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How to Make the Holidays Special for Your Low-Functioning Child with Autism


Celebrating the holidays with a child who has autism, especially when they are low-functioning, can require some special consideration. Here's a guide that might help:

Embrace the Comfort of Routine

1. Stick to Familiar Traditions: Maintaining routines and familiar activities can provide comfort. Consider keeping familiar holiday traditions or introducing new ones gradually.

2. Visual Schedules: Use visual schedules, social stories, or calendars to help your child understand the holiday plans. This can reduce anxiety by offering a clear picture of what to expect.

Sensory-Friendly Celebrations

1. Sensory-Safe Space: Create a quiet and sensory-friendly space where your child can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. This area can serve as a sanctuary during gatherings.

2. Sensory-Friendly Decorations: Consider using soft lighting, noise-canceling headphones, or calming decorations to create a more soothing environment.

Communication and Socializing

1. Prepare Others: Educate family and friends about your child's needs. Encourage understanding and suggest ways to interact positively with your child.

2. Visual Aids for Communication: Visual supports like picture cards or communication boards can aid in communication, making interactions smoother.

Gift Giving and Activities

1. Thoughtful Gifts: Opt for gifts that align with your child's interests and sensory preferences. Consider items that promote sensory stimulation or relaxation.

2. Inclusive Activities: Choose inclusive activities that accommodate your child's needs. Activities like sensory-friendly crafting or quiet games can be enjoyable.

Self-Care for Parents

1. Seek Support: Reach out to support groups or online communities where you can share experiences and gain valuable insights from others facing similar situations.

2. Take Breaks: Remember to take breaks and prioritize self-care. It's crucial to recharge and maintain your well-being during the holiday season.

The holidays can be a joyous time for all, including children with autism. By embracing routines, creating sensory-friendly spaces, facilitating communication, and choosing inclusive activities, you can make this time of year special for your low-functioning child. Remember, a supportive environment and understanding from family and friends can make a world of difference.

For more tips and resources on supporting children with autism during the holidays, visit the LEAP website.

Happy Holiday!

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