How to Throw a Party for Your ASD Child
Any kind of social gathering is one of the greatest causes of stress for children on the autistic spectrum; after all, these kids crave predictability and routine, and any change to a routine can cause anxiety in the life of the child as well as the caregiver. A birthday party is particularly stressful, with popping balloons, screaming children, unusual foods etc. If you have an ASD child and would love to throw a birthday party but have put off doing so due to fear of how it will affect your child, read on for some ideas on how to throw a party that will be fun yet not too overwhelming. After all, a party is also a great opportunity for your child to practice his or her social skills and to have the opportunity to build some friendships, something that many ASD children find difficult.
Choose a familiar location
Consider having the party in your backyard or another place very familiar to your child. A familiar setting will really help your child feel more relaxed and in control. If you do decide to have the party at a place that your child isn't familiar with, it's worth visiting the location with your child prior to the party so that he or she knows what to expect.
Pick familiar foods
Whether you are hiring caterers or providing the party food yourself, finger foods are a fuss-free way of feeding your child's guests whilst also ensuring that there are plenty of your child's favourite foods on offer. With small, bite-sized treats laid out on a table, your child may even be tempted to give a new food a try!
Save the presents for when the guests go home
Your child is already going to have lots to contend with just by being surrounded by lots of people, so instead of having everyone gathered around while your child opens presents, consider waiting until the guests have gone home before the unwrapping begins.
Prepare your child for what's to come
In order to ease your child into the change of routine and so that any surprises are minimised, talk to your child beforehand about the party, explaining what is going to happen, what time any planned events will take place, what food will be served and anything else you have planned for the party. Another idea for minimising surprises is to sit down with your child and write a social story about the party. You can't completely control how the party will go, but even a basic outline will help your child immensely.
Follow these steps and avoid any sensory-overloading accessories like balloons, and hopefully, your child will have a lovely birthday party that will be remembered for years to come.