Supporting Children & Families During the Holiday Season
It is important to help children during this festive time to deal with the additional holiday stress, changes in routines, structure, and expectations. Here are considerations and supports to help families have an enjoyable experience and take part in the holiday season.
Whenever possible – PLAN AHEAD
- Social Stories for travel and special events
- Role Play – how to participate in an activity
- Photo albums of people they will see and encounter
- Talk about changes in schedule – school breaks – days off from work – not going to childcare
- Fewer decorations or putting out decorations one or two at a time helps a child handle the changing environment
- Take familiar items with you when you travel – toys – books - blankets
- Teaching new skills and family traditions
- Practice unwrapping presents – taking turns – waiting on others - fine motor skills for opening presents. Parents may want to take a toy completely out of the box and then wrap it to lessen the frustration in getting to the toy.
- Practice what you say opening a gift. Also practice what you might say if you get a gift you do not want - Some children need clear instruction of what NOT to say.
- Teach your child how to give a gift
- Teach family religious rituals
- Build vocabulary skill and understanding that coincides with family tradition
- Teach family members about autism and the supports your child needs. Help them understand sensory needs, hugs, calming activities, special diets, routines, and triggers to help minimize any behavioral incidents.
Dealing with difficult situations
- Read your child’s behaviors – Know when situations are escalating
- Be aware of noise and activity levels your child can tolerate. Sometimes arriving early and having others fill in around you is better than entering late and trying to work into a loud and crowded space.
- If a child becomes obsessed with requesting a gift a parent may have to be direct in communication. Set limits on the number of times or the amount of time they can talk about the item.
- Have a designated quiet or safe place they can go to calm even when visiting relatives
- Have a signal or a cue for them to communicate when they are starting to feel overwhelmed
Last of all – Take lots of pictures. This will help you teach the skills for next season and prepare your child for a joyous holiday.