Are in need of birthday party ideas for your autistic child? I’ll be the first to admit that planning a birthday party was never my strong suit. Sure, I love to plan, but a birthday party was just a little bit out of my league. I can remember the birthday parties my mom planned for me and it struck me- I would likely never plan an autism birthday party.
Part of it has to do with when my daughter’s birthday is, but then there are other factors like friends and locations. Turns out that I wasn’t alone in this struggle.
The autism birthday party
Sweet B’s birthday is in July, so I attribute that to one reason why I never really planned a big birthday party for her. Yes, we had small parties with family members, but beyond that we didn’t do much. Sweet B didn’t really understand the concept of birthdays until she was around 10 years of age, anyway. Still, I wanted to see what fellow moms did when it came to planning a birthday party for an autistic child.
Here are real life pointers, tips, and reminders to help make your child’s day special (and what to expect if you should ever be invited to a birthday party for a child with autism).
How to Plan a Birthday Party for an Autistic Child
* Have a small gathering with just family, then have your child (if they are able) pick two friends to spend the night
* Let the birthday child have as big a part in the planning process as possible.
* Make a list of at least a few kids that are a good fit for your child, and plan the party date to fit their schedule. Be sure to tell the parents that you want to find a date that works for their child because their child is such a support to yours (or whatever is true). Invite others if you wish.
* Tell your child exactly what will happen on the day of the party, right down to the flavor of potato chips. This is true for guests with ASD also. If your child is invited to a party, phone and ask for info.
* Politely chase down RSVPs so that your child knows who will be there. Find a reason to call a day or 2 before the party. It could be to clarify directions to the place, or suggest appropriate attire for the activity, or to ask about food allergies.
The real reason is to subtly remind the parents about the event.
Be sure to tell the parent that your child is looking forward to seeing “Bobby” there.
* Plan a party based around your child’s favorite activities (trampoline, swimming, etc.) as your child might be more willing to participate in the party.
* Keep in mind that your child may not want to participate in all parts of the birthday party (cake, presents, etc.) and when they need a break- let them have a break. This is also true for ASD kids attending parties.
Watch your child to make sure they aren’t getting too overwhelmed and offer them a break if they look like they need it.
* You know your child best. Create or plan a party that’s going to work best for your child. This is their day, after all, and even if Aunt Sally might want to have a big to-do at the zoo.. you know, in your heart of hearts, that it could be a disaster.
* If you’re planning a birthday party at a venue, make sure you scope out this venue as much as possible. From smells, to lighting, to noises- ASD kids get easily overwhelmed. Maybe choose a place that your child enjoys visiting.
Or, if you’ve been to a birthday party that was hosted there in the past, consider that venue for your child.
How to Politely Chase Down Guests for Your Autistic Child’s Birthday Party
Bonus tip for parents of children who are invited to a birthday party:
* If your child has been invited to a birthday party for a child with ASD, please try to make good on your RSVP. If you genuinely cannot attend, that’s fine. This isn’t to call out moms, just a general rule of thumb. And good practice in general.
Planning a birthday party for an autistic child really isn’t much different than planning a birthday party for a “typical” child. You know your child best. You know their interests. And you know their limits.
Whenever possible, try to involve them in the planning process.
Need more tips?
Be sure to check out this post for hosting an autism inclusive birthday party.