Prepare your child on the spectrum for the holidays

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It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is right around the corner. Help your child with autism prepare for new experiences and expectations by following these simple tips below.

1. Reminders – Although your child may talk to some relatives on the phone, they may not see them on a regular basis. Help your child remember family members by showing them pictures or creating a family and friends book with information like thir names, kids names, where they live and how they are related.

3. Practice Situations – Many holiday parties and gatherings have specific etiquette and reoccurring family themes that you can prepare your child for in advance. Practice these situations in advance to prepare them for what they can expect and create a secret password with your child on the spectrum for those moments when they feel uncomfortable or uneasy so that you can break away from a particular situation and bring them to a quite place to cope with stressful moments

4. Bring Comfort Toys and Items – If your child with autism is shy, working on their social skills or may be uncomfortable at a large, loud family gathering help them initiate interactions by bringing familiar toys or items they can share with others. These items also work to keep your child on the spectrum occupied when they do not feel like interacting and prefer to spend some time away from the craziness that can arise at any large family function other people.

5. Review Expectations– Review and remind your child with autism of social expectations in advance, immediately before, and in some cases during the event. The excitement of being around people, eating holiday foods, and participating in activities can become overwhelming so child on the spectrum may quickly forget what they practiced. When your child exhibits appropriate behavior or quickly corrects inappropriate behavior, take the time to praise them and let them know they are doing a good job behaving properly.

The holidays are a wonderful time for participating in cherished traditions and making new memories. By making sure your child on the spectrum is prepared in advance with who they will see, what they can expect to experience, what kind of food might be there etc., and by role playing certain situations as well as creating a secret password, you are allowing your child to feel comfortable and prepared for any circumstance that arise.