Holidays can be overwhelming and overstimulating for autistic kids, between social gatherings, major changes to routines, and restrictions due to Covid. Here are some tips to try:
- Keep a structure and routine
The holidays are often unpredictable. New people, new food, new places… Make sure to plan before an event, use calendars or social stories to explain what is happening and when, and practice behaviors ahead of time so your child is ready to handle something new. At the Kids Clinic, we love using Canva to create amazing planners and social stories.
- Choose sensory-friendly options
The holidays can sometimes feel like a sensory overload! Look for reduced sensory opportunities, such as online shopping, or seek retailers that offer more supportive experiences, such as quiet hours. Coles and Woolworths offer a low-sensory shopping experience by making changes in store, such as reducing noise and distractions. We love that!
- Explain your child’s needs
Help your extended family and friends by giving them some tips about how best to reach out to and include your child by modifying expectations, playing particular games, or cooking specific foods. Writing an ‘autism ID’ listing your child’s favorite foods and sensory toys, their special interests, and what to do if they’re having a meltdown or a shutdown can be a great way to help your family and friends understand what’s helpful. Aim for an inclusive holiday!
- Bring calming tools
If you’re leaving home for the holidays – even if it’s just for a day -, pack your child’s favorite foods, sensory toys, and calming tools. The holidays can also be a great time to practice mindfulness, whether it’s a mindful walk, 10 minutes of yoga, or with an app! We can’t recommend enough Calm, Headspace, Moshi, DreamyKid, and Smiling Mind.
- Lower your expectations
Sure, the holiday season can be a time when family and friends get together for a joyous celebration. But it can also be a time of self-care, rest, and quiet celebration. That’s okay too.
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