The holidays are right around the corner and while this is a magical time of the year for most, it could prove to be stressful for children with ASD. Holidays lead to changes in schedules and routines which might act as stressors for the children. This time of the year might cause sensory sensitivities to flare because of large crowds and bright lights.
Here are some tips to help make this holiday season enjoyable for your child –
Create a safe space
Familiarize yourself with shopping centers and possible family get together venues beforehand. This will make it easy to decide on quiet spots away from all the hustle and bustle which will help your child decompress in anxious situations.
Choosing a travel destination
Traveling causes major changes in daily routines which may prove to be disruptive for your child. Planning ahead helps a lot. Vacations where schedules are flexible and unhurried may be ideal for the child. Ensure that the place you choose to travel to has activities that your child would enjoy doing. Bombarding the child with multiple activities might act as a stressor. Contacting airlines, hotels, restaurants ahead of time and explaining that you need special accommodations for your child will save you a great deal of stress. Don’t forget to pack a special bag of essentials with materials that she/he might be interested in.
Familiarize the child with any upcoming guests/relatives beforehand
Visitors are an important aspect of the holiday season. Making the child aware about any possible guests visiting in advance, helps prepare her/him. Prepare a photo album of all the possible visitors and allow the child to access the photos every day. Talk about each relative/guest to the child. This eliminates the surprise element and makes it easy on the child when encountering and interacting with the visitors.
Avoid elements of surprise
Sudden unexpected changes could be hard for your child. Make sure your child knows all the plans and events planned for the holidays in advance. Put up a visual schedule, like a calendar or photos, which will help prepare the child for any future changes in the routine. Try and avoid last minute shopping trips or party plans which might catch the child off guard.
Cherish the memories It is completely alright if every moment is not perfect or does not go as planned. The important thing is to cherish every small memory and focus on spending time together. Don’t forget to take time off for yourself and give yourself a break every now and again