Question: Two of my closest friends have a son, 6, who is a year younger than ours. This is the second year in a row that my son has not been invited to their son's birthday party. Every year we invite their son to our boy's birthday and he comes and has a good time.
My son is not the easiest kid in the world. He has ADHD and is full of energy. He's way ahead academically, but behind socially.
We see our friends five or six times a year, and the kids always have a good time. I'm feeling kind of angry and don't know what to do about it.
Answer: You are putting all the weight of your son's ADHD and social struggles on this one birthday party - understandably, but not helpfully. Your son's social future does not hinge on this party. Going would offer an hour or two of needed social practice, yes, and might give him a temporary shot of confidence, but that's it.
It is the nature of special-needs parenthood to live and die by each chance to ease your child's pain. That's especially true when the source of pain itself blocks access to healing: Kids need peer interaction to develop social skills - and the ones who need social skills are most excluded by peers.
Here's what your boy needs you to do:
Take the longest possible view, versus overthinking one party;
Promote independent sources of confidence - art, puzzles, reading, pets - to counteract the bruising by peers;
Give him regular, alternative ways to develop social skills. That could mean a hobby or sport he's good at, a therapist-run social skills group, or some extra parental fanning of friendship sparks.
Focus on the physical. ADHD + high energy + sensitivity = a kid who can benefit greatly from a physical outlet, be it sports, martial arts, scouting, dance, a climbing-gym membership.
These efforts will help your son and help you brush off the birthday snub, which I strongly advise - along with assuming it's not really a snub. Little-kid birthdays tend to be about convenience.