With Hanukkah beginning next week, parents might be looking for ways to make the holiday season as enjoyable and problem-free as possible for their child with ASD. The Institute for Behavioral Training (IBT) has released a list of tips that could help.
IBT Director Cecila Knight says that children with autism usually having “a tough time coping with change,” and are often sensitive to “loud sounds, bright lights, and even touch.” Knight offers these tips to help reduce holiday-related stress:
- Make a daily schedule using pictures and words ahead of time to minimize bad reactions to unexpected activities. Include time for breaks and rest.
- Have your child help in this list of daily events. For example, grocery shopping, decorating, etc. This will give your child a sense of control over their day.
- Avoid too much boredom. A day trip to a museum or a venture sight-seeing offers a nice break.
- If there is a long commute or waiting period, make sure to bring along a toy or some type of entertainment.
- Remember to bring along visual cues, like a written schedule or AAC devices, wherever you go.
- Try to avoid staying at a family gathering too long, as large events can produce stress. Pick what part you’d like to stay for, like the meal, and stick with that.
- Utilize holiday craft activities to entertain your child at home.
- Pick your battles. Focus on the larger holiday things like social interaction and manners rather than the little things.
- Be consistent with your schedules i.e. lunch time, nap time, etc.
- Identify holiday stressers ahead of time. For example, if the endless hugs from family will upset your child, then practice the interaction ahead of time or set up a reward system.