Monthly Archives: December 2019

Creating A Fun and Festive New Years Celebration At Home

 In just a few days we will be saying goodbye to 2019 and welcoming a brand new decade filled with hope, excitement and opportunity. If you haven’t already planned your New Years celebration, here are some suggestions on how to have a fun and festive celebration at home with your child who has been diagnosed with autism.

If you are on the East Coast re-set the clock. If you are on the West, celebrate “New York” New Years!

Do your kids generally go to sleep at 7 or 8 p.m.? Don’t make the little ones have to strain to stay up until midnight. Instead, if you live on the east coast, set your clock forward a couple of hours so that they can still celebrate at mock midnight — they don’t have to know it’s early.

If you are on the west coast, the best way to “ring in the New Year” is to watch the ball drop in Time Square. Your children will get the sense that they are celebrating the end of one year, and the beginning of a new year, but in reality it is only 9 pm and only an hour or so past their regular scheduled bed time.

In both cases, be sure to start preparing your child with autism a few days prior to the new year. Let them know they will be staying up late, prepare them for the ball drop, the noise makers they may hear on TV, or fireworks they may see. Create a story about the New Years celebration so that they know what to expect and are happily anticipating a new beginning.

Head to the kitchen

Cooking with your child on the spectrum can be a lot of fun. Get them involved by asking them if they want to bake cookies, make their favorite meal, or bake a cake…whatever it is, use the hours leading up to midnight to prepare something special with your child to enhance their New Years celebration.

Toast with sparkling cider

At midnight, pour a round of sparkling cider into plastic champagne glasses. Toast the New Year with your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, and reflect on all your blessings from the last year.

Create a memory book

New Year’s Eve is a great time for crafting and scrapbooking. Have your child with autism help put together an album or memory book of all the fun activities and events your family experienced in the last year. Include pictures, drawings and ideas from each family member, no matter how little. Make a new book every year on New Year’s Eve — you’ll treasure them for years to come.

Now that you have a plan in place to create a memorable and festive New Years celebration with your child on the spectrum, we know that your evening will be much more meaningful than any party, club or gathering you may have gone to in previous years.

All of us at Beautiful Minds Center want to wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. May your homes be filled with laughter and your hearts be filled with love.

Here’s to a fantastic new decade! Happy 2020.

Tips For Holiday Travel

Many of us will be traveling this holiday season to visit our family and friends. Help make holiday travel go smoothly by preparing your child on the spectrum for what to expect when traveling and while away.

Family vacations create memories and will teach your child on the spectrum about new places. They also provide an often much needed break for you, your family and your child. Unfortunately, some children, who have been diagnosed with autism, have a difficult time with new situations, people, and schedules.

Here are some ideas for making vacations and weekend trips less stressful and more enjoyable.

Prepare Kids  Unfamiliar places and situations can be very stressful for some children with autism. Prepare your child on the spectrum for a trip by showing images of where they will be staying, activities, people going on the trip, and transportation are helpful for setting expectations. If you are flying, discuss the security process and etiquette for how to behave at the airport and on a plane. Also if they are expecting Santa, make sure you let them know that Santa can find them wherever you go!

Involve Kids in Planning – Unless you are going to visit family in the same location as always this holiday season, you may want to involve your child on the spectrum in your planning process. Consider your children’s interests when booking a get away so that they look forward to the trip and know there will be plenty of fun activities for them to do. Before a trip, let your child on the spectrum help pack their suitcases so they know what they will have with them. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the weather and appropriate clothes for activities. Pack and have readily available a small bag of toys and books for car rides, unexpected waiting periods, and downtimes.

Create a Sense of Familiarity – Do what you can to maintain a somewhat consistent routine while away. Although sleep schedules may be difficult to follow, but keep wake up and bedtime as close to the child’s usual schedule as possible. Familiar objects also help children with consistency. If a child reads a favorite story before bed, carries personal items in a backpack, or uses a stress ball, be sure to pack these items.

Remember Downtime is Important –Families often over plan vacations. Spending time with friends and family, going from one location to another, or doing a number of things at one place can exhaust children. Be sure to remember that your child on the spectrum needs some downtime to play on their own, to rest, maybe even to take a nap. Make sure you keep that in mind when planning your days away.

Create Memories – Most of all use your time away with your family to create memories that will last a lifetime, take lots of pictures, buy a travel diary before the trip and if possible try to spend a few minutes every evening discussing the day’s events, so that your child doesn’t forget what they did by the time they get home.

Enjoy Stress-Free Holiday Outings

Do you find your calendar of events filling up this month? Is it full of holiday parties, family get-togethers, special events, etc? If this is the case, and you expect your holiday season to be a busy one, then we are here to help make your holiday activities a little less stressful this year.

Here are some ways you can help your child with autism plan ahead for the holidays:

No surprises – There is nothing that causes more stress then not knowing what to expect, so this year be clear with your child with autism on where you are going, who you will see, what you will be doing or celebrating, etc. IF they know what to expect, there will be no surprises and less ways to create a stressful situation.

Provide Visual and Verbal support – Depending on the needs of your child on the spectrum, it is sometimes more effective to tell them and show them what they can expect from a particular outing. Sometimes it’s not enough to tell them that you are going to a holiday party at the home of a family friend, sometimes, it’s best to show pictures of your family friends, their home, maybe even some of the food they can expect to eat etc. Other times reading stories about the holidays or drawing pictures with your child with autism will reduce anxiety. Images from stories are also a good way to illustrate what your child can expect from a given situation.

Involve Your Child with Autism – Often your child on the spectrum is told where they are going, what they will be doing, and how they need to behave. This holiday season try involving them in some of the decision making so that they have the chance to take ownership in some of the activities they are part of. Letting your child with autism make a few choices on their own in an outing can help them feel like they are part of the process.

Tell your child when they’ve done a good job! As you go through the day, make sure you take the time to praise your child on the spectrum for listening, following directions, and being kind to others. This will show your child with autism that they get more positive attention for following the rules instead of breaking them.

Delays Will Happen…Plan For Them – It is rare that things go exactly as planned. It is best to prepare in advance so that an already unplanned situation doesn’t escalate into something worse. To do so, keep your child’s basic needs in mind, make sure to have snacks, water, portable activities and games etc with you so that they don’t feel the consequences of the delay in an adverse way. Also when it comes to shopping during the holiday seasons, if you know your child with autism can’t handle a busy or crowded store, plan ahead to either go without them, order gifts and goodies online, or prepare them for the noise and ciaos that can happen this busy shopping season