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The Hood Magazine

Birthday Parties for Kids with ADHD

Mar 28, 2017 ● By Hood Magazine
By Megan Johnke, Director of Therapy-LifeScape

Children with ADHD demonstrate difficulties with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. While it can be normal for all children to struggle with these symptoms, kids with ADHD demonstrate these patterns more intensely and frequently. These behaviors can also interfere with the quality of social interactions. With good planning and consideration for the natural strengths of your child, a successful and fun birthday party is well within reach.

  • Keep the party short and have well-planned activities. Review the activities with your child ahead of time so that he knows what to expect. If you are playing games or motor activities, practice with your child so he is well prepared. This will help avoid emotional meltdowns when he isn’t as successful at the activity as his friends.
  • Limit the number of children attending the party and consider the size of the space that you have. Being the center of attention can be difficult for a child or cause them to become overly excitable. Fewer children means less noise and activity, and less sensory overload--for parents, too!
  • Consider parties where space and movement is a natural part of the party--trampoline parks, gymnastics, inflatables, swimming, etc. This allows your child to get the movement that he naturally seeks without standing out from his perhaps calmer friends. Consider ruling out places that may be overstimulating, such as an arcade. In the end, choose a location that fits your child.
  • Consider the time of day for the party. If your child takes medication for ADHD, try to plan the party to conclude before the medication starts wearing off. Two hours total for the party is a good time limit. A child with ADHD may lose interest or focus if the party runs too long.
  • While sugar does not cause ADHD, a high intake of sugar can aggravate hyperactive behavior (or cause children without ADHD to act hyper). Serve protein-rich foods and limit the serving size of sugary foods. If your child is normally gluten-free, casein-free, dye-free, etc., stick to it at the party to avoid potential problems. Cupcakes are a great way to accommodate a specific diet while still having a batch of ‘regular’ cupcakes. Make sure the frosting looks the same and mark them well so no one gets the wrong kind.

Above all else, remember to relax and have fun!