The holiday season often brings wonderful memories of joyful times with family and friends. However, for some people with special needs – such as those on the autism spectrum – the holidays can actually bring feelings of stress and discomfort. And who can blame them? Changes in routine, different demands, new foods, sounds, textures — it is all a challenge! Below are some tips to help create a positive holiday celebration for everyone in the family.
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
- Try to keep to the usual routine as much as possible. That will keep everyone calmer.
- Holidays can bring sensory over-stimulations with lights, sounds, smells, and even relatives who want to give hugs. Eliminating or minimizing these stimulations are your best bet. Plus, you may want to talk to your family about how to greet your child or your relative when they arrive.
- And while you are at it, talk to relatives about the best way to behave with your child’s unique sensitivity and needs.
- Instead of limiting the holiday decorations, some families wait until Christmas Eve to put up their tree and decorate. It keeps the stress down and also builds up some fun anticipation of Christmas Eve. You can spend the month preparing for this big day.
- Or, some families let everyone participate in the decorating. The decorations may end up in a line or stacked rather than in the traditional way, but so what. Let them enjoy the activity in their own way.
- Generally, people with special needs do better in the morning when they are less tired, rather than the late afternoon or evening. It may be better to schedule Christmas events at these times.
- And finally, realize that you are probably not going to have perfect food, perfect decorations and perfect gifts. Your holidays may not be celebrated the traditional way, but it can still have real meaning.