Ten Tips for the Holiday Season

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:

  1. Make a daily schedule using pictures and words ahead of time to minimize bad reactions to unexpected activities. Include time for breaks and rest.
  2. 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.
  3. Avoid too much boredom. A day trip to a museum or a venture sight-seeing offers a nice break.
  4. If there is a long commute or waiting period, make sure to bring along a toy or some type of entertainment.
  5. Remember to bring along visual cues, like a written schedule or AAC devices, wherever you go.
  6. 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.
  7. Utilize holiday craft activities to entertain your child at home.
  8. Pick your battles. Focus on the larger holiday things like social interaction and manners rather than the little things.
  9. Be consistent with your schedules i.e. lunch time, nap time, etc.
  10. 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.

Tweet us @HearOurVoices or @icare4autism with your tips!

Learning How to Converse

A 14-week program is offered through the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus, where high-functioning teenagers with autism learn the social skills they may struggle with.

Social interaction and social skills is something many diagnosed with autism struggle with, and thus require a different type of learning how to make and maintain healthy friendships and relationships. The instructors use unique methods to teach their students, and have been quite successful in teaching basic social skills.

Assistant director of the program, Ali Cunningham, explains,

“It’s not a skill that comes natural to teens on the autism spectrum… don’t learn this just by watching other teens and then acquiring the skills, they actually have to be taught the skill. Most of them may have difficulty initiating friendships where they have very few or almost no friends, others are really good at the initiation part but then that maintenance part where people have to stand you for a long time gets a little tricky.”[i]

We at Shema Kolainu understand the value of teaching social skills for those who may struggle with the necessary skill-set. We offer an excellent workshop series, including “Teaching Play to Children with Autism,” to be held November 21st. Please email krobinson@skhov.org if you are interested in attending this workshop, or learning about the other workshops available.


[i] “News Channel 5” FAU autism center provides instruction for teens in social and conversational skills. 29 Oct 2013. Web. < http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/region_s_palm_beach_county/boca_raton/fau-autism-center-provides-instruction-for-teens-in-social-and-conversational-skills>