Tips for Celebrating Holidays with Your Autistic Child

The holidays are all about being with family and enjoying the festivities. This can be very difficult for a child with Autism and does not necessarily mean that the holidays are ruined, but as a parent of an autistic child, you just have to prepare a little earlier.  Here are some tips for celebrating the holidays with your special needs child.

1. Plan visits with family and friends for short time periods because the shorter the visit, then the less likely your son or daughter will get overstressed, tired, or overwhelmed. The smaller the family get-togethers are, the better.

2. Do not force your child to participate in activities they do not like and allow them the opportunity to choose where to sit and adjust this accordingly, depending on the age development of the child and/or their flexibility to change.

3. Keep your child’s schedule. If bed time is at eight in the evening, stick to it. Explain to visitors that your child’s needs come first, and they need their sleep. Taking a sleepy child somewhere will be asking for trouble. If there is something that requires them staying up later in the evening try to get a nap in the afternoon. This will help the child enjoy the activity later in the day.

4. Spread holiday activities out over a few days. This way your child does not become too overwhelmed. There is no rule stating that you have to visit all the family in one day. They would much rather see your child in a happy mood than in the midst of a meltdown.

5. Leave your child home while Christmas shopping. If your Autistic child does not like crowds, then, by all means, do not take them Christmas shopping. Leave them home with your spouse, or other responsible care giver. It is hard enough to deal with the crowded stores alone. It could be miserable bringing an unhappy child along.
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6. Consider opening a few presents at a time.  An autistic child often has issues with over stimulation. By opening a few presents at a time the child will not become too overwhelmed and can enjoy their gifts.

7. If you have your child on a special diet make sure friends and family know this. You do not want other people feeding your child things that could ruin the progress you have made. Some people might not agree with your choices about your child’s diet. Be strong and stick to your beliefs.

8. Remember the reason for the holidays.  Spending time with family and loved ones. Enjoy the holiday with your Autistic child and be thankful for all you have in your life.

9. Reward your child for their good behavior while visiting others, as this will help with unwanted behaviors and the child will know they can earn a prize so they can work harder at behaving.

10. Relax. If your child senses stress or anxiety from you they will become uneasy.

The holidays with an Autistic child can be a wonderful time with a little extra planning. Forget about the daily problems and struggles you have. Remember all the good things you have. Most of all enjoy the holidays with your Autistic child.


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Mandu Usoro, US Army Veteran, Experienced Homeschooler, Parent Advocate and  is the founder of Homeschool Special Needs Tidbits, a website/weblog about homeschooling, public school education,  special needs children, personal bookstore, and articles about educating special needs children and the tools needed for success.