Enjoying A Stress-free Holiday Season With A Child On The Spectrum
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.