The holiday season conjures up mostly positive associations for a majority of Americans. But this time of year comes with its fair share of complications as well. This year, the holidays are bound to be significantly different than they have been in recent memory. Still, if your child is on the autism spectrum, it can pose some unique challenges for them. With this in mind, we’ve laid out a few tips to help you prepare your child for the holidays.
Give Them Sensory Gifts
By now, we’re sure you’re aware of the importance of sensory play for your child. Buying gifts for children with ASD can be difficult, but often, some of the most successful ones are sensory toys. Playdough is a popular option, but the possibilities are practically endless. A quick internet search for ‘sensory toys’ should yield dozens of results.
If your child will receive gifts from friends or relatives, you might want to suggest some of these sensory toys to them as a potential gift.
Every child with autism is different. You know your child best. How do they handle change? If you have found that they do not handle sudden change very well, then you should keep this in mind when it comes to holiday decorations.
Thankfully, there are ways to make the decoration process easier on your child and you alike. Before making any change—be it putting up a tree or putting lights in the windows—let them know. This can help to prepare them for any sudden changes that could be disorienting.
If they seem to respond well to changes when you pre-warn them, you may even consider involving your child in decorating. See how they handle putting a few ornaments on a tree, for instance.
You may also find that decorating just isn’t worth it. If your child with autism does not respond well to these changes, ask yourself the following question: are holiday decorations worth it if they come at the expense of my child’s emotional wellbeing?
Leave a Room “Holiday-Free”
When bringing your child to a social event, it’s always helpful to make sure they have a quiet room they can escape to if they feel overwhelmed. Since most of us will be celebrating at home this year, try to leave one room “holiday-free.”
A good candidate is your child’s bedroom, but any room in the house will do. As much as possible, try to keep this room free from holiday decorations. You want it to seem as though nothing has changed. If possible, select a room with a closing door that can help to muffle sound.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.