It’s that time of year when the days have grown darker (though not necessarily shorter since many ASD kids have sleep issues that get worse this time of year), the trees more colorful and the stresses of the cornucopia of holiday traditions and events rearing their little heads.
Thanksgiving for a child on the spectrum is a challenge. This also makes it a challenge for the family so you would benefit from a little solace knowing this is what to expect, and a little preparation can help ease the anxiety you may all feel.
The best tips to survive are the following.
· It’s an attack on your senses between the people and the smells, and on the typical schedule so anxiety will be higher, know this going in.
(If you aren’t aware of Sensory/Anxiety issues you can click there to read more about it)
· Plan in advance the menu for the big day if cooking
· Shopping list, buy non-perishables within your normal shopping to make it easier and not hurt your budget. Maybe just adding a can of something each week.
· Guests, decide on the maximum you can handle both to be able to feed and what your child can tolerate. Let them know what to expect if you can’t do a traditional sit down meal.
· A sensory escape plan, a room or area for your child (or you to go)
· As sensory diet. Have all the tools needed on standby, bubbles, weighted blankets, putty or other tactile substances, lavender scents, plenty of pillows and an area for your child to bounce themselves if needed.
The additional visitors, crowds and merriment will provide challenges, struggles and even pain. But it also provides all the opposites, fun, memories and successes over those challenges and struggles. Some positive focus can be on taking time to really evaluate how far your ASD child has come in the year. Perhaps they learned a new skill, or improved their communication, maybe they made a new friend or their meltdowns are decreasing. Maybe this year was the first time they made more regular eye contact or even gave an unprompted hug. This year Noah has been having less meltdowns, and stress overall, he also had a this great moment as captured in the photo of this article. He jumped in front of my camera (something he doesnt do) and the soda in his cup bounced up and out of the cup, this would normally send him realing out of control into meltdownland…but that day, he laughed. He laughed and I got it on camera…so whatever the success, it is something to be thankful.
For more reading:
The food, it’s new, it’s scary and damn there are a lot of smells.
Traveling and sleep issues