A child with autism thrives on routine - the one thing that is thrown out of the window come Christmas - so it can be tricky ensuring everyone has a fun and happy time at this time of the year.
Coupled with the fact that your son or daughter is likely to meet unfamiliar people, go to different places and try lots of new things, it’s important you are prepared.
If you are heading visiting this Christmas, bear the following five tips in mind:
1. Leave before the meltdown
Make sure you leave well before your child becomes tired or overwhelmed. Only you will be able to tell when that time is and sometimes it can just be trial and error so don’t judge yourself if you are caught out – it can be difficult to leave a party early, we know.
2. Bring your child’s favourite food
Don’t worry about insulting hosts by bringing your child’s favourite food. Children with ASD can be particular about textures and tastes so bring plenty of goodies that you know they like. The last thing you want is for your child to become stressed out over the food.
3. Pack an emergency bag
Make sure you have an emergency bag ready to bring along with your every time you leave the house. Pop in stress balls, your child’s favourite toy, headphones and a device with music – these will help calm them down when they become overwhelmed.
4. Try to find a quiet place for your child
As soon as you enter a new house or place try to find a quiet corner where your child can go to if they become over-stimulated or excited. Talk to the host of the house before you head there so you can be prepared if something goes wrong.
5. Don’t overwhelm them with gifts
While Christmas is the time of giving, try not to overwhelm your child with too many gifts – talk to friends and family as well beforehand. If possible, stagger them over a period of time instead – they will appreciate it a lot more and become less stressed by it.