It is a joyous time of year, but all of the lights, laughter, strange foods, and loud music can sometimes be a bit too much for your autistic teen.
The time for holiday gatherings has come! It is a joyous time of year, but all of the lights, laughter, strange foods, and loud music can sometimes be a bit too much for your autistic teen. As with any other new situation you present your child with, preparation is key. Make sure you and your teen are well prepared for the holidays with these helpful tips!
Stories of Past Holiday Gatherings
One of the best way to prepare your teen for the upcoming holiday gatherings is to tell lots and lots of stories of past gatherings. Show them as many pictures as you can. Tell them stories of all the fun times, and things you saw, smelled, and tasted. The more they know what to expect, the smoother things will go.
Review Coping Skills
Holiday gatherings can be stressful for everyone, but sometimes even more so for individuals with autism. Help your child to learn and remember when it is time to take a step back. No one knows what your child is feeling better than they do, so teaching your teen this advanced coping skill will help to make sure they stay happy throughout the gathering.
Avoid Sensory Overload
If your teen is triggered by too much noise, consider bringing along some earbuds for them. If the idea of getting “dressed up” seems to intimidate or confuse your child, just dress them in more familiar clothing. You could also try picking out a special outfit in advance with your child, to help them look forward to the occasion. If there are certain foods that your teen has an aversion to, pack a container of something familiar that they can have instead.
Preparing for Meal Time
If your teen is not accustomed to having sit-down meals with a large group of people, take the time to help them prepare. Make sure they know the behavior that is expected of them. Let them know that they are not at the “kid’s table” anymore, that they are growing up and that you expect more from them.
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