No matter what season or time of the year it is, it is not uncommon to organize little reunions, get-togethers, or host a party. For those on the spectrum, like myself, actually organizing a party and getting through it is definitely a big challenge in itself; while parents and friends of those on the spectrum might wonder what is the best way to host a party or to throw a party for someone on the spectrum. I am hoping that this list of tips and tricks will help those on the spectrum throw or host a party, and I hope that these tips will also help those parents and friends who want to throw a party for someone on the spectrum.
1. Organize the Party Yourself or Involve The Individual on the Spectrum in the Planning- It would be good if the individual on the spectrum organizes the party with the help of a friend. If you are a parent or friend of an individual on the spectrum who wants to throw a party for that individual, involve them in the planning. Organizing the party or getting them involved in planning for their own party will also ensure that there will be major surprises, and it is also an opportunity for you to learn what kind of event, activities and food the individual prefers. For individuals on the spectrum, this will go a long way in easing their fears, worries and anxieties about the party itself.
2.Limit to Invitations to Close Friends- Having too many people in one place may get a little bit overstimulating for an individual on the spectrum. Instead, try to invite a select group of people who are close to you or the individual on the spectrum. Having familiar faces is indeed a comfort, as the individual won’t have a hard time talking or socializing with them as well.
3. Host The Event in a Familiar Space or An Appropriate Place That’s More Comfortable- For me, the best venue for a party or get together is always the house. It’s a familiar area, and you can control the environment more. If you choose to set the party or get-together somewhere, do a test run first by allowing the individual to check out the area first before setting a venue in stone. This will also allow you to see if that particular venue has things that might be potential triggers. However, make sure that the venue is appropriate for the activities you will be doing.
4.Avoid Big Triggers- Know what triggers you and make sure that you can keep them to a minimum wherever you are having the event. For those throwing the party, make sure you know what triggers the individual on the spectrum so that you can try to avoid them. For example, I don’t like super loud music, strobe lights, and balloons, so none of my events have those things around.
5.Have Activities & Games That You Know Everyone Will Enjoy- When you plan your party or event, make sure to have activities that the individual on the spectrum is comfortable with, and is also something that the other guests will enjoy. I remember attending some parties in which I really didn’t want to participate in some games I wasn’t comfortable with, and it wasn’t a good feeling at all. Make sure that everyone can enjoy.
6.Set A Time Limit for the Party- Individuals on the spectrum get exhausted pretty easily, so it is good to set a time limit for the party. For those who are adults like myself, honestly, I think that midnight is a good time for the party to end or wind down. Know how long the individual can take being surrounded by overwhelming sounds, noise, and socialization. After all, you don’t want that individual to be a grumpy cat for the remainder of the event.
7.Avoid Having Big Surprises- Big, unexpected surprises are definitely a no-go for individuals on the spectrum. This is mostly because they won’t really know how to respond to it, and might end up reacting negatively or in an unexpected manner that might put off some of the guests. As mentioned in my previous article, I also reacted negatively to a birthday surprise once, as I didn’t know what to do or say next. So, it is definitely better to avoid it altogether.
8.Manage Expectations-This goes for both individuals on the spectrum and for parents or friends throwing the party. It’s okay if it doesn’t go 100% as planned, or if it is not the dream party or get together you planned. What is important is that everyone enjoyed and had a good time with each other.
9.Allow For Some Breathing Space or Alone Time if Needed- Sometimes, individuals on the spectrum might need to take a little breather for a few minutes alone to “recharge” before heading back into a party. Allow for this to happen, and don’t be embarrassed to step out for a few minutes for some fresh air if you really need to. These little breaks allow individuals on the spectrum to somehow collect themselves, and it will give them a chance to not be too overwhelmed by everything that is happening.
10. Mental & Physical Rest-For everyone, mental and physical rest is needed, before and after the event. This will ensure that you won’t get too tired out or stressed during the event itself, and it will also allow you to face any challenge or difficulty that occurs during the event while keeping your cool.