Family and Friends Barbecue Time!
For this particular event we brought chalk, bubbles and a couple soccer balls knowing that there wasn't going to be any activities for the children other than running around and hanging out. Play that is unstructured breeds trouble for some of our children with social and behavioural challenges. By planning ahead of time and bringing some activities this gave our children a more structured activity, that appeared appropriate and was open enough to draw the other children at the event to join in.
We also had a couple of our higher functioning adult children attend with us and they had agreed ahead of time to take turns with us overseeing the younger children. When overseeing the children, as their challenges are severe and ages young, we will play with them, encouraging others to join in. When the game or activity is underway, we (the adult) will take a break, as the game continues and our children are given chances to interact still in a supported manner. Having 4 adults present to oversee the 10 that struggle we were able to take turns mingling with the adults and enjoy the barbecue. If we did not have adult children available we would have hired a babysitter to attend with us, so we as adults can enjoy the event also.
As nothing brings out bad behaviour like a "starved" child, that can't find any food on the table that they are comfortable with, we always feed them prior to arriving at the barbecue. By feeding them before arriving, they are better able to wait for the food to be served and for their turn in line. Also as this was a potluck event we brought an item that our children enjoy eating and made sure that we brought enough for others to enjoy also.
Before arriving we also told the children that we wouldn't be staying that late as we needed to stop at the store. The "stop" was a pre planned exit strategy should any behaviours get out of hand and it was also a preventative measure shortening the stay for success. We find having short stays that the children have a better chance at success and it is much more enjoyable leaving early, than leaving with someone kicking and screaming.