Lisa Schramel was trying to plan a birthday party for her son Mathias, but it quickly turned into a heartbreaking event. Even though she was excited to celebrate his sixth birthday, none of the kids that were invited RSPV'd.
Schramel explained that “Back in the beginning of October I sent out invitations to his class. I gave the parents a couple months’ notice, it was an RSVP. It was going to be at the movie theater the day after Thor opened. Mathias was really looking forward to it. The goal was to get enough kids, it was a minimum of 10, and we were willing to pay for that, it was no big deal."
But after several days the still hadn't heard back. “We waited to hear from people and weren’t hearing anything. We started looking at other options like a home party and I went on Facebook to vent a little. That’s all I wanted to do, but it went from venting to all these people wanting to make his big day special.”
She shared her frustration with her friends, trying to vent out her anger before breaking the news to her son.
But her post started to gain traction, and her community came together in a big way to make sure that Mathias wasn't spending his birthday alone...
“All these people started to offer to do these things. It’s hard with an autistic child and hard to get people to understand that sometimes his behavior is difficult to deal with, but he has a good heart,” Schramel said. “All these people decided they wanted to come. I think about 218 people were interested in doing something. At that point I had 15 hours to put it together.”
They decided to go to a local park to celebrate with over 200 people joining them. Schramel was grateful that the community came together to support her.
“We were surprised that someone had made five cakes and people ordered pizzas from Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s,” said Schramel. “The table was piled with gifts ... we asked people to make donations to the zoo or animal shelter. Mathias thought it would be nice to donate gifts to the puppies and kitties, so he donated some gifts to the animal shelter and also Toys for Tots.”
Mathias was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. “His milestones didn’t come easy. He didn’t speak until he was almost two-and-a-half,” said Schramel. “He’s got intense sensory issues. What he eats is always on a strict guideline and what he touches. The world is different for Mathias.”
Mathias has been struggling in class, and his mother suspects that's why people didn't come to his party. "We have to understand that they see the world through a bullhorn. Everything is louder, bigger and they feel trapped. That’s what causes him to act out. When I first got him into school he would scream and he would have to be restrained in order for me to leave. That was terrible, it’s probably why parents didn’t want their kids to come to his birthday party.”
“Trust me, we’re doing our best. When you have an autistic child your hopes and dreams are different. You hope people are nice to him, you hope he learns to tie his shoe, you hope he learns to make food for himself. All these simple tasks that come easy to other children,” she said. “I dream he has a quality of life outside of home and that one day he will experience normalcy.”
At least Mathias got to experience the best birthday party ever, courtesy of the lovely people of his town!