Here are 10 tips to support individuals on the autism spectrum to experience a more autism-friendly Christmas....
Selective Decorations and Lights: Christmas decorations and lights, while festive, can sometimes overwhelm individuals with autism. Consider confining these elements to a specific area or room in the house to help manage sensory input.
Use of Visual Aids: Visual aids can effectively illustrate upcoming changes to routines or schedules during the holiday season. They offer a tangible and visual way to prepare for transitions and new activities.
Maintain Regular Routines: Endeavor to keep regular routines for meals, baths, and bedtime intact. If changes are unavoidable, discuss these shifts in advance to help prepare for the transition.
Scheduled Visitors: Organize visits from friends and family, and display a clear schedule in a visible area, like the refrigerator. This can help to manage expectations and prepare for social interactions.
Transparent Gift Wrapping: If the mystery of wrapped presents causes discomfort, consider using clear wrapping materials like cellophane, or attach a picture of the gift's contents on the outside using plain wrapping paper.
Preparation and Anticipation: Surprises or sudden changes can be challenging for some autistic people. Early discussion about the upcoming changes and events can help to ease anxiety and build anticipation.
Christmas-free Zones: Designate quiet areas or moments away from the holiday frenzy to help reduce anxiety. This could be a quiet room or engaging in a calming, routine activity, like a walk in the park.
Food Familiarity: Holiday meals often introduce a variety of new dishes. Alongside these, ensure familiar and preferred foods are available to help make meal times less stressful.
Noise Control: Loud music or sounds are common during Christmas celebrations. Provide noise-cancelling headphones or designate a quiet space to retreat to when things get too noisy.
Practice Patience: Christmas can be overwhelming for anyone, but particularly for individuals on the autism spectrum. Ensure to practice patience, understanding, and offer reassurances when necessary. Remember, everyone experiences the holidays in their own unique way.
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