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  • Writer's pictureSarah Lewis, M.Ed., BCBA

Navigating the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and for families with children on the autism spectrum, this time of year may come with its own set of unique challenges. At the Autism Center of Sauk Valley, we understand the importance of providing support and guidance to parents navigating the holidays, especially when it comes to traveling and dealing with changing weather. Here are some tips and strategies to help make the upcoming festivities enjoyable for both you and your child:

Traveling with a child with autism

Plan Ahead for Travel: Traveling during the holidays can be a daunting prospect for any family, and even more so for those with a child on the autism spectrum. Planning ahead is key to a smoother journey. Consider creating a visual schedule or social story to help your child understand the upcoming trip. Pack familiar comfort items, headphones to minimize sensory input, and a travel-friendly sensory kit to help manage anxiety.

Helping a child with special needs with activities of daily living

Maintain Routines: The holiday season often brings a break from the usual routine, and while some change is inevitable, try to maintain a sense of familiarity when possible. If traveling, bring along your child's favorite snacks, toys, or other comfort items to provide a sense of security.

Sensory-friendly winter clothing

Prepare for Weather Changes: As the weather shifts, it's important to be prepared for changes in sensory experiences. Dress your child in layers to accommodate fluctuating temperatures, and be mindful of any sensory sensitivities related to clothing. If your child enjoys certain textures, consider bringing a favorite blanket or clothing item to provide comfort.

Calm down spot for dysregulation

Create a Quiet Space: Holiday gatherings can be overwhelming for individuals with autism, so having a designated quiet space can be a lifesaver. Identify a quiet room or corner where your child can retreat if they need a break from the festivities. Make sure to communicate this plan with family or friends hosting the event.

Autism moms connect

Communicate with Others: Open communication is essential. Share your child's needs and preferences with family members or hosts to ensure a supportive environment. Educate others about autism and encourage them to be patient and understanding. This can help create a more inclusive and enjoyable holiday experience for everyone.

As the holiday season unfolds, remember that each child with autism is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Flexibility, understanding, and a bit of preparation can go a long way in making the holidays a joyful and stress-free time for your family. At the Autism Center of Sauk Valley, we are here to support you every step of the way. Wishing you a happy and harmonious holiday season!

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