Family members and friends with autism are sometimes challenged by changes that come along with holiday celebrations. Sweet treats, disrupted routines, bright lights, travel, house guests, new foods and novel experiences can be overwhelming for all of us. Not to mention the added stresses of 2020.
We are committed to supporting your family as you navigate the holidays! Here is a list of tips and tricks that can help you plan for the festivities:
PREPARE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
- Review the day ahead: Discuss activities, role play (ex. unwrapping presents) and use visuals/social stories to convey what is expected.
- Consider social distancing: Identify what the expectations of the group are, and pack accordingly (face masks, sanitizer, etc.).
- Consider sensory challenges: Bring noise cancelling headphones and other calming items for your loved one.
- Arrive early: Get acclimated before others arrive.
- Maintain regular routines and schedules as much as possible: Routines surrounding mealtimes, bedtime routines, hygiene schedules, are important to consider.
- Dress comfortably: Let your kids be kids. Comfy clothes will reduce the day’s stress.
- Consider the menu: Make sure that easily accessible foods are in line with your child’s dietary restrictions. If turkey and mashed potatoes are not your child’s favorite, make sure to pack something that you know your child will eat.
PLAN A SAFE / CALM SPACE
- Plan for noise and create a quite space: Ask family and friends to be aware of noise levels, and designate a quite retreat if things become overwhelming.
HAVE REASONABLE EXPECATIONS
- Embrace the differences: Your celebration activities don’t have to match the stereotypical traditions. Celebrate the strides that your family has made, and get excited for future achievements!