5 Tips: Make this holiday season tolerable for your child with autism

As a new year dawns upon us, it is a time of gatherings with family and friends. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, there are quite a few reasons to celebrate. But social gatherings, lights, food and laughter may translate into sensory overwhelm for your young one on the autism spectrum. Here are five ways to make an event manageable for everyone:

  1. Crosscheck everything
    Make time ahead of the party to call up the host and understand what to expect. Inform them too about what sensory stimuli your child is sensitive to. From lights to music to hugs, it varies from one child to the next.
  2. Keep everything familiar
    Individuals with autism or on the spectrum are thrown off course by new experiences and surroundings. While a party is an occasion where people show up at their glamorous best, make it known to your host that you might be bringing your child in whatever he/she is comfortable wearing. The same applies to food. As you know what your child likes to eat on a daily basis or has a go-to comfort food, it helps to pack some for him/her to have at the party. If exchanging gifts, inform your host of the things your child likes or even wrap a present of his/her liking yourself to avert unpleasant surprises.
  3. Revise/rewind
    From exchanging greetings or gifts to sitting together with other guests at a table, go over the steps with your child several times. This reassures the child that it is something he/she can handle. Your aim should be to reduce causes for anxiety.
  4. Keep them company
    People often mean well but are a tad lost in certain circumstances. Communicate to your host early on that they need not offer food or set up a game without checking with you first. Offer to ease communication between them and your child by stepping in when necessary. Appreciate your host’s efforts and let your presence be a source of comfort to your child.
  5. Prepare for uncertainty
    Let your host know in advance that in the event of your child becoming upset or overwhelmed, it may be necessary for you to either take a break or leave the event.

Remember, your child comes first. Hope this sees you through the demands of the season! Happy holidays!

About Author
WhatsApp Image 2023-07-15 at 13.26.14
Bahij Khouzami

M.Ed., BCBA, IBA | Founder

Bahij Khouzami is an expert in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) specializing in Autism. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and an International Behavior Analyst (IBA), Bahij is also a Professional Advisory Board Member of IBAO.
With a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, specializing in Autism from Cambridge College in Massachusetts, USA, Bahij has provided ABA services for schools, homes and clinics across Massachusetts, USA.
Highly skilled, Bahij has worked with multidisciplinary teams in clinical, home, nursery and school settings during his career in the United States and now in Dubai.
A passionate teacher, Bahij trains therapists, educators and parents. Through AIS, Bahij remains committed to making a positive impact in the lives of individuals with Autism.

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