Your child’s birthday party is near and like all fabulous parents you want it to be spectacular. Your little one is mad for ponies or dinosaurs or unicorns, or all three, and you want to plan an event worthy of that sweet little munchkin. You want kids’ party games that will entertain the lot. As your child’s classroom becomes more diverse there are few things that could help make the party fun for everyone.
Firstly, your kids are awesome. They are so naturally inclusive that they’ve likely already slid the party invitation into the cubby of the child with Autism or Down Syndrome or any kind of disorder that may make party going a little more difficult. Secondly, your child’s teachers are awesome, too. If, by chance, your child forgot to invite that little person, your child’s teacher will kindly and quietly remind them to include everyone.
Now, it’s up to you to offer a celebration and kids’ party games that are both first-rate and sensory-friendly and here are a few ways to make that happen.
1. Keep the number of children to a manageable amount: The entire class is fine, but it’s not a wedding, so let’s keep it to less than twenty. This will be more enjoyable for everyone involved and the child that may have sensory sensitivities to large crowds will be able to participate with more ease.
2. Avoid overwhelming places: What ever happened to a quiet birthday party at home? We all know they would be just as happy in your backyard. Furthermore, strange venues can be too much to handle for our sensory-defenders so let’s keep it simple. This will allow you to kick back in your outdoor lounger and get some sun.
3. Relax on the decorations: You are pumped that you cleaned out your local dollar store and you’re about to transform your house into party paradise but kids aren’t into excess and you’re creating more work for yourself when it comes time to clean up. While these things can be visually entertaining to you, they can cause overwhelming sensations of confusion, dizziness and anxiety in our more sensitive kids.
4. Serve simple foods: While the creations on Pinterest can be tempting. Your kids want the same simple foods that you did when you were a child. Simple snacks like popcorn and fresh fruit are a treat that won’t break the bank and they are healthy to boot.
5. Do a little research: Be prepared. If you know a child with a specific disability will be coming to your home it would be prudent to do a little research beforehand. This doesn’t mean you must find a peer-reviewed article on said disability but checking out a parent blog might not be a bad idea.
6. Invite the parents: Who doesn’t need extra hands at a child’s birthday. If the child’s parents are willing to attend, let them. They will be able to help their child navigate the party and they might be able to throw you a hand, too.
7. Explain the situation to your child: They may spend their days with the kiddo at school but outside of the comfort of the classroom and seasoned professionals ready to redirect or deescalate a potential situation, these kids can exhibit behaviors that could be troubling to other children. Once you’ve educated yourself, you are well-equipped to prepare your children.
8. Choose appropriate activities: Kids’ party games that are too physically or mentally demanding can be draining for any child but our sensory kids may suffer most of all. If you’re thoughtful in your choices you can make sure that all children will feel successful in whatever you choose.
9. Allow each child to bring their gift to the birthday child and open it together with the birthday child. I have seen this idea in action and it is brilliant. The birthday child can sit on a chair in the center of the room. An empty chair sits beside them. Each guest is given a number and when their number is called they can sit beside the birthday child while their gift is opened. Present opening can induce sensory overload because it tends to be a tad chaotic and distressing for all of us.
10. Transitions, Transitions, Transitions: If there is anything that will make your very inclusive party a success, it will be an attempt to prepare the children for what is coming up next. When the kids’ party games are over and you are ready to move on, let them know. When you are a sensory-sensitive kid, surprises can be too much to bear. So, if you’ve arranged the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to show up unannounced, you might want to take that child aside and prepare them before the big reveal.
Following these tips can help make your party a treat for everyone involved.