Autism and the Holidays

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for children with autism and their parents.  Changes in routine, more noise, and more people are all things that can affect children with autism.  However, with planning and some accommodations, holiday gatherings can be enjoyable for everyone.

With the holiday season approaching, it is time to prepare your child with autism for the holidays. Here is how we recommend you handle the holidays. #stepstoprogress #ASD Click To Tweet

Keep Your Routines

If you can keep routines as normal as possible that will help your child.  If there is a standard time to get up, a normal morning routine, and a typical breakfast, keeping those routines in place will help.  Even if you have traveled and are at another location, being consistent with usual routines as much as possible will help.  

Be Accommodating With Your Children

Holiday events may not be the time to expect your child to comply with new expectations.  If your child has been working on a new skill that has not been learned or mastered, such as requesting something before it is given to them, a holiday may not be the time to insist that they work on that skill.  Instead, it might be best to put that lesson on hold.  You can pick it up after the day is over, but on a day that may be stressful for other reasons, it might be best not to add to the stress by also expecting your child to work on a skill they have not mastered. 

When planning holiday events, think about what your child with autism can do that they will enjoy while other family members are busy cooking or entertaining.  Your child with autism may prefer to be in a quiet area and play with a favorite toy or watch favorite videos.  Giving your child a new version of a toy that they like, whether it’s a new truck, doll, fidget spinner, bubbles, Legos, or even downloading new videos to an electronic device, might give them something to enjoy and keep them busy during the day.  

If your child enjoys having an activity list, make a list with things that are both engaging and fun.  Once the list has been completed be sure to reward your child!  

Have a Stress Plan

Plan for what you will do if your child gets stressed.  Think about the things that help your child to de-stress and plan so that you are ready to implement those if needed.  Would headphones to shut out the noise be helpful?  

Getting outside and away from the crowd for a bit might also be helpful.  Plan in advance and find out whether there is a park nearby or an area where one or both parents can take your child outside to walk or play and get some exercise and fresh air.  

Regardless of what your child does, if your child would prefer to be alone, be sure to check on them regularly.  If one parent needs to stay with the child for some time or at all times, parents can make a plan in advance to ensure that each parent can have the opportunity to visit with family and friends.  

If your child with autism does enjoy being the center of attention then this is an opportunity for you to help them with social interaction.  You can help your child learn to interact with others while helping your families and friends interact with your child.  

Have Fun!

Holidays can be stressful for children with autism and their families, but with awareness of your child’s needs, planning, and accommodations, holiday celebrations can be a great success!

Contact us for more information about holiday preparations.

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