Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surviving Birthday Parties with Kids with Special Needs

This weekend, my daughter is having a birthday party. It will be at a tea room and she is so excited about the tea party they will have there as well as the dress up, make up, nails painted, and other fun! I just bought the party favors this morning and I am ready for the party, except for making her the "special" cupcakes because of her food allergies- I will make those the morning of the party.

This gets me thinking of alot of the birthday parties I have attended of some of my clients, or where I have went to a party and a kid with special needs has been there. Parties are hard for many of these kids, especially if they aren't verbal or mobile, or get easily overwhelmed by the noise and movement of all of the other kids.

A couple of tips I see that have helped kids with special needs survive the party is:

  • Prepare them for what will be happening at the party and talk about it or show pictures ahead of time. Consider making a story about it so the events aren't so unpredictable. If the party is at a facility or home he has never been to, show up a few days ahead of time to familiarize the child with the surroundings.

  • Find out what is on the menu. If the child is a picky eater or has food allergies, make sure you pack snacks.

  • Allow the child to not keep up with the others or sit next to the others if he is not ready. If he has difficulties transitioning from one activity to another, don't expect him to participate in all activities. His idea of fun may be different than the other kids' ideas of fun. If the child has poor balance or afraid he'll fall, then maybe being near the child or partnering him up with another "helpful" kid might make him more willing to participate.

  • If he is slow to warm up, show up 15-30 minutes early to the party.

  • If the child is overly sensitive to noises, go in another room or go outside while the "Happy Birthday" song is being sung or horns are being blown

  • If the child is obsessed or "stuck" on a balloon or other birthday decoration, don't hesitate to let him play with it if the hostess is okay with that. If you know that this may happen ahead of time, maybe buy a special balloon for your child.

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