Friendships and Special Needs Children

A close friend of mine became a quadriplegic after high school. This didn’t keep his personality or spirit down, he drove an adapted van, kept a full time job and maintained a more active social life than my own. My children were used to seeing him at the house several time a week. They knew how to maneuver the wheelchair, when to step in and help and when to just wait. As he shared meals with my young children, there was no judgment. Everyone did the best they could.

This indirect training gave them a hand up when it comes to seeing disabled and children with special needs as their peers and not someone to stare at or tease. We’ve easily embraced friends with a variety of special needs, but not without a few hiccups over the years. Encourage friendships without making an issue out of the disability. The focal point should be entirely on the child and their friendship, not whether or not a child can run.

Birthday Parties-Inviting a Child with Special Needs

Inviting a child with special needs to your child’s birthday requires a little planning. But don’t worry, the parent of that special needs child will most likely be happy their child was included. More often than not, these children are overlooked when handing out invitations.

Consult with the parents. Find out what special accommodations they might need. Aside from that, find out if there is something they don’t handle well. For example, my friend’s body no longer regulated temperature and he would quickly become too cold, or too hot. Having an extra blanket available was important in my cold house.

Plan the menu with the child’s special needs in mind. For example, I wouldn’t serve crab legs to my quadriplegic friend who has trouble manipulating utensils. Like anyone, some children are sensitive to red dye, or have allergies that need to be kept in mind.

Birthday Parties- Hosting a Party for Your Special Needs Child

When your child is the one with the disability, their impending birthday can be involve a lot of different emotions. Depending on their social skills and ability to form relationships wondering who will show can be a concern.

Plan the party to fit their schedule and personality. Some children, disabled or not, cannot handle chaos for very long. Consider inviting just a few friends or setting the time frame for only a couple hours.

Plan a party around their normal routine. Especially for children who thrive on rituals, this can make or break a successful party. Remember to plan around medication or other important treatments.

Tips to Making it Work

Talk to your child about what to expect. Let them ask questions about their friends condition and answer honestly and in a matter of fact tone.

If your child does not handle the birthday party well, either as a guest or a host, chalk it up to an experience. No need to berate yourself. Use this as a teachable moment for all involved and move along. Try again another day, knowing what you know now.

Many sensory gym centers use specialized play equipment which can prove useful for disabled children.

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