Birthday parties are the annual celebration that kids dream about all year long. Who will be there? What will my cake look like? What presents will I get?
For kids on the autism spectrum or with sensory issues, adjusting their birthday parties to fit their needs is fairly simple. You do what works best for your kid.
It’s the elation and fear that come along with a birthday invitation to another child’s party that muddy the waters.
Many times, children on the spectrum don’t receive a lot of invitations. So when they do, parents don’t want their little ones to miss out. An invitation received is a celebration in itself! However, the reality of the party can be a little more challenging.
One mom told us:
“My son used to scream and was inconsolable every single time someone sang ‘Happy Birthday.’ It was easy to skip that at his own birthday party, but I would always start sweating when that time approached at a friend’s party. Sometimes we took a bathroom break to avoid the whole thing. Sometimes I let him react and then we’d leave the room to calm him down.
I never thought he’d actually enjoy singing ‘Happy Birthday’ until we started ABA therapy. He was in a social group that celebrated birthdays often. His ABA therapist helped him through this struggle a little at a time. After four months, it was time for his birthday celebration with his social group, and I was there. When everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ – and some even screamed it – my son didn’t cry or scream or get upset. He just sat there with a precious little smile on his face. Guess who was crying? His mom!”
Four months might seem a long time to achieve that small victory. But it was a miracle to that mom, and it made birthday parties fun again for everyone.