For many children, the best part of a birthday party is running around playing with lots of friends and family, eating birthday cake, popping balloons, tearing apart wrapping paper, and wearing party hats! However, for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), all of these events may be extremely overwhelming and hard to take in. Below are some tips to try and make the party scene more enjoyable for everyone:
5 Tips To Prepare Your Child’s Sensory System For A Party
1. Practice practice practice: Practice birthday party activities that may be over-stimulating for your child when at home, in a safe environment. This will best prepare them for what songs and games may be part of the actual birthday party (e.g. practice blowing up/playing with balloons; practice singing “happy birthday” with the family; practice playing with party favors/horns/noise makers).
2. Talk: Talk with your child about where the party will be held (e.g. home; restaurant; community venue) and what she will be doing. When a child is well prepared about anything that will or might happen, she will feel more in control and aware of what is going to happen, and hopefully more excited to participate with their peers
3. Take a Break: Talk with your child about ways to “take a break” if he begins to feel overwhelmed (e.g. go get a drink of water, step outside with an adult for a breath of fresh air, chew a piece of gum, use the restroom, do frog jumps in an open hallway).
4. Comfort item: Help your child to choose a comfort item to bring along; if it’s small enough, he can even keep it right in his pocket (e.g. small stuffed animal/blanket; a small toy, such as a car; a squeeze toy, such as a stress ball or a balloon filled with beans/rice/sand).
5. Get involved: Allow your child to help you choose the birthday gift and/or help to wrap the gift, so that he or she feels involved and excited about the birthday process, and can help to choose a gift they feel the birthday girl/boy would like!