Tips to Help Your Child with Autism Cope this Holiday Season

How to Help Your Child with Autism Survive The Holiday Season
Posted on December 7, 2011 at 8:40 am
Originally Posted in "Patch Wheaton"

Well, here we go again! Another Holiday Season is upon us and many of our Special Needs Children are"freaking out"!

I mean that "literally", our children deal with the overestimation's in their word 24/7, now let's add a healthy dose of Holiday Cheer to"push them right over the edge"!

The lights, music, crowded stores and holiday gatherings are way too much for many of them.

Kaitlin is in"rare form" the entire month of December, and how can i blame her? But, it is putting me into overload as well,"yikes"!

Here are some tips that i have learned over the years that have helped, through trial and error of course. Maybe i can save at least one family from the meltdowns that are inevitable!

The Mall Santa, "really"?

Please don't push your child if they don't want to go. Do you have any idea what a horrible experience it is for our kids? First you drag them throughout the overcrowded mall, then you wait in line, and wait some more, and it's hot! Then they are forced to sit on the lap of a stranger who most likely smells bad to them and has a harsh loud voice. Remember, many of our kids are "hyper sensitive"!

Holiday Parties, a potential disaster!

Designate a person that you trust with your life, to be the food police! Many relatives have no idea about food sensitivities, allergies etc, much less the gluten/casein free diet that many of our children are on. I say, if anyone gives Kaitlin something she is not supposed to eat, then they must spend the next 48 hours on duty in my house!

Here is a link to the diet

It is imminent that someone, Grandma, Grandpa or Aunt Gertude, will be less than supportive of your efforts to help your child through dietary intervention. They may never say it to you, but, they think you are a "meanie"! When you are not looking they will slip your angel some food that will make them feel sick and horrible within a few hours, "shame on them"!

Designate a safe area for your child, a place they can go to escape the overestimation, make it clear that is is "off limits to everyone"!

Stand your ground with relatives that think they are therapists now, based on a few articles they read and want to try what they have learned on your child. Make it clear to them that "we are leaving it up to the professionals"!

Explain to everyone that we must keep the noise down,"inside voices please, ugh"!

It is a good idea to give your child a small snack before the arrival of your guests, that will help keep their mood stable and will help with them wanting to eat foods that are not allowed.

Another great idea, is to purchase a small toy that is fun for your child and give it to them just before the event, or as i sometimes do, hide a favorite toy a few weeks prior and bring it out that day.

I can't tell you how many times Kaitlin has been"sick and lethargic" after a Holiday party in the early years. I finally learned my lesson several years ago, and now i, stick to my guns! If they don't like it, then they can host the party next year!

If you are a guest, many of these tips still apply, although then you have to watch your child like a hawk even more so.

Most households are not set up to accommodate our kids, the danger of "escaping and wandering" is of the most concern, in addition to poisons, ingest-able small articles etc, being in ample access!

And last but not least, make sure to continue giving your child their supplements and/or biomedical treatments regardless of how busy and hectic things get! Their bodies depend on them and skipping even one day, will throw them off immensely, it's not fair to them.

The Holidays have a much different feel and meaning to me since i became a special needs parent.

So, we don't do things the same as families with neurotipical children do, does that really matter? Not to me, what matters to me is that my child is happy and healthy.

My family is starting to come around, since then, we have had the most "disfunctional family fun" we have ever had and have made awesome memories that will last a lifetime that we "laugh about" regularly!

Happy Holidays my fellow "warrior parents"!

***Send us your photos of your disfunctional family gatherings, we would love to post a follow up!:)

Lisa is the owner of Kaitlin's Hideout, a play center for children with autism and a social, support and resource place for parents.

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