Parties are always a hard time for an autistic child. I know my son gets overwhelmed for festivities or in large groups. He will start to stim and be “in his world.” Plus, he will not interact with anyone, and people wonder what is wrong with him or why he doesn’t say “hi” to them.
I wanted others to understand that it is okay, and here are some great tips to cope.
- Prepare Your Child: Keep your child updated. Let them know months before and the time leading up to the party. Reiterate to them weeks and days prior so that they understand and can ready themselves for the celebrations. I let my son use his ‘calendar planner.’
- Choose a Familiar Venue: This step might be tough, but try to make it as easy as possible. We live out of town, but still visit grandma and grandpa’s home often. Let your child know if they need to travel (like we do), how long it will take to get there, and where it will be taking place. Help them prepare by stating “remember when we went here.” I let my son play on his ipad.
- Limit the Number of Guests: This point may also be difficult to do, but know that you need to have a list and let your family/friends know that if they can limit the number of attendees, it might benefit your child better. Help your child be ready for the guests by saying, “remember your cousin, Billy.”
- Stick to Your Party End Time: Keep festivities short and sweet. Too much party time can cause your child overstimulation or aggression. I always tell my son we have x minutes, and we will be going home at x time. This acknowledgment allows him to enjoy himself before we leave. Reassuring any child with autism is always the best measure so that they can cope before the action happens.
- Maintain Your Schedule: Having a schedule at a celebration can happen. Try to keep eating on track. Bring some snacks or a meal so that your child doesn’t get upset if necessary.
All of these factors might be hard to accomplish, but try to prepare your child as much as you can. Sticking to this checklist can improve and brace them mentally.
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