Autistic Children and Holidays-How You Can Make it the Best Holiday Yet
By Sylvia Rolfe
Having a child with autism can be difficult on any day. Make that day a holiday and the stress increases ten-fold. So many changes in settings, noise level, schedules and many other things make it very difficult for the autistic child to cope. What can you do to make the holiday season easier on your child?
First start preparing them way in advance. If they know a change is coming, they may take it easier, then if they simply have to cope with the change that day. Try to explain what will be happening, so that they have an idea ahead of time what to expect.
Give them safe zones. Is the house going to be full will people? Make sure that your child knows that it is okay for them to go to their own room if they are feeling overwhelmed by everything. Not going to be at home, bring a comfort item with you, or speak to the host and see if a room cannot be set up for the child in case, they need to remove themselves from the situation. Just a little preparation beforehand can make all the difference in the stress level of the day.
Involve them. Let them pick the music that is playing, let them help decorate or pick what the lights on the tree do. By giving them some control over the environment, you’re giving them something to focus on, other than the things that may stress them.
Don’t overdo it. Most children find the excitement of Christmas overwhelming. If non-autistic children find holidays overwhelming, imagine how your autistic child feels. Limit what you’re doing in a day. Don’t spend an entire day out and about visiting lots of relatives. Instead try to spread out the visits over a week or have one parent remain at home with your child, while the other parent makes the rounds. Do whatever you can to reduce the stressful situations for your child during the holiday season to make it easier on all involved.
Try to maintain the normal routine as much as possible. With the holidays our schedules become hectic and very off the normal. Do you best to maintain as much normalcy as you can for your child, and you will find it much easier to cope yourself. Try to keep bedtime the same, bedtime routines how they should be. Keep as much of the day how it should be to ease the difficulties your child may have with the holidays.
Holiday seasons can go smoothly with an autistic child as long as you plan things out well. Just remember to let the child have some control over the situation, and line up safe zones for them for the times stress is just too much.
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Mandu Usoro is a lifestyle blogger, freelance writer, experienced homeschooler and US Army Veteran with a BS Degree in Social Work and AA Degrees in Psychology as well as Health Care Administration. She enjoys spending time with her family, advocating for her special needs son and writing for fun and inspiration. You can get in touch with her on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and at https://www.homeschoolspecneedstidbits.com/contact-us