Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A birthday party with autistic siblings, and @giraffebounce giveaway


It's not unusual for autistic kids to miss out on the whole birthday party scene.  Even the loudest and little five year old can feel overwhelmed with the new chaos and general attack on the senses that is a kids birthday party.   But that doesn't mean they should miss out, especially when it's their siblings birthday.

My eldest hasn't accepted a birthday party invitation for years.  My middle son has never received one.  Well not from anyone outside the family.  Because despite Anthony's understanding that he doesn't like the spectacle of most traditional birthday parties and the fact that David's social circle is very small and probably full of people (like Anthony) who don't like parties, they both go to one party every year.  Their younger sister's.

This means we design a party around what Jane wants and what her autistic brothers' needs. Entertainer's and organised activities are fab but do not work for our family.  Neither Anthony nor David can follow stories, cope with the instructions or the pace and noise. Thinking about what our boys need help us create a successful party for our little girl.  After all, she loves her brothers and wants them there. Last year we chose had a great party, this is what we did and why it worked.



Bouncy Castle - with slide

The main focus of the party was a bouncy castle that we got through a company called Giraffe Inflatables.  Inflatables are a fantastic free play activity - and that's what works well for our kids. Once they understand what's going on, it's an easy and fun game for them to join in with everyone else.  It stimulates their sensory system which for some kids can help them stay focused.  It's also easy for adults to get involved and help any kids that need extra support.

We chose the bouncy castle that was open at the front with a slide down the side.  This provided the kids playing on the castle with a natural game and routine.   On to the castle, jump about, up the steps and down the slide.  This repetitive play was great for all the kids as it was easy to join in, gave them all a few minutes off the castle and easy to follow.

Free play and activities are best and of course we can theme them for Jane.  We had the princess castle - quite the right thing for Jane.

If you've never organised for an inflatable before, they are really easy to get.  We found Giraffe Inflatables through google and simply looked through their different castles and slides until we found a few we'd like and made sure they would fit in the venue we chose.  Then we checked on their availability online and booked.

On the day the team get in touch to check exact times etc, turn up and do all the work.   They can advise on where to put the inflatable, but I already had a good idea based on what else was happening.  It doesn't take very long for the team to unpack it and they show you how to switch it on and off.   The air blowing can be a little noisy if you aren't used to it.  We let it deflate a bit while the kids had party food for example.  For any kids sensitive to the noise they could wear ear defenders to join in too.

Free craft and sensory play

We also set up a free play craft and sensory table for the kids to play with.  Again by having free play the boys were not required to follow a particular programme and could choose what they wanted to do or if they wanted to join in.

Our crafts focused on Jane's themes, so we had simple decorating items.  We had pre-cut crowns, wands and paper bags for kids colour and create with.  We included pens, pencils, glue sticks, confetti, coloured feathers, tissue paper, stickers and shining materials that the kids could use as they wished.  Some kids did everything, some did none.  But they could choose and not feel pressured into having to do any activity in particular.

Soft Play


We also had a soft play chill out area with mats, cushions, shapes and we brought our Doodle Dome for kids to hide in and inflatable toys too.   This can be particularly helpful for calming down or relaxing away from some of the activity around the bouncy castle.

The company also have a discount if you ordered a bouncy castle and their soft play which had a ball pit too.


Birthday tea

For nearly all the above I've been highlighting free choice to help the boys join in.  That's for everything except the birthday teas.   Food, can be tricky for kids like our boys who are autistic.  If I put out a giant plate of cut up apple in the middle of the table, there is every possibility that David would park himself in front of it and not share a single piece.  He may even lash out if anyone tried to take one.

We use party boxes - giving the kids an identical pack of items and whether they choose to eat them or not is fine.  This replicates an almost happy meal type of eating that the kids are familiar with.  David has his box - and he is fine with that.

We also use bottles of water with spout tops for drinks - not only does this help with all hot kids that have come off of the bouncy castle, but it helps prevent spills which David doesn't like and helps any kids that have motor skills issues drink by themselves.

When the cake comes we try not to make too big a fuss and let the boys know before it is coming so they can move away or leave the room if they need to.  A cake and singing happy birthday is quite a spectacle and can feel a bit overwhelming.

Venue

Which brings me onto the last point.  If you'd love to have an inflatable check your venue it suitable. There is a footprint guide so you can work out which bouncy castle will fit in the space.  Don't forget about height and space around the back.  We blocked this off with tables and boards so kids didn't go around the back too at the party.

We also chose a venue that had other quieter areas that the boys or other kids could go to if they felt overwhelmed.  This could be a kitchen or space off to the side.  But just somewhere that is was safe to take them.  We are fortunate to have family close by who can come along and help if we need to stay with the boys, even if it's just to hide while the cake is coming out.

If you have an outdoor space that would work, then lucky you!  We had so much fun with the bouncy castle that I think we might hire one for some fun days now that the weather is beautiful.  We will need to get one of the smaller ones though for our place.  Keeping a party at home is a great option too, as it's an environment the boys are very comfortable with and can always go to their rooms.

Jane could not have been more pleased with her party last year.  Whereas she will talk about the castle and the crown and bag she made, it's undoubtedly a bit to do with planning and understanding our family.  She is growing up to be a beautiful five year old person who sees the integration of her family as completely normal.  How will we top it this year?


Win an inflatable instrument set 

To get you in the party spirit, we are running a giveaway for a fun inflatable instrument set with air guitar, microphone and saxophone
Simply enter via Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.




Conditions: UK Residents only. Entrants must be aged over 18. Entry is via Rafflecopter. Entries can be made up until midnight on Friday 11th May 2018. One winner will be chosen from all valid entries at random the day after closing. The winner will be contacted within a week of the closing date and have one week to respond. The Prize is one neon inflatable guitar (approx 95cm), saxophone (approx 75cm) and microphone (approx 40cm) as show above.  A alternative similar product may be sent if exact above stock is unavailable. No cash alternative.

Giraffe Inflatables asked us if we would be happy to review their inflatables.  Having already used them and loved them we were delighted to include them and run a giveaway above. 


41 comments:

  1. Very information. Thanks for sharing it. #TriumphantTales

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  2. How wonderful that you have figured out what works for your kids and you keep them all safe and happy! This party sounds like a blast!
    #TriumphantTales

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  3. My kids would love this.

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  4. Great ideas for parties - we do have to work that bit harder with planning, don't we?! x

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  5. My Grandson would love this guitar, he loves rocking out

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  6. very informative, l learned a lot

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  7. Inflatables always seem a great hit with kids. :)

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  8. I love the bouncy castles with slides on the website...

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  9. It is so wonderful that your daughter wants to make sure to plan her parties to make her brothers comfortable as well. Not every sibling is as generous! #DreamTeam

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  10. Some really good practical ideas here. A kids' party can be overwhelming for an adult so it is so tough for an autistic child. I like the idea of having a quieter area - that's normally where you can find me at parties too! #KCACOLS

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  11. Entered the giveaway! #KCACOLS

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  12. id love to win this for my nephew

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  13. Sounds like a great party that everyone would enjoy. Great tips, thanks for sharing with #WotW

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  14. Great little giveaway and lovely review. Thank you for sharing this with #TriumphantTales, I hope you can join me again on Tuesday :)

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  15. Some really practical ideas here for thoughtful party planning. The temptation is to throw everything but the kitchen sink at parties once a year, but that can be overwhelming. #KCACOLS

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  16. My son has autism and this would be great to give him sensory satisfaction and decrease his frustration at not being perfect

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  17. Some great tips here and points to consider.I love the inflatable set you're giving away which would make a fab addition to an autism friendly party. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub 100th x

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  18. It's lovely that they get to have fun together. That's what it's all about. #kcacols

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  19. Very informative post and links for helping with party issues , have a birthday party coming up great help!

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  20. Wonderful post and fun giveaway.

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  21. Fab post, really useful and the prize looks great fun

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  22. Some really helpful advice

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  23. A very useful and constructive post. Thank you for sharing.

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  24. Sounds like a brilliant kids party. I've entered the competition too. I totally agree kids parties are a complete attack on the senses. Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS hope to see you again next time.

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  25. Great giveaway this would be a great gift for youngest grandson, Eldest grandson has Aspergers he hardly ever got asked to parties

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  26. fantastic prize, I loved reading your blog very interesting

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  27. I like the Super Slide. Keep up the good work.

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  28. Wow, that's a fab party you put on for Jane! Sounds lovely x #KCACOLS

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  29. There are some amazing ideas in the blog. So good that more things are becoming available and more people understand this condition

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  30. This is great, and a fab read xx

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  31. Enjoyed working through this, thank you

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  32. Oh my nephew would love them!

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  33. Fun prize and competition. Thanks for running it. Good luck everyone!

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  34. My daughter would absolutely love this!

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