For many, the holiday season is a time of joy, but for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it may also present distressing disruptions to their routines. You can ease holiday stress for your child with autism by planning and practicing for all aspects of the holidays well in advance of each event.
Picture stories, picture schedules or other visual supports are great ways to let your child know what will be expected of him during out-of-routine events from air travel to gift-giving to holiday parties, and can help your child understand what’s ahead.
These strategies can also help de-stress the holidays for kids with autism:
Don’t forget to continue to support and reward positive behavior and adaptability during these times. Always let you child know how well he’s doing. And remember, you don’t have to accept every invitation or attend every event. If some aspect of the celebration is too distressing for you or your child, opt out. You can make adjustments to traditions and incorporate new ways to celebrate that will make the whole family happy.
Hear from another autism family about their experiences preparing for the holidays.
We recognize that every child is unique and that the content of this article may not work for everyone. This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. We hope these tips will serve as a jumping-off point for finding the best approach to helping a child with autism. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.