The holidays can be stressful for everyone, but sometimes the changes in environment, guest visits, or busy schedules can cause added difficulties for children on the Autistic Spectrum.
ABC Pediatrics wants your family to be prepared for every holiday situation, which is why we have created a Holiday Autism Survival Guide – or, more accurately, tips and ideas for how to handle the holiday’s stress with your little one.
Regardless of age or the location of your child on the Autistic Spectrum, some extra meltdowns often come on the heels of the holidays.
We at ABC Pediatrics believe that every moment is a learning opportunity, even the extra stresses of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Let’s walk together to learn more about how to survive the holiday stress for you, your family, and your child.
Holidays Hints for Autism & Overloads
Plan for Sensory Overload Situations
Sensory issues commonly co-occur with ASD and can make situations quickly become overwhelming for your little one.
And if the holiday season is often thought of as overwhelming for adults, think of the overwhelming quality some holiday parties, family reunions, or festivities and stores can have for your child with Autism.
Make sure you have an ‘escape plan’ or mitigation techniques ready in case a situation quickly becomes too much to handle.
This can look different for each family, but some examples include:
- Have a weighted blanket handy
- Keep dark sunglasses or earplugs in an emergency bag
- Have a plan for how to leave a situation once it becomes too much
- Plan to shop or visit busy holiday areas during slow times
- Have an aromatherapy lotion with you
- Have squeeze or stress balls on hand
- Have a music player and headphones with your child’s favorite stim music handy
It can be incredibly helpful to have an ‘I need help’ sign, whether that be a word or an actual sign, knowing how your child is feeling can help an overwhelming situation avoid becoming a meltdown.
Be Ready for Extra-Social Situations
Sometimes it isn’t the sensory overload that brings about a meltdown, but the social stressors and pressures.
Depending on your child’s unique triggers, some social situations might be too much for them. This can be helped in similar ways as above – as first and foremost you need to know when your child is becoming too anxious.
Know the signs, either verbal, behavioral, or an agreed-upon signal, and stick to it.
If certain social situations are within your child’s comfort level, then consider ways to help them remain calm and in control by writing social scrips that you can practice with your child.
Additionally, here are some more tips:
- Outline social expectations and discuss them
- Agree on tasks your child can do or be in control of
- Write out some realities of the holidays
- Make sure your child knows they are not trapped
- Plan out anything your child is nervous about
Maintain Routines As Best You Can
Going hand-in-hand with the above tip, planning and organization can greatly help your child to be more at ease this holiday season.
Try to maintain routines so your little one can continue to have a stable foundation each day. If you are at a different family member’s home, then consider having the same nap or walk time. Maybe keep the same videos or sensory routines.
The holidays are hectic but mitigating that hectic energy and keeping routines in place can help your child handle the unavoidable changes better.
Be An Advocate This Season
It’s possible that many of your extended family members or friends will have questions or not fully understand your child’s diagnosis or situation.
Use this opportunity to teach – to talk about the strengths as well as the challenges that ASD brings.
Educate those around you and even share tips of how they can help. Every person who learns more about ASD can help us bring this condition into the light and help the world understand that each child is unique and has vast potential.
In addition, you may need to shield your child from some of the more difficult or overwhelming situations this holiday season. Think of yourself as an advocate – not only in knowledge – but in action as well.
Connect with ABC Pediatrics to Learn More About Autism Treatments, Therapies & Services
ABC Pediatrics wants your holidays to be merry and bright, and with the above tips, we hope your year-end can be just as rewarding as the rest has been.
If the New Year spells out New Treatments for your child and family, then consider the many services that ABC Pediatrics offers.
Call or get in touch with us today. We can’t wait to work with you.