It helps to plan a party for a child with special needs by being sensitive to his/her unique needs. Here are a list of ideas to prevent your child from meltdowns, tantrums, or shutdowns:
-use a social story, visual schedule, or sequence to create a picture book to reduce the party’s element of surprise
-check to see if local venues have sensory friendly days. Chuck E. Cheese, Hartford Stage, and The Bushnell do have sensory friendly days where noise levels are reduced and bright lighting is avoided.
-try to avoid holding the party at a new venue such as a bowling alley or bounce house and have the party at a familiar place like home or place your child has visited before the party
-same holds true for activities. Go for activities your child has tried and enjoyed, like building rocket ships out of paper towel rolls and painting.
-sensory bin tubs serve hours of fun
-have an assistant or babysitter your child knows and likes help at the party
-lighting candles or singing songs may be too much for some kids so you may choose to skip these parts
-consider donating cans to a homeless shelter vs receiving gifts. If you opt to receive gifts, perhaps tell your child what gifts to expect ahead of time. Opening gifts in front of guests in a timely manner may create pressure.
-include gluten-free and casein free food and drinks since there is a high rate of gluten and dairy intolerance in autistic kids
Here is a link of gluten-free and casein free foods and their manufacturers
-pass out autism awareness shirts, bracelets, stickers, bags for party favors
-the question arises if you should invite other special needs kids only or have a mix of kids. Again, go with what you think is best for your kid.
-each child has different sensory issues so please keep this in mind when deciding who to invite, number of guests, venue, activities
Here is an article link that cites multiple autism charities to support: