It’s party season and the time to reflect on the past year. Although my posts about parties have mostly been negative Quinns has actually made it to a fair few this year and had a great time with all his friends. Until Quinns came along we had no real concept of an inclusive birthday party so it’s been a steep learning curve for us so I thought it might be helpful to share some of our best party experiences.
The best parties for me are the ones where I do very little. We’re not quite at the stage of drop and go but enjoying a cuppa with mum friends while the kids play is definitely more fun than having to run around with energetic children. The problem is that Quinns needs someone to push him to where all the action is happening.
My solution has been to hand him over to Big Sister or when she’s off gallivanting at Brownie camp someone else’s older sibling. We really appreciated the offer of help from the children’s entertainer at one party. Usually we would accept such an offer. That time though we had an opportunity to bring an older sibling into the fun who otherwise would have sat bored on the side. It also meant the entertainer was free to run the party for everyone.
Any game where Quinns stays in the Bug is ideal for me. Our favourite has got to be musical islands. Squares of carpet or foam are put on the floor and when the music stops the children run or roll onto one and just like musical chairs each time a child is eliminated and an island is removed. Quinns is in with the same chance as everyone else to win (unlike musical chairs which he would always win as he comes with his own chair!)
Pass the parcel with a running element, parcels in easy to open bags, ball games and dressing up games were also a lot of fun and really accessible to Quinns. Of course, kids will generally find entertainment in the simplest of things. One party stands out for its unexpected child-led entertainment. It’s no mean feat pushing Quinns in a very heavy Bug up a steep grassy slope but great fun running back down chasing his friends!
Quinns’ dairy allergy makes even the birthday buffet tricky for inclusion. A few trays of surprisingly dairy free foods (ones that you’d expect at a kids party) strategically placed next to Quinns at the party table but available to everyone is perfect for us. (Note: Quinns has nearly fully climbed the milk ladder so this is less of an issue for us now although still a very important point for any other allergy children.)
The clean up operation is a difficult one. With so few Changing Place toilets around we don’t expect a party to offer this facility although this did happen for the very first time recently! Of course, for the short duration of a party Changing Places are not always necessary (or rather we have managed so far). We did appreciate the use of a bed in a hotel room at one party. It’s not necessarily an ideal set up (I assume a hoist could have been made available on request) but it did come in very handy and the bed at least made for a comfortable Quinns.
There have been many good times this year and hopefully there are many more to come. We won’t always get it right but the most important thing is to try to include him. It’s alright not to know how best to do that and it’s also OK to ask. Together we’ll come up with solutions.
This article has some really useful advice on hosting an inclusive party – https://www.ageukmobility.co.uk/mobility-news/article/disability-wheelchair-inclusive-party-games-activities.