The holidays can be a stressful time of year for anyone, but for those who have a child with autism, all of the hustle and bustle can be especially challenging. Here are some tips to help both you and your child with autism enjoy the holidays with as little stress as possible:
- Help your child learn what to expect for upcoming events like large family dinners or holiday parties. Read books with similar situations to help your child get used to the idea. Role-playing and “let’s pretend” games also serve as a great opportunity for practice and can help your child ease into a new, potentially stressful experience.
- Prepare a short, clear way to explain autism to family and friends that may not be familiar with the situation. Briefly let them know some of your child’s major triggers so that they can be avoided if possible. Also, let them know how you and your child typically handle the situation if your child is anxious or upset and what they can do (or not do) to help. Letting others know what to expect and what your child may be feeling can help relieve anxiety and tension.
- When visiting family or attending any kind of event, make sure there is a calm, quiet spot that you can get to easily if your child needs to retreat from all the activity and calm down. Make sure to identify the spot well before you may need it, to decrease your stress and your child’s if they are nearing their breaking point.
- Keep your child’s schedule as regular as possible, even if you are visiting family or at an event. Don’t be afraid to communicate to your hosts what you need in order to make your child and yourself comfortable.
- During and after the holiday, talk about all the new events with your child. Take pictures and talk about them, recalling what you did and saw and how your child felt. These pictures can serve as a visual aid to help your child tell others about their holiday. You can also take these pictures out the following year and review them before the holiday to help your child mentally prepare.
Want to learn more? If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to email@example.com. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.
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