Autism Friendly Birthday Party

December 2, 2014

Birthdays are meant to be a time of excitement. . . presents, cake, friends and a party!  When dealing with a birthday child that is on the spectrum, these things may not be a joyous as it sounds.  So what makes a birthday party autism friendly? While you know your child best, here are some ideas from other parents who have had success in throwing a successful party for a child with ASD.

  1. A theme – many children with autism have specific tastes and sometimes obsessions about certain things.  If your child loves Pokemon, make that the theme.  If your child loves Chess, then a chess theme it is.  Choose something that is there special interest for their special day.
  2. Stay with the familiar – Introducing a new activity or environment is not a good idea for a birthday party.  Home or a place that your child has visited regularly may the best choice to make him/her feel secure.
  3. The Guest list – this is where you will want to use your best judgement about how many people your child will be able to handle.  Keep the guest list small.  Some parents choose to only invite families from the autism community.  All guests should be people with a level of understanding and compassion for the overwhelming nature of birthday parties.
  4. Go easy on the treats – keep high sugar treats to a minimum.  Give treat bags with non-food items such as temporary tattoos or small gifts.
  5. Gifts – Opening gifts can be very stressful and the key moment when all eyes are on them.  Many children do not like being the center of attention and will cry at the thought of opening gifts in front of others.  Perhaps saving gifts for after the guests leave is a good idea or possibly forgo gifts for donations to a cause.

Celebrations should be fun.  Make your guest list and choose your location and activity wisely to ensure that fun is had by all.