5 Tips for Hosting an Inclusive Gathering
Sponsored by Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities
Help Friends with Disabilities Be a Part of the Fun
Everyone loves a good party – the food, the fun, the friends. Unfortunately, more often than not, people with disabilities are left out of the mix. People with disabilities like to get out and meet new people too, so why not consider holding a gathering where all guests – with and without disabilities – feel welcomed and have fun. All it takes is some pre-planning to ensure your gatherings are inclusive, fun and welcoming to all.
Don’t be afraid to include guests with disabilities – People with disabilities love parties and want to participate in all the festivities. If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy – ask the person what they need to be fully included. If it’s an event that includes children, parents can tell you, right off the bat, what their child’s needs might be to attend the event.
Special diets – Anyone can have allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance, but you won’t know unless you ask in advance or even on the invitation or RSVP. Making sure there are alternative options for cake, snacks, treats and other food for guests with special diets can be as simple as picking up a gluten free cupcake to serve with the cake. If you have someone coming who uses a wheelchair, consider putting food on tables that are low enough for them to serve themselves.
Sensory overload awareness – Large gatherings may cause sensory overload for some children or adults. For a person with autism or a sensory processing disorder, a large gathering may be really overwhelming. Offer opportunities for guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd. Consider turning down the music or minimizing stimulation – which is also useful anywhere there is a lot of kids.
Cognitive and vision considerations – If you are planning activities, remember children and adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read instructions for a scavenger hunt or a game score sheet. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful, as well as pairing participants with those who can help.
Opportunities for learning about each other – Children (and adults, too) can be cautious when encountering someone who is different from them. If children are attending your event, you can talk to them at the start of the event about kindness and respect for each other and each other’s differences. A party is a great opportunity for everyone to learn about one another, what you have in common, and make new friends regardless of ability.
Finally, remember to enjoy your gathering. Don’t let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, you are already doing more than most. Stay positive, smile and have a great time.
For more information about individuals with disabilities and services available, call the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities at 330-725-7751 or visit mcbdd.org.
Opinions and claims expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ScripType Publishing.