From last-minute shopping trips to holiday parties and family gatherings, the holiday season is often a stressful time for parents. But for children with autism spectrum disorder who rely on structure and routine, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be extremely unsettling, according to experts from Bradley Hospital.
This is particularly true for children who also have sensory processing issues and may be overwhelmed by the overabundance of lights, sights, sounds and smells during the holidays. This distress can often impact the entire family.
Maintaining the current structure and routine for your child may not always be possible during the holidays, but there are ways to help reduce your child's anxiety while increasing your family's enjoyment of the holiday season, say experts from the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Bradley Hospital.
The key to preparing for the inevitable changes that come with the holidays is to provide your child with early cues of what will be taking place. For some, this might require depicting with words or pictures exactly what will and will not occur at each event.
The following tips can make the holidays more fun for everyone involved:
We often put pressure on ourselves to make the holidays perfect, which is unrealistic. In the end, the most important thing to remember is that the holidays are a time to cherish one another and the joy of being together. Whether it's scaling back or starting new traditions, celebrate in a way that makes the most sense for your family and is something that you, your child and the entire family will all enjoy.
For more information about Bradley Hospital's Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, please visit: http://www.lifespan.org/bradley/services/ddp/default.htm