NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — April marks Autism Awareness Month.

Kids on the autism spectrum want to play and have fun like any other child, but going to a birthday party or even a playdate can be a challenge.

Executive Director for the Phoenix Center Julie Mower stopped by with some tips on how you can make everyone more comfortable, some of which can be found below:

  • Provide frequent breaks from stimuli such as noise, light or movement (lighting can be adjusted to prevent overstimulation, as well)
  • Parents of children with autism should clearly communicate and discuss with their child what will happen on the playdate beforehand and provide rules, boundaries and plenty of preparation.
    • Bring one or two toys that your child is familiar that he/she would be interested in playing with other children. Practice “play” and turn-taking as a way of preparing your child with autism for an upcoming playdate.
  • Parents of neurotypical children should also clearly communicate what will happen on the playdate beforehand and provide rules, boundaries and plenty of preparation.
    • Talk about Autism with your child and explain that while kids with autism may play differently, they still enjoy playing and building friendships with other kids.
  • Start with easy to enjoy games (such as Simon Says and ball games on the playground) or group activities, sharing a meal, building or interacting with toys, depending on the age.
  • The host family could provide access to toys/games that the visiting child with autism is familiar with — this can offer a level of comfort to begin the playdate.

Watch & Listen LIVE