Tis The Season for Expectations and Stress

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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Scott Center

Tis The Season for Expectations and Stress Image

Solutions to Make It A Great Holiday

Holidays can be tough for children with autism, but can be even tougher on their parents and siblings. But the good news is that for every problem you might encounter, there are real-world solutions you can put in place to make the season bright.

  1. Try to avoid sensory challenges. Do you really need to take your child shopping with you? Try to shop online, find a sitter, or ask someone else to pick up some items for you. While flashing lights on a Christmas tree might overwhelm your child, gently changing lights might charm him. Luckily, modern LED Christmas lights offer multiple ways to enjoy the twinkling. You can also, in many cities, find "sensory friendly" Santas, shops, and other holidays offerings.

  2. Pick and choose what will work for your family. Most people with autism can handle some change to their routines, but very few can flexibly handle complete disruption. Knowing your child as you do, you can pick and choose the kinds of changes he or she can handle most easily.

  3. Practice the big events. If you're heading for a special event or experience, plan and practice behaviors ahead of time so your child is ready to handle something new. For example, if you're going to church for Christmas services, take your child to the decorated church at a quiet time.

  4. Say "no thanks" when necessary. You're invited to a holiday party and the "whole family" is asked to come. It'll be crowded and loud, and it will keep your child up past bedtime. In cases like this, the best option is usually to just say no (or to hire a sitter if that's a practical option).

  5. Bring your own necessities. If you're leaving home for the holidays, don't assume that anyone else will have what your child needs to maintain his or her equilibrium. Bring along a DVD player and videos. Pack your child's favorite foods, blankets, pillow, and other paraphernalia.

  6. Help your family help you. Most families want to do all they can to make you and your child feel welcome, but they need to know what's helpful. Help them to help you! Let family members know which Christmas presents would be most welcome, which kinds of games and activities your child enjoys, and how to tempt your child with his favorite foods. If it's appropriate in your family, you can also ask for time off so that you, too, can enjoy time with relatives without your child in tow.

  7. Always have an escape route. Both you and your child need to know what will happen if you get too much of family fun. What will you tell your family, and where will you go to get away? Is there a quiet room available? If not, can you head home or to a hotel room? 

  8. Change your expectations. Christmas can be a time when family and friends get together for a joyous celebration. But it can also be a time of quiet contemplation, or mellow family afternoons, or even an evening in front of the TV watching favorite movies.

  9. Take care of your other kids. If your autistic child has siblings, be sure they don't get pushed aside as you take care of your child with special needs. If there are traditions or experiences they love, they should get the chance to enjoy them. That may mean a little juggling and hard work, but your children will thank you!

  10. Take care of yourself. It's easy to get so busy with your child's needs that you forget your own. Your child's experience will depend a great deal on your own feelings of calm and seasonal joy. That means you, too, need a chance to experience your favorite holiday events, movies, and food.


We wish you the best holiday season yet!

Some of this information was originally posted at:  https://www.verywellhealth.com/holidays-with-an-autistic-child-4156462

For further information and access to ABA therapy to address elopement and other challenging behaviors, contact The Scott Center for Autism Treatment.