Every child deserves to celebrate their birthday with the people who care about them. Yet, planning a birthday party for a child with ASD can be difficult due to the prevalence of sensory processing challenges.
The key to planning an autistic child's birthday is to prioritize their comfort and give them space to be themselves. Here are some top tips for putting together the ultimate ASD-friendly birthday party.
Get Your Child Involved
The first thing to do when organizing a birthday party is to get your child involved in planning their day. According to ABA Autism Therapy at abacentersfl.com/, “Children on the spectrum look to family and friends for stability and a sense of belonging, so any function where they can partake is a great experience for your child.”
Let your child pick their theme, whether dinosaurs, princesses, or something completely unique. Let them help pick colors and decorations to make the event their own.
Getting your child involved in the planning process will also help them mentally prepare for the event ahead. Engaging with decor and looking at images of birthday parties will help them better understand what will happen and reduce stress or anxiety about the event.
Choose Sensory-friendly Foods
Ensure your snack menu has plenty of sensory-friendly foods that your child enjoys eating. If your child has unique tastes due to their smell or texture aversions, include a few options for other guests who may not have the same preferences.
Try to avoid strong-smelling foods, especially if you're inviting other children with ASD.
Incorporate Sensory-friendly Activities
One of the common mistakes to avoid when planning an ASD-friendly party is overscheduling activities. Consider taking a free movement approach, providing several activities or zones for children to engage with.
Incorporating sensory activities like water tables, sandboxes, or modeling clay will ensure everyone has something to keep them busy. Consider forgoing a shared gift-opening experience to prevent overstimulation.
Designate a Quiet Space
Avoid loud music or bright lights when decorating for your child's birthday. Beyond this, it's nice to designate a quiet space away from the main activities where your child can go to decompress if they're feeling overwhelmed.
Having a designated quiet space is a must for your child and any other children with ASD.
Issues to Avoid
You know your child best. Consider what challenges they typically face in processing their surroundings and provide proactive solutions. For example, if you're worried about the chatter and noise bothering your child, be sure they have noise-canceling headphones nearby.
It's also important to let your child set the tone for the day; don't force them to participate in things if they don't want to. While having your child blow out their candles would be lovely, it's also ok if they'd rather sit back and wait for a slice of cake and ice cream.
Consider keeping the guest list small, inviting only a small group of close friends or family members.
With these tips, you can create a sensory-friendly birthday party for your ASD child and guests with sensory challenges.
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