Not everyone can feel nearly as good during the happiest season of the year because of the dazzling lights, crowded stores, parties, and holiday feasts. To ensure that everyone can participate in the celebrations, there are various ways you can make Holidays autism friendly for your child.
Why might Holidays be challenging for kids with autism?
Even though every child will have a unique experience, Holidays can be very stressful for children with autism. . Holidays can be a difficult time for children with autism because of sudden changes in their routine, sensory overload, and pressure to socialize.
To make Holidays joyful for your family, reconsider tradition and don't be scared to create your own rules.
In light of this, we have put together some advice that will help your kids enjoy this season more.
Communicate with your child:
It will help you plan for the entire season if you communicate to your child about changes before they happen and try to find out what concerns them.
Figuring out how your child may receive gifts is important. It's important to pay attention to their preferences, whether they enjoy unwrapped gifts or one present at a time.
Prepare in advance:
It may be simpler for you and your child if you prepare ahead of time for the Holiday season. It's important to plan ahead for the whole holiday season, not just one holiday. This might comprise:
Planning Holidays will be made easier by using visual aids like visual timetables.
planning for discrepancies in perception (For example, preparing for when ear defenders may be needed)
Ensure everyone is at ease by talking to family and friends about your child's needs.
Make sure your kids are aware of any visitors entering the home, especially if they are strangers.
Make a schedule:
For many children with autism, routines are essential because they give them structure and might help them feel less anxious. It might be useful to:
Try to keep your child's schedule as normal as you can.
Introduce Holidays festivities gradually, such as decorating the tree one day and turning on the lights the next.
Use visual timers to signify an activity's completion. Visual assistance Liquid Timers are included in our Get Sensory Packs.
Make a visual schedule that your child can see and go over it with them.
Adapt the decorations:
Decorating can be an important part of making it "feel like a Holiday," but a change in surroundings can set off sensory difficulties.
Plan appropriate decorations and where they will go to prevent upsetting your child.
Avoid hanging all of the decorations in one day because it might be daunting; instead, consider doing it gradually.
Make places without any Holidays decorations.
Pick the optimum lighting - flashing lights can irritate sensitive eyes, but you can also use lights with adjustable brightness levels.
Create a quiet space:
Your kids will benefit from having a peaceful area all year long, not just during the holidays. This area should be unadorned and a secure spot for your kids to retreat to if they are feeling overstimulated.
Consider your child’s food aversions:
Holiday meals don't put an end to autism. When preparing your Holidays meals, it's crucial to take your child's food allergies into account. Make a special meal for your kids instead of skipping Holiday meals altogether. It's acceptable to have pizza and chicken nuggets for the Holidays!
Halloween is a fun holiday for children, but it may present some difficulties for those who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD). You may reduce your stress by preparing ahead and getting organized. Here are some suggestions to make the holiday fun for you and your child, Whether this is your child’s first Halloween or not.
Using some images or drawings, create a narrative that will help your child understand what Halloween might be like. This will helps in preparing your kid for the day's events.
Before Halloween, try out several costumes. They may experience unneeded distress and lose enjoyment if the costume is uncomfortable or doesn't fit properly.
Don't force your child to wear their costume if they don't like it. Instead, discuss the circumstance with your child and attempt to understand why they don't like it. After you and your child have a conversation, they might eventually grow accustomed to the outfit. Have them wear it for short periods of time and at increasing intervals over time.
Think about a Halloween costume that your child can wear over their everyday attire, such as butterfly wings or a cape.
Recognize your child's capabilities, and only attempt what they can handle. If your child is uncomfortable trick-or-treating, for instance, you can start by visiting three homes. The following year, increase the number of dwellings after evaluating your child's progress.
Take your kid to an event in the area where they are already at comfort and know the people, like a school fair or a house party.
Partner with loved ones and acquaintances of your child.
Give your kids the opportunity to receive sweets if you are handing it out at home. Practice saying hello and handing out candy to individuals throughout the day.
Plan indoor or daylight Halloween activities if your child is afraid to go outside at night.
For many autistic children, Halloween can be overwhelming; the costume is frequently a source of sensory distress. Here's how to make the outfit for your child more sensory-friendly.
Tips for parents of children with tight eating habits and problematic mealtime behaviors
It’s common for kids on the autistic spectrum to have difficulty with eating. Because of this, encouraging children to eat a variety of healthful foods may be challenging. Additionally, it can lead to a lot of arguments over food.
Children with autism may struggle with a variety of food-related issues. They might favor items that have a certain mouthfeel, such as crunchy or soft foods. Children who only consume soft foods may have weak jaw muscles that find it difficult to chew harder foods. It can be difficult for kids to sit still and behave appropriately during mealtimes.
Start by deciding on one goal to help a child with autism become less picky about what they consume. Does it increase the number of foods your child will eat? How much do they consume? longer time spent at the table? It is important that everyone in the child's home and school is aware of the goal.
Next, take small steps and give your child compliments. Start with a tiny amount when trying new foods. Then give your kid a lot of compliments for taking a taste. Compliment them if the goal is to sit at the table for 10 minutes. Do not insist on another ten. Keep trying and being patient. Even if the situation improves slowly, it will.
Children on the spectrum struggle with change, so when their eating habits change, they may act out. Usually, temper tantrums can be reduced by ignoring them. Only take action if the child is acting dangerously.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Before we talk about what may work, it’s helpful to talk about what we know doesn’t work…
It's best to avoid attempting to "trickle" your kid into trying new foods (i.e., hiding vegetables in sauce). While this can or sometimes be effective, it can also backfire if your child notices the addition and later develops an increased suspicion toward all foods.
“Insisting” that your child eat only healthy foods.
Expecting your child to imitate other children.
WHAT MAY WORK?
Introduce new meals regularly to help your child develop familiarity with their smell, appearance, and texture.
To help your child become desensitized, offer new foods to them once or twice daily. Don't put any pressure on your youngster to try it or eat it; the key is to expose them to it repeatedly.
Choose foods that best suit your child's "sensory needs," such as raw carrots, celery, and apples if they enjoy crunchy foods. Alternately, experiment with novel items that are similar to your favorites, such as yogurt with a different flavor or a different brand of the same food (if your child enjoys yogurt).
For extreme cases, start with a more systematic approach. Children who will only eat one particular food from a particular restaurant and presented in a specific way. For such cases, start by having the child be accepting of variations of that same food.
Try extremely modest amounts of naturally occurring smooth or pureed meals (like applesauce). This is because swallowing is practically a given when your toddler eats a spoonful of pureed food. Gradually increase the biting size.
Premack Principle- Presenting a generous portion of a popular food contingent on the child eating a small amount of a new food. Systematically decreasing popular food amounts and increasing the portions of the new food.
Introduce various new foods not just one at a time. The goal is for the child to be flexible with a variety of foods and not to create rigidity by choosing only one food at a time.
Eliminate snacking in between meals and stick to a daily, consistent schedule of meals and snacks.
Kids regularly consume liquids in between meals, which reduces their likelihood of feeling hungry when it is time to eat. With regard to activity level and weather, you can think about restricting access to liquids (especially high-sugar, high-calorie liquids) in between meals and sticking to water to support hydration.
The Picky Eater's Favorites
Nuggets, Taquitos and other Breaded, Fried foods Potato Chips, French Fries, Tater Tots Pizza (Plain, maybe Meat Sauce) Macaroni and Cheese Grilled Cheese Peanut Butter (Jelly maybe) Hamburgers (plain and without cheese) Hot Dogs (plain)Candy, Cookies, Cake (a few kinds)
A Team Approach
It is important to recognize that eating issues may be a result of different challenges that the child is experiencing. Such challenges can be not only behavioral, but may be a result of sensory issues or challenges with chewing and swallowing. Essential Speech and ABA Therapy utilizes such an approach by having our BCBAs. Occupational and Speech Therapists work together to determine the issues and how to best assist the child.