Yes autism and Christmas. Now this is a time most children look forward to all year and parents do too. Autistic children often find this to be the hardest possible time of year. Routines and stability go out the window, the house is alive with all sorts of people and things are not the way they should be.
As any parent or caregiver of an autistic child knows, things go really bad when routines go out the window. Simple changes can be the hardest thing in the world for autistic children to cope with so all the changes that come with Christmas complicate their worlds even worse.
Decorations go up, trees, lights, everything becomes so overwhelming.
So how can you make this holiday season a little happier for your child?
Begin by remembering change is hard for them. Do things a little at a time, don't pack all the holiday stuff into just a couple of days, that leave them stressed and worn out (not to mention yourselves from coping with meltdowns.)
Give them warning, take it a step at a time so as not to overwhelm them. Giving them some advanced notice and showing them pictures of last years Christmas can help with the adjustment.
Be prepared for the coming meltdowns. Remember this is more difficult on them then you, so it is important that you give them more time, more patience, whatever it is they need to come through the holidays.
Let yourself say no. Yes it is the holidays and everyone wants to celebrate and have parties and lots of family around, but remember it is okay to say no to invites if for nothing more than your child's sanity and emotional well being.
And then comes Christmas day itself, be prepared for the meltdowns. Allow them the time they need to themselves. Let them open presents on their own timeline. If they can only handle one an hour then so be it. Wouldn't you rather give them the gift of love and care for their emotional well being than making sure all presents are opened right away in the rush of the morning?
Don't forget their needs this holiday season. Being a parent to a special needs child can be difficult, but being that special needs child is even more difficult.