January 25, 2016 | In: Autism Resources , Why We Rock
Kids love birthday parties — especially their own. With the cake, candy, presents, and fun activities, what’s not to like?
Children aren’t the only ones who love their birthdays. For parents, it’s a special day to remember how amazing it was to bring this child into your life and how grateful and thankful you are for him or her. No matter how fun and exciting you know the event will be, planning a rockin’ birthday party for his or her special day is sometimes easier said than done, and if you’re a parent of a child with special needs then it can get even more complicated.
How Your We Rock the Spectrum Gym Can Host Inclusive Birthday Parties
We Rock the Spectrum believes in inclusion and caters to every child regardless of his or her development. We’re prepared to host any birthday party that you want or that you need for your child and our helpful staff can be there to set up, take down, or even assist with guests.
Introduce autism for those who don’t know
Depending on who is invited to the party, not every child is going to be aware about autism and how it works. That’s why before the party begins, we recommend gathering all the children into a talking circle and explaining what it is and how they can help. If you’re worried about explaining autism to others, we recommend checking out this blog post on how to explain autism to neurotypical children.
Hang a visual schedule of the day’s events
Children on the spectrum have a harder time transitioning between activities. Hanging up a visual schedule of the day’s events on a wall, as well as going over the schedule with the kids, can help when it comes time to change from one activity to the next. We’ve also found it’s helpful to let kids know how much longer they have with a certain activity. Giving them warnings such as “10 more minutes with arts and crafts before we start limbo” can really help to prepare their mind to make the transition from stopping arts and crafts to starting a game of limbo.
Organize familiar activities
No matter the child, unfamiliar activities with new people can be overwhelming. Help parents know that if their child in particular is shy to trying new things, be sure to have a good balance of activities inside their comfort level and outside. If they have a certain activity they do daily, find time to make it possible. Bring some of their favorite toys from home (but be sure to not leave them behind!), and be sure to be open in your communication with them about what activities you were thinking of organizing. Most children will let you know if it’s something they want or not.
Be mindful of food allergies
It’s a fact that many children with autism struggle with weight issues and often have strict diets. Make sure to have lots of options available. You can never go wrong with a delicious veggie and hummus platter, but if you were hoping for something sweeter, make sure to include some gluten free options as well. Some parents even add a section on the invitations to list food allergies, which we think is a great idea.
Have help on hand
Enlist friends, family members, therapists, and anyone else you can think of to help you when the time comes. At We Rock the Spectrum, our gyms offer a package with staff assistance and many parents say it’s worth it! Extra hands to help out with activities, set up, food, and play can be something that’s often overlooked but so necessary.
Prepare for over-stimulation
Children with autism have meltdowns. It’s a fact of life for many of them, and often it has nothing to do with anger or other emotions but rather because they become over stimulated. Since it’s a possibility, have a plan. Many parents come up with a meltdown plan with their child’s input, as well.
We encourage our gym owners to feature quiet rooms where children can go to de-stress. If your gym or party place doesn’t have that, there are still things you can do! Provide a weighted blanket, some sensory toys, arrange to block off a section for quiet space. Prepare this area in advance — you’ll be happy you did!
Get your very own franchise! We Rock the Spectrum gyms offer an array of birthday packages that include food, costumes, games, and fun! Contact We Rock the Spectrum Corporate today about starting your own franchise.