Planning a party for any kid is a lot of work. Each year, I work very hard to come up with a wonderful birthday party for my daughter. Hopefully, my accessible party ideas will help get you started.
Arts & Crafts Party
Everyone can have a lot of fun at an arts & crafts party. You may have to recruit some help for kids with limited mobility.
Our daughter loves arts & crafts. A lot of the time, she is just saying “yes” to the details and/or placement of things, but she loves to be part of creating something.
We did a princess craft party for her once. She and her friends made princess tiaras. We had lots of other activities planned, but they were having so much fun the entire party was spent at the craft table. (Boys could create something like pirate hats, treasure chests, or maps.)
Google the topic your child is interested in and add ”arts and crafts,” and you are sure to find a bunch of ideas. And as an added bonus, the crafts the kids make can be take-home party favors.
If your child is into movies, you can find a theater that will let you have the entire theater for a showing. They will usually work with you to make the theatre quieter, brighter, etc., as well. In order for the theater to be flexible and keep the cost reasonable, we had to be flexible on the day and time.
Many music therapy centers offer parties. The fee is usually reasonable—and if your child is into music, this can be a great party idea. The therapist will get everyone involved. There is dancing (or movement), singing, or just making noises.
Get the song list ahead of time. For a few dollars you can get blank CDs and burn the song list for all the kids coming to the party.
If you don’t have a music therapy center nearby, you may be able to get an individual music therapist to come. Tell the kids coming to bring their favorite instruments or noise makers with them.
Many book stores and libraries offer story time. Some have party rooms as well. You can rent the party room and invite the kids in for story time. We did this recently and the kids had a blast.
In addition to story time, they were also able to make bookmarks. At craft stores, you can find lots of affordable ways to create your own books as party favors, too.
Parks & Playgrounds
Search for accessible playgrounds in your area. These are great places to plan parties. Make sure there is a sheltered space in case a child needs a break. Make arrangements with the city officials, if necessary. They can reserve the area for you so you don’t have to worry about asking other people to move to other tables. You can hire face painters, jugglers, magicians, or whatever your child would like to see, and have them meet you in the park.
Invite friends and/or family and just focus on doing the things that make your child happy. Even if that means watching a movie or just relaxing and being around loved ones.
A party does not have to be action-packed. Some kids prefer and thrive on quiet, controlled environments. If that is your child, don’t force them into a party because that’s what you think you have to do. Make sure their birthday is special, and something they will enjoy.
Unfortunately, some of our kids spend birthdays sick and/or in the hospital. Hospitals are usually great about helping decorate the rooms (nurses are often very creative).
If your child is in the hospital, or too sick to be around others, pick a theme (wearing silly hats, making funny faces) and have all of your family and friends take a picture and email it to you. On the special day, show the pictures to your child and let them see how much everyone misses them and wishes them a special birthday.
You could also put them all together with the birthday song and make a little slide show for your child to enjoy. If your child is more responsive to sound, have everyone send a voice message. My daughter loves when her friends make her pictures to hang in the hospital room, too.
Personal touches like this make any day brighter, especially birthdays.
Regardless of how you celebrate your child’s special day, be sure to do something special just for them. They deserve a day all about them, and what makes them happy. Get creative!
Living with a child who has mental health issues can come with a lot of unknowns just like having a child with physical health issues. But society can treat both children very differently.