Helping Your Child Socialize During a Memorial Day BBQ

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Tips for Parents of Children with Autism: Helping Your Child Socialize During a Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day is a time for families and friends to come together, enjoy good food, and celebrate. For parents of children with autism, social events like BBQs can be challenging, as they require navigating unfamiliar environments and interactions. However, with some thoughtful preparation and supportive strategies, you can help your child with autism feel more comfortable and engaged during the festivities. In this blog, we will discuss valuable tips for parents to create a positive experience for their child with autism during a Memorial Day BBQ.

  1. Prepare in advance:

  • Introduce the concept: Explain to your child what a BBQ is and what they can expect during the event. Use visual aids, social stories, or videos to help them understand the event and its social dynamics.
  • Discuss the schedule: Talk about the timeline of the BBQ, including arrival, activities, and departure. Knowing what to expect can help reduce anxiety and increase comfort levels.
  1. Create a sensory-friendly environment:

  • Designate a quiet space: Identify a calm and quiet area where your child can retreat if they become overwhelmed. This space can serve as a safe haven where they can take a break and recharge.
  • Noise reduction: Bring noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to help minimize sensory overload from loud music or fireworks.
  • Visual supports: Consider using visual supports, such as visual schedules or cue cards, to assist your child in understanding and following the flow of activities.
  1. Communicate with others:

  • Educate family and friends: Inform those attending the BBQ about your child’s specific needs and sensitivities. Help them understand how they can support and include your child during the event.
  • Encourage empathy: Share information about autism with family and friends, so they can better understand and empathize with your child’s challenges and strengths.
  • Provide guidance: Offer simple suggestions on how others can engage with your child, such as using clear and concise language, giving them space when needed, and being patient and supportive.
  1. Plan inclusive activities:

  • Prepare interactive games: Organize activities that are inclusive and engaging for children of different abilities. Classic games like bean bag toss, ring toss, or sensory play stations can be enjoyable for everyone.
  • Collaborative tasks: Encourage cooperative activities, such as creating a memorial craft or setting up the BBQ together. This promotes teamwork and offers opportunities for social interaction in a structured environment.
  • Create a visual schedule: Use a visual schedule to outline the planned activities, so your child knows what is happening and can anticipate the next event.
  1. Support social interactions:

  • Role-play social scenarios: Practice social skills and conversations with your child beforehand. Teach them basic greetings, turn-taking, and sharing techniques.
  • Facilitate social connections: Pair your child with a supportive sibling or friend who can act as a social buddy during the event. Having a familiar companion can help your child feel more at ease and engaged.
  • Encourage self-advocacy: Teach your child to express their needs and preferences politely and assertively. This skill empowers them to navigate social situations and communicate effectively with others.


By implementing these tips, parents of children with autism can help create an enjoyable and inclusive experience during a Memorial Day BBQ. Remember, every child with autism is unique, so tailor these strategies to meet your child’s individual needs. With careful preparation, understanding, and support, you can help your child develop social skills, build connections, and participate in memorable family gatherings.


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Rhonda Stewart

Clinical Director

Rhonda Stewart, BCBA, NYS LBA, earned her Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism from the Sage Colleges. Rhonda has dedicated her career to working with individuals diagnosed with Autism since 2008. Rhonda has a wide range of experience working with individuals from ages 3 to adulthood in various settings including early intervention, schools, residential programs, group homes, day habilitation programs, center programs, and in-home services. Rhonda began working with families through insurances services in 2014. Rhonda is currently the Clinical Director at Yellow Bus ABA and works closely with the Executive Clinical Director, Estelle Parnes, to ensure services provided to our families are effective, families feel supported, and families have a positive experience with ABA services at Yellow Bus ABA.