Special needs

How did Talia's first sleepover party go?

Talia had a friend sleep over for the first time since her preschool days, but was it a success?

By Amy Baskin
How did Talia's first sleepover party go?

On the weekend, Talia had a friend sleep over for the first time. With a guest, Talia does best when we plan an outing, rather than having too much unstructured time in the house. When her friend arrived (with cupcakes in hand!) they decided to watch a High School Musical video downstairs. A great way to escape from nosy parents!

For dinner, Jack whipped up homemade veggie pizza. Then, I took the girls to see a stunning Ballet Jorgen dance performance at our local theatre. Luckily, high school students can see a show at the theatre for only $5 at ticket. So it’s a great way for students to gain a love of the arts. As always, we booked seats very close to the front. All the better for helping us focus and pay attention to the stage. During the show, Tal often glanced my way and gave me two thumbs up. At intermission, both girls bought ice cream (really the highlight of any kid’s theatre experience.) 

Back at home, at 10:30, Tal’s guest showered independently, dried her own hair, brushed her teeth and quietly headed to bed in the guest room. Tal took her own shower and also hopped into bed. Wow — that was easy! A far cry from the stay-up-all-night kinds of sleepovers I remember.

Amazingly, Tal’s buddy slept in until 10:30 the next day. After I whipped up blueberry waffles from scratch (weekend treat), our guest headed home. A success. So now we’re planning another sleepover — this time at the friend’s house.

Funny — when my girls were preschoolers, we did babysitting exchanges with close friends on occasional weekends. That way, Jack and I got a break. And our kids enjoyed special time with their friends. But we haven’t done a child-care swap like that in years.

When your kids have special needs, it can be complicated to arrange a sleepover. Especially if your child (or their friend) has challenging behaviours, medical concerns, or poor self-help skills, you wonder how they’ll do at a friend's house. Or you may wonder if you’re up for the job of caring for someone else’s child with special needs.

But trying sleepovers can be well worth the effort. Not only can it be fun for our kids, but it also widens our circle of support. Our kids enjoy a sleepover with a friend. We get an overnight break from parenting. Win-Win. Plus, should there ever be an emergency, you have another family who knows your child well.

Do your kids ever invite another child with special needs for a sleepover? How do you make it work?

Photo by Kapaiva via Flickr

This article was originally published on Jan 27, 2012

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