guide to Parties and Social Gatherings for Autistic folks

Clipart - DJ playing music with rainbow glitter curtain in the background

You are invited

"You are invited" written in multi coloured cursive font on a torn piece of paper
  1. First of all, it is okay to say No to a party simply because you don’t want to go.
    • If it is a host you are not that close to, you can always say things like: Sorry I already have a prior commitment that day and I cannot cancel it.
  2. Now, if you decide to go, wear comfortable clothes. If it is a party with theme or dress code, wear the comfortable version of that dress code if such a thing exists.
  3. Before you leave, lay out your “returned home” clothes , makeup remover etc. so you can change into something comforting and get ready for bed immediately.
  4. What you can pack for the party:
    • energy bar or snack if you have sensory difficulty with food textures,
    • noise cancelling headphones,
    • earplugs or noise cancelling earphones,
    • stim toy.

You are at the party now

A woman sitting in an armchair holding a glass filled with orange drink. There is a table with snacks in front of her. The room has a bar in the background, along with an empty sofa and a sidetable with a rainbow artwork. The clock shows that the time is 7PM.
  1. Try to be the first ones to arrive if you can. You can choose a spot you like and gradually get used to people flowing in. 
  2. Grab a glass of water or drink and hold on to it. People will automatically assume you are drinking and having “fun”.
  3. If you have sensory difficulty with food texture, eat before you go to the party. Have a plate with something and people will think you have been eating. Keep a small packet of energy bar or small snacks in your bag in case you really get hungry again.
  4. It is okay to shut down once in a while. 
  5. If it is your birthday and you do not want people to sing, tell them. It is your day and they should listen to you. 
  6. If you have a close friend or partner in the party, have a code word or gesture that will inform them that you are in distress or overwhelmed.
  7. If you feel overwhelmed, try to find a quiet corner. If there is no quiet corner, offer to quickly step out and get something (ice, cigarette, wine). Walk around the block for a bit before you return.
  8. If you still feel overwhelmed and want to leave, do so.
  9. Set yourself a deadline of when you want to return home. Leave at that time. Acceptable excuses to leave early include:
    • I have an early day tomorrow.
    • I have a headache.
    • I forgot my medicines and I need to take them now.
    • I started my period just now and I should head home soon.
    • My housemate/neighbour/pet sitter called and my pet is not feeling well.

Unwind from the party

A woman wearing pink pajama set sleeping on a bed with a pillow and bolster pillow.
  1. Once you are back home, change into comfortable clothes.
  2. Take a shower if you have energy.
  3. Listen to nice soothing music/ podcast/ audiobook.
  4. Cuddle with your pet or partner or both.
  5. Drink water if you had alcohol.
  6. Sleep!
  7. Make sure you have a slower day tomorrow.
"Let's Party" written in colourful cursive font, with "* Terms and Conditions Applied" written in smaller black font below

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