One challenge every family faces is the normal interaction and activities of social events and occasions. The following is not a complete list, of course, as every family is unique and has its own special activities. But many of these events are common to most families and can be problematic for a child with autism:
Participation in these events can be stressful for the entire family when a child with autism is having behavioral issues. And anticipation of these events can be equally stressful, making matters worse. Fun events become dreaded, and important gatherings are often missed.
If at all possible, continue attending family events. For both the immediate family and the farther-flung relatives, interacting with the child with autism at these events will help them feel involved and ultimately more comfortable with the situation.
If a family member has passed away, particularly one who was close to your child, alert your child's teacher and therapists. Your child may exhibit behaviors that will surprise everyone if they are not aware of the situation. Children with autism may not directly express their grief, but it is present.
A death in the family can present unique concerns. Because concepts are difficult to understand for people with autism, and death is a difficult concept for anyone to understand, your child with autism may be troubled by a funeral. Acting-out behaviors are common in these situations. Children with Asperger's or high-functioning autism may have a grasp of the situation, and in that case, parents should follow their instincts. Funerals are often disturbing even to children who do not have autism so leaving all the younger ones with a baby sitter may be the best idea.
Having autism in the family may change your interactions with your extended family, but if you plan ahead and prepare, those changes can be positive for everyone involved.