Holidays offer an opportunity to teach traditions that include giving and receiving, family celebrations, and decorations.
Most families have favorite decorations that are used year after year. Again, for many children with special needs this is a situation of visual importance. Your child may not understand the reason behind the traditions, but she will most likely notice if the usual door decoration is missing or hung in a different location.
Many kids on the autism spectrum are overly interested in decorations of a certain color or type. Trains are often in this category. Children with autism also love dangling decorations. Include some of these favorite decorations that your child can enjoy year after year.
Preserve the tradition by keeping most of the decorations the same. Include your child in displaying the decorations. Introduce one or a few new decorations as a ritual for every year. Then the change (adding new decorations) becomes a part of the tradition.
Follow the tips for birthday gifts when shopping for your child for the holidays. Let your child help in shopping and giving to others. When preparing gifts to give, have your child add a gift tag or bow. Let her put the gift in its place until the gift exchange begins.
Traditions Away from Home
Holiday seasons can be packed with activities, parties, programs, and shopping. Consider the following questions before committing to another event:
Is this a good time of day for my child?
Are we enjoying a balance of at-home and away-from-home activities?
Would a different activity be better suited to my family?
Should I make arrangements for child care while I attend this?
Remember that you and your child do not have to attend every holiday event. Choosing carefully will make the season more enjoyable and meaningful for the entire family.
In general, keep the holidays simple. The more complicated the plans, the less likely it will be a perfect holiday. Focus your expectations on time with those you love.