Planning An Autism Friendly Wedding
Our son, Henry, is 4 years old & we are currently going through the process of an autism diagnosis. It’s a long & stressful journey but we are committed to getting Henry all the help & support he needs.
We have been to a couple of parties (that we have actually planned) with Henry & he can get massively overwhelmed very quickly. We have since learnt from our mistake. So, going forward we know a few things we can implement to help make it easier for him to attend. If you are autistic or a relative is, then you will want to make it as easy for them as possible. You will of course want them there with you to celebrate.
If it’s an immediate family member then you will most likely know their triggers better than anyone else. If it’s a relative or a child of a close relative or friend you can ask them what their triggers are. This is a good way so you can help avoid them. Trust me, you may feel awkward asking, but they will be very grateful. There’s a good chance they may be a bit emotional that you are thinking of them in such a way as they are sure to be anxious.
Hopefully these tips & ideas will help! If you have any others that you think are worth adding please leave a comment or message me!
Consider Having A Silent Disco
Silent discos are basically just that. Silent. Guests wear headphones & listen to the music rather than have it blaring out at usually very high volumes. There is also the option to have a completely silent disco with no music at all.
Have A Dedicated Quiet Area
Sometimes, a lot of people or lots of noise can be a trigger for upset. Having a dedicated area in the wedding venue will help any adult or child with autism. They can go and relax, even sleep comfortably in an area that is quiet & comfy. They need somewhere to retreat to when things just get too much for them to handle. A quiet area will give them just that.
Create A Sensory Area
In the quiet area, you could also add some sensory lights or games that could help relax someone that has autism. You could also find out what they love the most & add it to the quiet area. If it’s your child then make sure you remember to pack a bag of everything they love the most.
Check Wifi Is Available
Wifi is a god send for parents of autistic children. It can mean the difference between them being happy & them being very distressed. It’s always worth checking if it’s available.
Visit The Venue More Than Once
New places and unfamiliar surroundings can be a huge trigger for some people & children on the spectrum. Take them to the wedding venue if location allows to introduce them to it ahead of the wedding.
You may also have the option to have the wedding / wedding reception at a place that’s already familiar. If space allows, you could have the reception at home. This may cause difficulty in the fact that they may not understand or like that people they don’t know are in their home, it does give them the opportunity to retreat to a familiar safe space.
If strangers are likely to cause a meltdown & anxiety issues, try to let people know ahead of time what the situation is. It can be hard on parents of autistic children when others don’t really understand what’s happening especially when a meltdown is occurring. Let people know that they aren’t being rude by sitting in the corner by themselves, they aren’t being anti social by sitting on their tablets – it’s just what they do that keeps them happy.
Don’t Have Social Expectations
Weddings are social events – social events for people & children with autism can be absolutely awful. They may not want to interact with other people & that’s absolutely ok! It can make it so much easier for them if they don’t have to stick to social etiquette of kissing relatives & chatting to people. Just let them retreat if they need to & make sure to make it as comfortable as possible.
Scale It Down
If it’s your child that has autism or an immediate family member you will know that it isn’t about making them fit into our schedules, we fit into theirs. Why not make it a small, intimate wedding instead of a massive affair & make it trusted people only. Your wedding will be special & amazing no matter where you have it & what size it is. Weddings definitely don’t have to be huge to be beautiful.
We are currently making a list of all of Henry’s triggers that he can take into school with him so that they know what to avoid – hand dryers, sudden bursts of noise, noisy books – things along those lines. If you know there’s a particular trigger – people dressed up, balloons, loud noises etc, make sure you avoid them.
Check For Dietary Requirements
Sometimes Henry will only eat the same thing over & over again until he suddenly decides to eat something else. This isn’t a case of being a fussy eater – it could be a sensory issue or their focus on one particular thing is so strong that unless they are ready they won’t let go of it. Autistic children can also have dietary issues that might need a specific type of food type. If the venue can’t provide them with what they need – ask if they would prepare something for them specifically or take food yourself for them.
Autism just gives us another outlook on life. It may not be what we were first expecting, but now we work together & we are constantly learning. Will we always get it right? Maybe not, but that’s ok. Autism is a constant learning curve & we now know love on a completely different level than we could have ever imagined.
If you want to chat about anything to do with weddings or even just about autism – please get in touch. With support we are all stronger.