Disclaimer: I received free products in order to host a #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate. The opinions expressed are my own.
One of the challenges of having a child with special needs is finding opportunities for enjoyable an fun play-dates. While my kids are fortunate that they have a large peer group at school, it is often challenging as a parent to see them excluded on the playground, in church and other kids activities. As they get older making sure that their social environment is free of boundaries will be an important challenge. This is why it is important for parents of typical developing children to remember to be all inclusive when planning birthday parties and play-dates.
Here are my 5 recommendations to creating an inclusive #DisneyKids play-date or party:
- Invite Everyone! There used to be a norm in classrooms that everyone get’s invited. Now parents send virtual invitations and skip handing out the envelopes and that gives them also the ability to exclude kids that might seem different, have a disability or might come from a different background. Instead of deliberately picking and choosing, invite everyone. Even virtual invitations are not secret, feelings still get hurt. Want to print your own invitations? Use an HP Card Kit and make something unique and special today.
- Call the Parent! When inviting a non-typical peer, reach out to the parent. Ask them what accommodations you can make for their child.
- Find a Buddy! Do you have an older child, neighbor or babysitter? Maybe the invited child has a sibling. Find someone to partner up with the child, help them with the activities, games and fun. This let’s the child feel more normal and gives mom a worry free break. (make it even better, offer to let her sit back and enjoy planning her next #DisneyKids vacation.)
- Everyone’s a Winner! Make sure there are a few games that everyone can feel successful playing. Each child has different strengths and weaknesses. Needs some ideas? There are lots of great birthday games that can be adjusted to become more non-typical friendly. During our party we had a Hidden Mickey Game, much like an Easter egg hunt, kids were sent out in search of Hidden Mickey’s on the playground. Mickey’s were located at various levels to make sure everyone could see and find them. You can add brail or print on textured papers if a child has a vision loss. You can add bright colors or make them larger for kids with Autism.
- Don’t Be Afraid! Yes, inviting a child with special needs to your child’s party might be weird and even a little bit scary. They might not the perfect party guest and there is a good chance they may lick the frosting or try to open a present. Be patient, be kind, you don’t need to be afraid of these little kids. Trust me, us special needs parents are more worried about our kid ruining your event than anyone else.
Our #DisneyKids Pre-school Party!
We recently hosted our Disney Preschool Playdate with several of our deaf and hearing friends. While the party was geared towards preschoolers, my daughter and her friend hung out to help with the little kids. Since my son is obsessed with birthday parties, we called this “Mickey’s Birthday” and decorated with all the Mickey Mouse Playhouse items that arrived in our #EndlessMagic gift box.
We baked a bunch of cookies and cupcakes, popped some Pop-Smart Popcorn and had a Hidden Mickey seek-and-find game. Liven up your pop-corn with sprinkles, candy glitter and vanilla candy melts for a tasty Pixie Dust Popcorn treat.
One way we accommodated the needs of all the kids is by printing out a whole bunch of the Hidden Mickey images and instead of having the kids look for them and leave them, we taped about 20 of them through our playground and had the kids run around finding them. They were so ecstatic to find each Mickey head. When they had found them all, they had fun just swinging on the swings. Remember 1-2 activities for this age group is ideal. Kids ages 3-5 will transition from one activity to the next about every 5 to 10 minutes.
Find All Our Favorite #DisneyKids products online!
You can create your own #DisneyKid Preschool Party by purchasing items mentioned in this post. Many dollar stores have the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party items. Pick up your Pixie Dust Pop Secret Popcorn at your local grocery store. Make sure little hands are clean from grim by using Soft Soap Hand Wash Plus lotion.
Need Accommodation ideas?
If you ran across this post and are looking for ways to accommodate your next party, leave me a message in the comments and I will be happy to help you brainstorm some ideas. There are lots of ways to make your party inclusive for kids of all abilities.
Until next time. See you real soon!
We are off to Neverland but couldn’t do so without our amazing American Tourister Luggage.