Christmas and related holidays are a wonderful time for children and their parents. It’s the kind of occasion that forms memories that stay with you for a lifetime. Christmas is more than a single day on the calendar, too. As soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are snug in the refrigerator, the Christmas season begins. Preparing for holidays like Christmas and New Year’s can be fun. All that concentrated activity can also tire you out. It can also be quite challenging for a child with autism.
Autism parenting often consists of planning ahead. Children on the autism spectrum crave predictability and routine more than their peers. Autistic children are often more attuned than others to changes in their auditory environment, too. Christmas is fun, but it’s usually the kind of loud, fast fun that can be disorienting to a child that notices more things in their environment than others.
All parents have to be careful not to overstimulate their children at Christmas to avoid a big crash after the fun. Autism parenting requires even more preparation. Here are 5 handy tips to make sure your child with autism has as much fun during the holiday season as possible.
Keep the Routine Running
Your routine at Christmastime is anything but routine. There are holiday parties to attend, presents to buy and wrap, decorations to display, and a million other details to keep in mind. It’s easy to get a little frazzled with all the commotion the season brings.
It’s smart to avoid passing the frazzle to your kids. Do everything you can to avoid disruptions in regular schedules. Your child will handle the commotion better if their bedtimes, mealtimes, and other daily details are pretty much the same as any other time of year.
Keep It Simple
Christmas seems to get more frantic and over the top with every passing year. There’s a spirit of one-upmanship that creeps into the season that pushes you to pull out the stops.
Resist the temptation to go wild for the holidays. There’s no reason you can’t have a fun and rewarding Christmas without lighting up your yard like a electric power plant. Christmas will be less stressful for everyone if you tone it down a little.
Keep the Uncles In Check
It’s an old tradition for extended family members to buy toys for kids that are as noisy and complicated as possible. If you’ve got a wild uncle that’s bound to show up with a toy that pumps up the volume, it’s a good idea to have a talk with them beforehand about the kind of toys your child prefers.
Decorating Is What You Make of It
Children love to decorate Christmas trees. In order to take the stress out of the activity for your autistic child, it’s better to let them decorate on their own terms. Children with autism are often big fans of putting things in rows, or stacking them, or arranging things in non-traditional ways.
It’s smart to just go with it. There’s no right or wrong way to decorate for a holiday like Christmas. If your tot wants to put 25 red balls on one branch, there’s no harm in it.
Play With Your Child On Their Own Terms
Play therapy is a great way to engage autistic children. Children will express themselves more freely when they’re having fun. If your child would rather sit in the box their toys came in, there’s no reason to make a fuss.
Avoid a big show when opening every box. Your children will have a better time if you let them decide what they’d like to play with, and how they’d like to play with it. No matter what, the best policy is to observe what they like, and do it right along with them.
If you’re like most people, your fondest memories of Christmas aren’t posed pictures that look like stock photos. Charlie Brown’s droopy Christmas tree is just as memorable as any other. Make your Christmas a perfect celebration for your family by avoiding any attempts at perfection.