Autism: preparing for the festive season

Published: 06 October 2023

For many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, the holiday season can be particularly stressful. Faced with the usual questions generated by this period, finding the right gifts, the meal that will please everyone as well as decorating the house, are added concerns related to the autism spectrum disorder of their child, how will he live the holidays? How will he react to the change in routine? What will this period be like for him? How will the family react? Find out how to make the most of this period 👇

A watchword: anticipation

Year after year, Christmases come and go… However, it is possible to prepare your child in advance so that he or she can spend the holidays more serenely.

As seen previously in our article

I prepare Christmas with my Amikeo tablet

you can create a diary with your child to explain how the day will unfold, using pictograms and photos of places (especially if family visits are planned…).

Will your child see family members he or she isn’t used to seeing? Don’t hesitate to show him photos so that he can recognize them more easily by telling him a little about them. Once he’s face to face with them, show him the photo again so that he can make the connection.

Involve your child as much as possible in the preparations: he or she can help you set up the decorations, choose gifts, choose the meal… And even help you make the meal!

Show them photos of previous Christmases and share fond memories of the day, play games with them: ask them to show you the gifts they received at the previous Christmas, print out photos of your family and have them show you who was there last year and who will be there this year, and so on.

A Christmas to suit you

Every family is different, and every family has a different Christmas! Adapt your New Year’s Eve celebration to your family, and therefore to your child. Uncle doesn’t like oysters and we’ve always provided different seafood for him, Grandma has a bad back and has an adapted chair, your cousin has just had a baby and a room has been set aside for him to sleep in, every family adapts to the particularities and tastes of each one, and your child deserves the same attention without feeling guilty.

If New Year’s Eve isn’t at your place, your family could set aside a space just for him. You could bring along all the things that contribute to his well-being (cuddly toy, lamp, sensory balls, etc.) so that he can isolate himself if he feels the need.

If your child reacts badly to the unexpected and surprises, it may be important to choose gifts with him or her, so that he or she knows in advance what he or she will receive. Making a precise list can also guide family members who sometimes mean well, but end up with the wrong gifts. Knowing in advance what your child will receive under the tree could relieve some extra stress.

In addition, don’t hesitate to tell your family about any special features they may not have thought of… For example, if they can’t stand the texture of gift paper or certain colors… So that their gift can be put in a bag with a label bearing their first name, or even placed under the tree with nothing around it.

Don't forget to enjoy!

The perfect Christmas doesn’t exist, except in magazines, on TV or on Netflix! There will probably be unforeseen events, perhaps a few crises, or even arguments, but remember that this is the case in most other families too!

The important thing is that everyone leaves with a dose of good memories to look back on throughout the year until next Christmas.

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