Tips for Holding an Inclusive Birthday Party

The world has transformed from a place where we hid away children with physical limitations or intellectual and developmental disabilities in institutions. Inclusivity has brought these children out of the shadows and into the mainstream of life, from school to play to worship.

This means that your kids have friends and classmates with different abilities. When a celebration is coming, learn these tips for holding an inclusive birthday party.

Talk to Parents

Your best source for tips on holding an inclusive birthday party is the parents of the kids your child will invite. Don’t be shy about asking what type of accommodations would make the child most comfortable.

Ask about dietary restrictions, sensory triggers (loud sounds, crowded spaces, etc.), and things that make their child anxious or upset. With their help, you can craft a fun birthday party that will include kids with differences and ensure that those kids have a good time.

Think About Accessibility

If your home isn’t wheelchair accessible, consider booking a birthday party space that takes care of accessibility issues for you. This includes entries, bathrooms, and walkways that allow wheelchair access to tables, games, and play spaces.

Consider Sensory Challenges

Along with accessibility, think about sensory issues, like discomfort with tight spaces, noise, bright lights, or certain textures in food. Kids with sensory issues may not want to put on party hats, may be unable to tolerate noisemakers, and might even be afraid of birthday candles. While it isn’t necessary to abandon all the usual aspects of a child’s birthday, being prepared for kids who may become anxious or uncomfortable is a part of being a good host.

Make a Break Room Available

Kids with sensory processing issues or autism need a place to retreat and regroup. It’s important to designate a space with sensory activities, like soothing music, soft lighting, fidget toys, or othersensory activities, for kids to calm themselves.

Rely on Simple Games and Single Activities

Kids with ADHD or autism may not be able to sustain participation in complex games or process the rules of games quickly. Keep things simple, like a game of tossing a ball, or provide activities that kids can do on their own, like working on puzzles or coloring. Kids will be relieved that they don’t have to expose themselves to confusion and even ridicule if they don’t understand the game.

Inclusive birthday parties will be smaller, quieter, and more relaxed, but that can be more enjoyable for everyone. Instead of having 25 kids amped up on sugar and riotous games, you can host six or eight for a quieter, but every bit as fun, celebration.

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