|Here's the cake|
Classmate: "Is it Jacob's birthday?"
Dad: "It's his birthday tomorrow."
Classmate: "Can I come to his birthday party?"
Dad: "He's not having a party like that. We're having a small party at his Grandma's house."
And that was it. It felt kind of awkward explaining that Jacob wasn't having a party with his friends. I'm sure that his classmate would understand if I said that Jacob doesn't like parties like that. After all, the classmate has seen Jacob in action, in class, almost everyday. But I felt kind of bad not having a typical party for Jacob. It's something that every "normal" kid looks forward to right? But with a party of out of control kids, all on chocolate, there's the potential for a meltdown and a meltdown would ruin Jacob's birthday. We tend to follow our own guidelines when it comes to planning a party for Jacob. So here's a list of ideas that you can use, to help plan a party for a child with an ASD.
- Have the party on the weekend. This is a no brainer. Kids parties are easier to handle on a weekend. This way there's less of a chance that your child will be exhausted after a long day at school. And they won't be distracted in class by the pending celebration.
- Limit the number of children at the party. This can be very difficult. How do you only invite 5 or 6 classmates to a party? The last thing Jacob would want would be to make all his friends feel sad because they weren't invited. If we plan to invite kids, we usually invite family friends. The best parties that we've had for Jacob, had the fewest kids present.
- Don't have the party at home. If you're planning to invite 15-20 kids to your party, you might want to have it at an alternate location. Jacob views our house as a sanctuary and it's a place he likes to retreat to when he feels stressed out or anxious.. And if we had a dozen screaming kids in our house, Jacob would definitely have a meltdown and retreat to his room (which he's done before). So you might consider having the party at a place like Chatters, or a bowling alley. Or you could have it at a relative house like we do.
- Let everyone know that you may have to leave the party. We had a party for Jacob at Grandma's house before and Jacob felt unhappy and wanted to leave. So that's what we did. It's just not worth the meltdown and my family understands. I know it's hard to do, especially if you've paid for the party, but you may have to leave the party. After a short break or walk around the block, your child may feel like returning.
- Have more adults at the party. It seems to me that Jacob feels more comfortable when he's with adults than with kids. This will also make the child whose birthday it is feel more fulfilled. Who wants a party with no one there? This way, your child will be in a setting full of people who hopefully understand how to handle a child with special needs.
|Here's Jacob enjoying some cake at Grandma's|