Ultimate Guide for Holiday Situations for Children & Teenagers with Autism
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The Holiday season is quickly approaching and this can bring about excitement, but also new experiences for you and your child. They may cause your family more anxiety and stress with learning the new social situations. These new experiences could include the new holiday decorations inside and out, new foods to experience, family gatherings, and exchanging and receiving presents, just to name a few.
All of these new experiences can cause a lot of sensory overload and anxiety for some kids and we need to be mindful of that this holiday season. How can you tell when your child is experiencing sensory overload?
Pay attention to your child's behaviors. Are they covering their ears or closing their eyes? Are they running away from the situation or crying and melting down? These can be some signs that your child may be experiencing sensory overload.
Check out our FREE Ultimate Holiday Sensory Guide and download the guide below!
This guide provides your with fun holiday and winter sensory strategies to help your loved one have a great Holiday Season!
Provides information for these types sensory experiences:
- Proprioceptive Input
- Vestibular Input
- Visual Input
- Auditory Input
- Oral Motor Input
- Olfactory Input
- Tactile Input
- Calming Strategies
Strategies you can try to help you Survive the Holiday Season for Children and Teenagers with Autism or Sensory Processing Difficulties
- Avoid large crowds by shopping online or going at times during the day when the stores are less busy.
- When decorating your home inside and out, do this gradually to help your child adjust to the new decorations. See if there are ways they can help participate in this with you so they can be apart of the decoration process.
We found some Holiday LEGO sets that may be a great option for kids that love to do LEGO activities that they could put together and then you could all enjoy the Holiday masterpiece!
3. Help your child figure out calm down strategies when they start to feel overwhelmed. This could be finding a safe place in the house where they can calm down and relax. Are there certain toys/games your child enjoys that helps them calm down. My brother loves being able to retreat to his iPad or his computer when he is feeling overwhelmed. If you are at a family members or friends house see if they will allow your child to retreat to another room where it is quiet and they can regroup.
4. Make sure to give your child/teen breaks throughout the day/activity so they can recharge and adjust to the new setting and/or people.
5. Never feel like you have to go to events/activities that you know will be overwhelming for your child/teen. Do what you feel is best for YOUR child to have a great Holiday experience. Try to see the world through your child or teenager's eyes. If they aren't having a good experience, I am sure you are not either.
6. Help your child understand the new routine and if there may be any changes to the plan, so they can better prepare themselves for the new situation. If you need to, try to keep things in a familiar routine for your child especially with bedtime rituals to help them get enough sleep. I know if I don't get enough sleep, I am not able to be the best person the next day.
7. Prepare some quiet time activities to do together to help your child through some of the busy times of the Holiday Season. Check out these Christmas No Sew Quiet Books!
8. Help your child by talking through new situations so they can feel more prepared for the new situations they may encounter. Check out our Christmas Social Skills Situation and Problem Solving Cards!
9. Be proactive and understand that meltdowns will happen during this time and know that it is okay. Recognize the signs for your child to understand when they are starting to feel overwhelmed. Do they start to shut down and retreat, do they run away, do they scream, or do they cry? Try to understand what situations are really hard for your child and try to adapt them so that your child can participate, or it is okay to sit some activities out if it is just too much for your child.
Does your child struggle with the transitions between activities or do they have a hard time waiting their turn if you are opening presents?
- You could try playing games during the waiting times together. Do they like counting or letters? You could play an I spy game or a scavenger hunt.
- They could also be the one in charge or handing out the presents to everyone, so they have a specific job to complete.
- You could play a Christmas song they enjoy and let them know that when the song is over, then it will be their turn again to open presents.
- Maybe they need to open presents slowly and just open one up and then have the opportunity to play or interact with that present for awhile and then come back to opening more presents.
- You could try to play interactive physical games during times of waiting or during transitions. You could pretend to be a penguin and waddle around, or jump around like a reindeer.
- You can make colorful dots out of construction paper and make a colorful ornament obstacle course where they can only step on certain colors. You could play musical chairs with Christmas music.
- You can always try to use visual timers to help with wait times as well, so the child understands how much time they need to wait for.
- You could provide them with a tactile or fidget toy to play with during wait times.
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The Holiday's can be a stressful time of year for everyone, but especially for children with sensory concerns. We hope that these strategies can be helpful for your child and your family to help you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!
We would love to know if there are strategies that were helpful or if you would like to add more to the list as well! Let us know in the comments below!!
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