We started school in September and that means the birthday party invites have started!
When Sharon sent me a message about guest posting about this subject, I jumped at the chance because honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience dealing with special needs children outside of hearing impairments so I don’t feel qualified to talk about the subject or offer useful advice. However, making sure special needs children feel included is essential and I have heard the horrible stories of plenty of kids being left out from their classmate’s functions and as a parent, it’s heartbreaking to see your child be excluded based on who they are. Honestly, I think the main reason for this is parents don’t know how to accommodate special needs kids better and therefore try to avoid the situation altogether.
This is where Sharon from Love Lucia’s Parties comes in, she shares her tips to make your party more welcoming for those with special needs so that everyone is included and has a great time!
A Bit About Sharon
Sharon and Lucia from Love Lucia’s Parties have worked with countless clients with special needs requirements; from partially sighted and registered blind children, young adults with severe learning difficulties to terminally ill children to name a few. We believe the key to ensuring that the party is a success, is communication. Investing time with the party hosts to fully understand the needs of everyone involved is paramount, it provides confidence that all factors are covered on your special day, which will enable everyone to relax and enjoy the party.
Throwing a party is a stressful event even if you are a pro at it. But, the efforts are completely worth it, if it becomes a success and everyone enjoys the gathering. One of the challenges of a party is to make sure that everybody is welcome including kids with special needs. For a successful party to be hosted, here are a couple of pointers we feel are important.
Perhaps, the worst emotion that a child can feel is rejection, by social exclusion to a classmate’s birthday party because of special needs. However, bear in mind that it’s not the kids who make the final list of invitees. Mums or Dads are ultimately responsible for inviting guests to the shindig so do a favour to fellow parents and welcome everyone including friends with special needs kids.
Reach Out to the Parent
Simply guessing what the disabilities and capabilities are of your young guest is never a good idea. Talk to the parent when they confirm the invitation to find out the special needs of the child. They might be in a wheelchair, so if your house has many steps, perhaps it is better to host the party in the garden or on the ground floor where everyone has easy access to the venue.
Ask a Parent to Volunteer
It is always handy to have an extra pair of hands during a party, especially if you have many young guests who can easily get into trouble. The parents of a special needs child might be wary of letting their kid go to a party knowing that they could easily experience a meltdown. Why not invite them to help you out? They will probably be more at ease if they keep their kids within reach and watch. It is a win-win situation, but if they refuse, do not be offended.
Accommodate the Kid (s) with Special Needs
If they do accept the invitation, make sure to ask the parents if there are special dietary requirements such as allergies and the like. If you have a young guest who communicates in sign language, you can hire an interpreter for the duration of the party. You can even book a party planner who has experience in preparing parties for special needs kids.
Designate a Quiet Place for Special Needs Guests
Sometimes, parties can become a sensory overload for any child. This is even more evident in children with sensory processing disorders. They might respond in an extreme manner to noises or high-pitched voices or loud sounds. Kids with these disorders are also afraid of being touched or hugged. When symptoms manifest, it can help to have a quiet room where they can relax and be quiet. You can put on quiet music in the background to assist children in unwinding. If the party gets rowdy with children’s play, make sure you have headphones in the room to block out the noise for the child. Keep a box of crayons, paints or colours handy, as well as pencils and blank papers so your guests can indulge in some art, drawing or colouring therapy.
It is also important and encouraged to talk to your own kids and mention that you will have special needs guests attending the party. Explain to them what it is all about and how important it is to respect others who may be a little different than them. Tell other parents as well so that they, in turn, can prepare their own children. What matters is everyone should have a good time and not feel miserable or upset, simply because a party is a celebration.
Where Can You Find More Of Sharon and Lucia