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Birthday parties & sleepovers

At a Glance: Common Party Pitfalls for Middle-Schoolers With Learning and Attention Issues

By Lexi Walters Wright

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Middle-school parties are milestones that many tweens and teens eagerly await. Kids with learning and attention issues may find these events challenging. But a little preparation can help your child have a good time.

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At a Glance: Common Party Pitfalls for Middle-Schoolers

Parties give middle-schoolers a chance to socialize outside of school and its rules. This can be fun—and tricky to navigate, especially if your child has learning and attention issues. Help prepare for common pitfalls.

Socializing feels awkward.
Why it’s problematic: Your child may feel pressure to attend any parties he’s invited to. But if he doesn’t know many of the guests well and worries that no one will talk to him, he may be reluctant or anxious about going.
What you can do: Talk about what the get-together will be like. Find out who else will be there. Introduce him to a friendly adult at the party— someone he can go to with any immediate needs. Do some role-playing and share ideas for having conversations with other kids.

Lights, music, sensory overload!
Why it’s problematic: The party may be loud, with music and laser tag. Some kids will be running around yelling
and others may be slow dancing and generally being in close proximity. This can be hard on kids who have issues with personal space or who are sensitive to noise.
What you can do: Remind your child that it’s OK to seek out a quiet space to take a breather if he’s feeling overwhelmed.

He won’t have you in his corner—literally.
Why it’s problematic: When you’ve stayed with your child at parties in the past, he could come to you if he needed comfort. But parents usually aren’t expected to hang around parties for kids this age.
What you can do: Consider volunteering to be a parent chaperone. Or you might want to stay near the party location after you drop him off. Let your child know he can call or text you anytime for a word of advice, to share a feeling or to provide a quick exit.
Graphic of At a Glance: Common Party Pitfalls for Middle-Schoolers With Learning and Attention Issues
Graphic of At a Glance: Common Party Pitfalls for Middle-Schoolers With Learning and Attention Issues

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About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright

A veteran writer and editor for parenting magazines and websites, Lexi Walters Wright has a master’s degree in library and information science and is proud to serve families at Understood.org.

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Reviewed by Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D. Apr 28, 2014 Apr 28, 2014

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