1. Introduce adjustments and new schedules beforehand
We all know most children on the autism spectrum struggle with changes to their schedules and strongly react to ‘surprises’ in their routines. We recommend introducing any changes ahead of time.
Two really good ways to do this are:
- Stories: there are many to choose from and we encourage you to visit your local library but here are a couple we like:
- Visual Schedules: these are a proven evidence-based method for helping individuals on the spectrum understand ‘what’s going to happen next’ and reduce their anxiety related to schedule changes.
Here is a ‘get started’ on how to make visual schedules from the National Professional Development Center
2. Ask for Help, or a ‘Present’ for you
Please know that it’s okay to ask for help. Most families have a relative who would be happy to ‘lean in’ and help by caring for your child for an hour, an evening or even an overnight stay. It’s okay to say yes to this or to request this as a specific ‘present’.
Yes, your child may require a lot of additional support but you also need moments to recharge, get shopping done, and have some quiet time.
3. Create an escape plan
You don’t often hear about this but it’s good to ‘plan’ for when an event does not go well. The best solution is to have an ‘escape plan’ in place in case your child struggles with a particular event or even has a meltdown. You’ll want to identify whose role it is to ‘leave’ with the child. Frequently, this means bringing two vehicles to the event so one parent/caregiver can leave without disrupting the event for everyone.
Having a specific ‘emergency/crisis’ plan in place reduces everyone’s anxiety and can help make the holidays more relaxing and festive for everyone.
If you are a client of AnswersNow please feel free to reach out to your clinician with any questions or support you may need in implementing any of these suggestions. They are all experienced with these techniques and are happy to help you put them in place.
AnswersNow wishes you and yours a healthy and happy Holiday Season.