Holidays and family celebrations are a stress for many families for both parents and children. If you have a child with special needs these celebrations become a dreaded event that most parents would like to cross off their schedules or learn to celebrate differently. Most families like to keep ties with other family members and friends and this is usually done during family gatherings during the holidays or during family celebrations. What can parents do to help kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) be able to enjoy these family reunions and parties and in turn make it a successful celebration for all? How can you help your child with autism develop the social skills needed to interact with others at these social gatherings?
Ten Tips for Successful Celebrations
for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder
1. Simplify. Keep change to a minimum – reduce decorations, limit visitors, keep travel to a minimum.
2. Themes Outside the Box. Pick party ideas that truly fit your child – night at the museum, movie night at home, or an environment you might rule out due to noise and chaos sometimes is a great success (think Chuck-E Cheese).
3. Countdown the days. Use visual aides to show the day until the big event.
4. Photographic Memories. Take extra photos at holidays and birthdays with an eye toward using them the following year to remind your child of fun times and to prepare for changes. Photos can illustrate how the house looked when decorated for any holiday or how the room was rearranged for the Christmas tree.
5. Detailed Schedules. Create a special schedule, especially for the winter holidays. On a plain calendar use pictures and simple words to show the schedule for the season. Include when you’ll put up (and take down) the tree, outings, school events, concerts, church, cookie baking, making decorations, and plans for visitors or travel.
6. Prepare with Social Stories. To help your child with autism to be at ease with a new social situation, write a “Social Story” about the event. You can also role play in rehearsals to practice ahead of time what your child will probably experience during this new event.
7. Gift Giving & Receiving. Teach your child with autism how to give and receive a gift.
8. Gift Choices. Give gift suggestions to family members that you know will please your child.
9. Unwrapping Gifts: Ask that the gifts be easy to unwrap. The traditional ways of gift wrapping with tape, string, and lots of paper is often frustrating to open for a child with autism. Practice beforehand how to open gifts.
10. Be observant & Have a Retreat Plan. Watch for signs of distress that indicate your child has had enough and he needs a break. Know of a quiet spot or a room where you and your child can go to to be away from the hustle and bustle. If you need to do this already have in place a plan for the care of your other children when you are away. Confide in your friends and family members about your child’s needs so that they can understand and be helpful instead of critical.
Part of this post is taken with permission from www.autismdigest.com,