Weddings are joyous occasions but for children with autism they can be big, noisy, scary, unpredictable events! However, with a little thought and forward planning it is possible to have an autism friendly wedding that will ensure all your little guests have a great time! This blog post features tips on how to make your wedding autism friendly for children and young people.
Autism friendly tip 1: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Children with autism often thrive on familiarity and routine. A wedding generally throws all of those things out of the window! Ideally, organise a visit to the place where you will be getting married and where you will be having your reception so they can become familiar with these places. If they will be in the wedding party, let them run through their ‘part’ as many times as they need to feel comfortable. Give parents a copy of the order things will be happening in on the day so they are able to plan. Have the clothes they will be wearing (including shoes) organised well in advance and give them a chance to try them on before the big day. Speaking of clothes, see the next point…
Autism friendly tip 2: Dress appropriately
Some children with autism also have sensory processing issues, and this can mean they prefer wearing certain types of clothing. Clothing which is soft, with no thick seams or labels, can help children with sensory issues to feel more comfortable. If the child is in the wedding party then consider avoiding clothing with fiddly buttons and tight collars. The same goes for shoes. Think light and comfortable! A lot of shops are now starting to sell ‘autism friendly’ clothes and shoes. Check out Marks and Spencer and Clarks for some examples.
Autism friendly tip 3: Consider the food
If you are having a traditional, sit-down meal it is likely that you will have a food tasting at some point. However you probably would not have a tasting of the children’s option (understandably!). It would be a good idea though to ask to see how the children’s meal option comes and, if possible, take a photograph of it to show to parents. The way food is served can be very important to children with autism. It may be that your guest will be very upset if their baked beans touch their fish fingers or they may like their jacket potato cut in a particular way. A reasonable chef will be happy to make these small adjustments and will help ensure that everyone enjoys a happy meal time.
Autism friendly tip 4: Plan a quiet space
Children with autism can easily become overwhelmed in busy, noisy situations. Consider setting up a quiet space that they can escape to if they do start to find everything too much to cope with. A separate room near the main proceedings would be ideal. Set up some quiet, relaxing activities such as colouring or jigsaws along with some beanbags and cushions. Try to keep the lighting soft and the noise low if possible. Make sure other guests are aware that this is a special room for your guest and their family.
Autism friendly tip 5: Reduce surprises!
Sudden, unexpected events can be unsettling for children with autism. If you have a surprise for your guests lined up, for example if the sky is about to be filled with fireworks, then let the parents know discretely beforehand so they can decide the best way to handle the situation.
Autism friendly tip 6: Finally, plan the photos…
Children with autism may not last the whole day, so ask your photographer to make sure they get some photographs of your special guests early on in the day!
I hope you found these tips for having an autism friendly wedding helpful! Remember to share this post to help other people and if you have any other tips for planning an autism friendly wedding then do share them in the comments below!