“The Joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing each other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays.” – W. C. Jones.
Holidays and festivals are the time of joy, warmth, love, and celebrations. It is a time for everyone to come together and express gratitude for all our blessings. In order to make the holidays as less stressful for children with autism, their families, and their wider network we have put together some suggestions on how to create a Sensory-Friendly Holiday for Kids with Autism.
Here are some ways to celebrate a Sensory-Friendly Holiday for Kids with Autism:
Gifts - Opening gifts in the presence of others can be overwhelming for some children, especially if many gifts and other children are involved. The gifts inside the wrapping paper and bows can also pose a challenge with the reaction also being unpredictable. Thus, it is best to take the others into confidence and explain the entire scenario in advance to pre-empt any incidents. Take the stress away by unwrapping one gift at a time and spacing them out if many are intended for the child. Alternatively, you can take the gifts home and open them at leisure in the comfort & security of your homes. This can be followed up with a “thank you” phone call or card to the gift-giver(s) as a sign of your heart-felt appreciation.
Winter conditions – Children may not take kindly to winter months and the cold weather conditions. They may not take kindly to warm clothing, the feel of the fabrics, and even the layers. Temperature change and regulation may be a challenge. On the other hand, the child may like to dart out and play in adverse/snowy conditions without being adequately protected by winter clothing. To deal with unfavorable winter conditions, sit them down and explain patiently about winter, and warm clothing. You can use stories or visual cards to explain the same if need be. Let them choose winter warm accessories of their choice. Motivate and let them practice wearing accessories such as coats, hats, mufflers, gloves, and boots.
Interacting with loved ones - Prepare the family members or guests with appropriate strategies to minimize anxiety in the child or prevent behavioral incidents. For example, you could tell them that the child does not like to be hugged or approached in a particular way. Education is the key to ensuring smooth holidays for all concerned.
With the above suggestions borne in mind, holidays will be a joyous time with minimal disruptions and unwanted scenarios playing out. Holidays and festivals are for all to revel in especially children. Provide them with the best time of their lives and beautiful memories.