty two month old who no doubt will make herself apparent during the ceremony. Our intention is that they walk in with me and my dad and then sit with my parents for the duration but in all likelihood, our youngest will cling to me like a baby monkey and refuse to go anywhere. I’m fully prepared for this and intend to just go with the flow!
This image shows our daughters and my son Jude. He is eleven and has autism and severe learning disabilities. It may be a controversial comment to make but he will not be attending all of our wedding as I don’t think he will cope very well with the processing involved in a day full of stimulation. He may not attend any of it, we’re waiting to see how he is on the day. I want, for once, to be able to relax and not worry about him. I spend literally every minute of every day worry about him, tending to him, helping him and I just want our day to be about us.
Jude will spend the afternoon with his beloved Support Worker who typically visits him every other Sunday for a few hours but is instead using her hours for our wedding day. We have a very well loved (by Jude), babysitter ensuring his evening and bedtime routine is as he is used to.
Is that awful? Typically for mothers around the world, I feel horribly guilty whatever I choose to do. But in reality, I think Jude would be happier doing things he is familiar with. He has no idea what a wedding is or what marriage means; he would have absolutely no idea why everyone is sitting in a room whilst we stand at the front saying random sentences and would think nothing of just getting up and either screaming, running around, chatting over the registrar or some other unpredictable Jude-like action. This sort of remit isn’t in his world and I think for this one individual case, I need to think of the girls, Joe and myself as priority.
What I love about our planned day is that there is no structured formality. Why does a wedding have to be so predictable? It’s a celebration and one we want our guests to enjoy and feel relaxed within. We have no speeches, no cutting of the cake (in fact we have cupcakes), no table plans and not much tradition as such. I know it’s very much down to individual taste and I’m in no way saying that large weddings aren’t good, in fact I love them but it just isn’t for us. We have fifty guests on the day and being a bit shy by nature, I’m somewhat anxious but bemused by the thought of having all the people closest to us in the world in one room at the same time. And they’re all there for us. That’s just amazing and terrifying at the same time!
Alice writes about her life with her son, you can find more on her blog Living with a Jude.
I love people that show a bit of individuality. What was the most unique wedding you have attended? How did you plan your wedding around your family's impairments? Do you have any wedding hints and tips?