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Happy Holidays for Autism

‘Tis the season to be merry! We all love to see children engaged and happy during this special time of year. The truth is the holiday season can be a difficult time for many, especially those families with loved ones with autism spectrum disorder. Traveling, parties, meals, and just about anything can quickly turn things south if there is an inability to cope with all the changes.

One benefit of having a worry-free holiday is that families will truly be able to rest and enjoy the present moment. Isn’t this what the holiday season is all about? Everyone relaxed and having a great time.

When someone isn’t having a good time, it may bring the entire family down. Those memories in the making just don’t seem as sweet. Instead of enjoying time spent with family and/or friends, you may want to pack up and go back to the comfort of your own home. But this is been your story for too long. It’s time for that to change.

Here are 3 mindful tips to help your ASD loved one(s) through the holiday season.

1. Don’t force your child to do anything. Yes, this includes hugging, kissing, cheek-squeezing, etc. The holiday season is already stressful enough. Don’t make it more stressful by forcing your child to do things s/he may not be naturally inclined to do (see my previous article about avoiding tantrums in public). Allow your child to create bonds with family members and friends in their own unique way.

2. Play as much music as possible! Music is very therapeutic. If your child is a music buff, keep the music going as it has been shown to promote relaxation and improve social communication.

3. Get your child involved in holiday activities. Baking cookies, decorating, hanging lights or stockings, gift wrapping, etc. are all great ways to keep them busy but also appropriately engaged.

If you are looking for more holiday adventures, find a Sensory-Friendly Santa in your area. Allow your child to experience the joy of the holiday season in a way that resonates with them!

Dr. Shyron Alston

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