For many of us, the holidays are a time of food, family, and fun. We look forward to festive light displays, travel, and a break from work and school. But the holiday season for children with autism can be a stressful break from routine – and traditions like decorating or wrapping presents can be sensory challenges. Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to help your child and entire family enjoy this holiday season.
Read More: Challenging Behavior During The Holidays
Identity Potential Triggers
There are many things your child might find challenging during the holiday season. From sensory overload triggers to changes in routine and travel, stressful moments are plentiful this time of year. But by identifying your child’s triggers in advance, you can develop a plan to address challenging behavior and make the holidays a more enjoyable time for your child.
The holiday season is full of potential sensory triggers for your child. From bright twinkle lights to loud carols to strange-feeling wrapping paper, the holidays are full of things that stimulate the senses. You can help your child by slowly incorporating decorations into your home, and by having a space at home that is free from bright holiday lights or decorations. If you’re visiting a family member’s home for the holidays, create an escape plan if your child feels overwhelmed by the sensory stimulation of their house. Find a quiet part of the home and make a safe, quiet space for your child, perhaps with a favorite toy or blanket that will help them feel secure.
Changes To Routine
Filled with parties, gatherings, and events, the holiday season is anything but routine. And that lack of familiarity can feel challenging to your child with autism. But you can help your child prepare for any changes to their routine. For example, if you’re having family over for a holiday dinner, review the day’s activities with your child in advance. Talk with them about what you’ll be doing that day, what you’ll be eating, who will be joining you, and any other changes to routine that you can think of. If your child understands the changes to their routine in advance, they may be more able to enjoy these special holiday events.
Travel can be a big part of your family’s holiday season. And whether you’re taking a road trip or headed to the airport, your travel plans might prove stressful to your child with autism. It’s helpful to prepare your child for your journey well in advance. For example, if you’re flying to grandma’s house, show your child pictures of the inside of an airplane or videos of an airport. This preparation can help your child feel more comfortable, and so can keeping them occupied with a favorite toy, game, or video. Finally, remember that your Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is available to support your child and family as you plan for your trip, and they can provide you with helpful tips personalized to your child’s needs.
Read More: Travel Tips For Kids With Autism
Stay As Consistent As Possible With ABA Therapy
Between travel, family gatherings, and time away from school, your routine may be all over the place – but we encourage you to keep up with therapy as much as possible. We offer a variety of options to make accessing therapy as easy as possible even during this busy time. If you won’t have time to attend center-based autism therapy, ask your therapy team about in-home or telehealth options. If part of your therapy team plans to take some time off over the holidays, create a plan to make sure your child can still receive treatment as consistently as possible.
Accessing Services During The Holiday Season
We’re dedicated to supporting your child through every stage in life – including the holiday season. We’ll continue to offer in-home autism therapy, ABA therapy at our centers, telehealth options, and community-based therapy throughout the holiday season. To get the most up-to-date schedule for your location’s holiday hours and closings, talk with your Trumpet therapy team.
Keeping The Holidays Fun
Above all, it’s important to remember that the holiday season can be a fun-filled time of togetherness for your family. And your child might even discover a new activity that they love, such as decorating cookies, or playing in the snow. By planning for change, staying flexible, and preparing your child for any changes, you can help make the holiday season a fun and enjoyable time for your entire family.
Looking for more support for your family during the holiday season? Contact us today!