6 Easy Steps to Plan a Birthday Party for your Special Needs Kid
Celebrating the milestone of another year is a very special time with your little one. In the excitement, parents often get carried away with planning and before you know it, you have an extravagant, over the top, party. When planning a birthday for a child, and especially a child with special needs, it is important to keep a few things in mind in order to help ensure that the party is a success.
- Keep the party small and consider limiting the party to 1-2 hours. It is easy for children to become overwhelmed in crowds or noisy environments. It may be helpful to ask the parents to stay, just in case you need some help.
- Know the strengths of your child and guests and be sure to arrange for an activity that will be successful. Based on your child’s interests and activity level, decide whether or not to have a high energy party such as a jumping place, ball pit or playground vs. a lowkey party such as arts and crafts, a movie, sing-a-long, or story-time. There are some theaters that may be willing to host a birthday that is sensory-friendly by keeping the lights on, turning the volume down and allowing the children to move freely in the theater.
- If you are hosting the party outside your home, visit the location ahead of time to make sure that it is an appropriate environment and accessible to all the guests. If possible, have your child try out the activity to make sure that it is the right fit.
- You can prepare your child for the birthday party by talking about the schedule for the party so that they know what to expect. A visual schedule with pictures may also be helpful.
- Plan to include healthy snacks and party foods. Try to avoid too much sugar and be sure to check for food allergies and dietary restrictions.
- Be prepared for anything and try to be flexible. It is ok if not everyone wants to participate in all the party activities. Keep in mind that the excitement of a birthday party and change in routine may lead to some unexpected behaviors.
The key is to have a party where your child will be happy while at the same time causing you the least stress.
Happy birthday and enjoy the celebrations!