Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autism and the Birthday Party

Autism and the Birthday Party: A Litmus Test | Special Education & IEP Advisor

I have lost track of the number of times I’ve seen a mother of a child with autism break into tears when discussing the subject of birthday parties. Either her child is not being invited to birthday parties or the mother throws a birthday party and very few children attend.

Here’s a strategy that will most certainly benefit a child with autism: from pre-school until elementary school graduation, invite the entire class to exciting parties for every occasion and turn the home of the child with autism into “the fun” party place. Make sure that the activities are reinforcing and highly structured, the junk food is plentiful and the party is short (two hours maximum). Use any excuse to organize a party (whether Summer, Halloween, birthday, or other holiday). Make sure that at least some of the parties are in the child’s home in order to give parents a chance to see a typical family with a child who may be somewhat different. The more the family of the child with autism normalizes the environment, the more sanguine the parents of typically developing children will be; consequently, the greater the likelihood that those parents will allow their children to attend play dates with the child challenged by autism.

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