It’s the holiday season and many of us are gearing up for big celebrations! As parents and caregivers of children with Autism know, while the holidays are fun and joyous, the big change in routine can be anything but. With the extra time off school, traditional holiday foods, presents and gifts, and possibly even travel, the likelihood of a mid-holiday meltdown can increase.
As you’re making plans to celebrate, consider doing a little prep work. At Innovative Behavior Options, we want to help! Here are five tips for a smooth holiday celebration with your child with special needs.
Make a Plan
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: When it comes to out of the ordinary events for children with special needs, a little planning goes a long way. As a parent or caregiver, think through potential behavior triggers, and come up with solutions beforehand. For example, if you’re planning to give gifts that require assembly, build them ahead of time. If presents need batteries, try to have them on hand.
Knowing what to expect ahead of time is more comfortable for children and adults alike! Talk through expectations before and on the day of the event. Consider discussing things like how long your child is expected to sit at the table, when he or she can get up on Christmas morning, or what time will you light the Menorah and celebrate. A visual schedule may help your child better understand time-related expectations.
Add Favorite Foods
Many holidays include traditional foods that we don’t eat every day. If your child has strong preferences around food, consider including some tried and true favorites. Big holiday meals aren’t the best time to introduce kids to new or different foods.
Spread Out the Present Opening
Some holidays naturally lend themselves to this, while others don’t. While it may seem like fun for a child to tear into presents, opening gift after gift can lead to overwhelm and trigger meltdowns. If possible, keep numbers small or spread gift giving out over a couple days so it feels manageable.
Allow Time to Play!
The holiday season is busy! We frequently have visits and plans and places to be. Be sure to schedule down time for your child so he or she can run off extra energy and enjoy their new toys and gifts at their own speed.
From Innovative Behavior Options, we want to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season! If you’d like to learn more about ABA therapy and how it can help you or your child with Autism or special needs increase independence and thrive, give us a call at 770-250-0093 or check out our website.