7 Easy Ways To Prepare Your Autistic Child To Make The Most Of The Holiday Season

8th January 2024

With Christmas and New Year being just around the corner, every family on this planet will be up and ready for celebrations. While the whole world will be busy decorating and planning for the holidays, families with an autistic child might have a tough time doing the same. Children with autism have a tough time dealing with unfamiliar faces, noises, food, and unfamiliar places.

These situations can create a stressful environment as they differ from their daily routine expectations. If you want to make this holiday a memorable one, read on to learn about a few ways to do so.

Steps To Make Autistic Children Enjoy Their Holidays

Ahead of the celebrations, here are some gradual steps you can take to help your child navigate the stressful times:

  1. Use Social Stories

    A social story is just a little ‘book’ that explains in layman's words what your child can expect. A parent could easily create this using a pen and paper of any kind or even on a computer.

    To make sure your child grasps everything included, read this social story aloud several times before the gathering. Since every child is unique, make sure to provide a reward for reading and listening to them.

  2. Create An Outline For The Day

    The majority of autistic families and their kids follow a set daily schedule at home. Many autistic children would rather keep their routine the same, even though the holidays require a different setup for the day.

    They can better grasp what to expect by outlining for the day or the trip. This can be a useful preventative measure to ensure that nothing surprises or upsets your child and can help to avoid confusion.

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  3. Gradually Decorate Your Home

    For children with autism, large or numerous changes that occur suddenly or over a brief period can be overwhelming. Think about gradually decorating your house over a week or two. To help your child visualize what to expect, you could show them pictures of your home decorated from past years.

    Including your child in the decorating of your home and the purchase of decorations can also be beneficial. Another option is to make a schedule that specifies which decorations go up and when. For instance, the train will be installed on Sunday, the tree will be installed on Saturday, etc.

  4. Occupy Time With Toys And Activities

    Generally speaking, wherever you spend the holidays, there will be some downtime. Your child will have familiar objects and a sense of normalcy from their daily routine if you bring some of their favorite toys and activities.

    You might also think about buying some brand-new, interesting things to keep your kids entertained all day or even on the way there and back.

  5. Plan Your Travel Time

    Even a brief car ride could be challenging for your child, even if you're not going very far. Plan for frequent stops along the way and also take bathroom breaks to allow your family to have plenty of time to reach their destination without any rush. You can also bring snacks for the rise both familiar and unfamiliar so that your child is excited to try.

    Furthermore, download new apps or games on your tablet or smartphone to ensure that your child stays entertained throughout the journey. Think about packing additional items so that your child won't make a mess in the car.

  6. Prepare Ahead Of Mealtimes

    Many families find that mealtimes can be difficult, especially if your child is not familiar with the menu items. If you know that other people are bringing different dishes for the holiday, think about bringing something you know your child will love. Even if your child just takes one bite, encourage them to try new foods.

    Encourage them when they do attempt something new. To familiarize your child with these options, you can also start incorporating traditional holiday foods into your meals at home before the holidays. To ensure your child gets the nutrients they require, you can also pack an extra meal and snacks if they refuse to eat anything that isn't in their comfort zone.

  7. Use Visual Support And Reinforcers

    Make sure you stick to your child's visual support system when you're not at home, such as a visual schedule, token board, or other reinforcement system. Make sure to use the same reinforcer. For example, if your child gets one for successfully sitting through a meal at home for a set period.

    Given the additional distractions your child may encounter, you might also find yourself giving them more reinforcement more often.

This Holiday Season, Prepare To Enjoy

Holidays don't always have to be stressful or induce panic. Rather, with these tips you can have your best time with your autistic child. Plan your celebrations without fearing that your child will retaliate or behave badly. If you want to know more about your child's temperament and triggers, try to pursue online course on autism for parents. This will allow you to stay on your toes and enjoy your celebrations and gatherings.

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Written By: Sheetal Sharma      

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