Tips for navigating New Year's Eve with your child with special needs

Tips for Navigating New Year’s Eve with a Child with Autism

Dec 15, 2019

As an adult, New Year’s Eve is fun and full of promise for a new year and a new start. For many younger kids, it’s an exciting opportunity to stay up late, drink sparkling cider, and maybe even see some fireworks. If you have a child with autism, though, you know that New Year’s Eve instead can throw off routines and even bring overwhelm.

Innovative Behavior Options is here to help! We want New Year’s Eve to be a fun celebration for everyone, so our team has put together a few tips to make the holiday enjoyable for all – even your child with special needs.

Enjoy a Sensory-Friendly Night In

You know your child’s preferences (and limits). New Year’s Eve tends to be a busy night out, especially at restaurants. If you think the extra crowds and wait-time might be a little too much, consider planning a fun night in.

One of our favorite ways to make an evening at home special: movie night! You can pop popcorn, include everyone’s favorite snacks, and you can even control the movie volume yourself. Curling up with a blanket (a weighted blanket, even, if you’d like) and a special toy is a great way to include the whole family while still meeting everyone’s needs.

If a movie night just doesn’t quite feel special enough, you can also make your own balloon drop! The bright colors and extra excitement are a perfect sensory-friendly way to celebrate.

Plan your Ball Drop

Of course, even if you stay in, a midnight celebration may not be a good fit for your child. One alternative is to celebrate on a different time zone instead of staying up late. If you want to celebrate earlier in the day, you can join Perth, Australia and the large population in China around 11am EST. If early evening is a better fit, you can celebrate with London, England at 7pm EST.

If your kiddo really wants to go out, there are several events around town that offer early, kid-friendly celebrations, so you can enjoy a festive atmosphere without the routine-busting late night. Close to our Roswell, GA therapy center, Alpharetta is offering a kid-friendly balloon drop at noon on December 31st. There are several others across Metro Atlanta, too! Stone Mountain has a 9pm snow and fireworks celebration, and both Fernbank and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta are hosting kid-friendly early New Year’s Eve events.

Prepare your child for possible Fireworks

Fireworks are tough to avoid on New Year’s Eve. While most will likely go off at midnight, depending on where you live, there are likely to be a few earlier in the night, as well. As always, preparation is key!

Children with autism (all kids, really!) are more comfortable when they know what to expect. Talk with your child ahead of time, and let them know that they may hear a few fireworks at night. You can also consider using a sound machine to drown out some of the extra noise and perhaps have ear plugs or noise canceling headphones at the ready just in case. With any luck, your child will sleep right on through the extra noise. But just in case, we’d always rather be prepared.

Do you have a child who loves fireworks but is a little overwhelmed by the noise and crowds? Consider allowing your child to wear noise canceling headphones while watching the fireworks from a distance, away from big gatherings of people. He or she will get to enjoy the show without the sensory overload.

At Innovative Behavior Options, we’d like to wish everyone a very happy New Year! If increased independence and improved adaptive skills are part of your family’s new year’s resolutions, we’d love to talk with you more about ABA therapy and all the ways we help our clients achieve their goals. Our therapy center is located in Roswell, GA, and we offer in-home and at-school ABA therapy throughout the metro Atlanta area. Happy New Year, friends!





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