Bright lights, loud music, busy crowds, new situations, interacting with new people and strangers—the holidays can be panic-inducing for someone on the Autism Spectrum. As adults and children alike count down the days until the holly jolly holidays, others are just trying to make it through without added and undue stress.
Holidays mean unexpected visitors, sensory overload, and a change in the normal routine. It can mean visiting family at unfamiliar places, new foods, and strange smells. These are all things we tend to overlook unless we are familiar with ASD. Maybe you have a family member recently diagnosed or you’re now part of a blended family and Autism Spectrum Disorder is a new concept, or maybe, you’re just trying to help everyone feel comfortable enough to enjoy the holidays. Either way, it’s important to remember that not everything has the same meaning to every person. What makes one child super excited can have another in full-on panic mode. So, how do we create a magical holiday environment that embraces and includes everyone? Here are some tips for making the holidays happy for everyone:
It’s not uncommon for schools to have some sort of celebration to kick of the holiday break. These parties usually include food, fun, and games. It’s a deviation from the norm and that can be difficult for kids with ASD. Even if you or your child aren’t attending a party at a school, here are a couple helpful tips:
- Create a written agenda. It helps most children to visualize things. This is especially true if it’s something difficult for them.
- Teach games in advance. Kids with ASD and ADHD do better when they’re almost overly prepared. This helps alleviate some anxiety.
- Include sensory friendly activities. Check out our Pinterest board for some sensory crafts and other ideas for ASD friendly holiday ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/chubuddy/holidaze/
It’s important to keep in mind that changes of any kind are difficult for children, especially those with ASD. This is true for things kids consider fun too. It can all become a little too much—too much fun, too much new, too much noise, too much activity. Be patient and understanding. Don’t force kids with ASD to eat something they don’t like or wear something uncomfortable. Make sure there are soothing sensory items to help calm kids down. Chubuddy’s Cord Zilla is perfect for on-the-go sensory chewing in a discreet way. It attaches to most sweatshirts and is soft yet strong. Visit our website to learn more.