The Thanksgiving holiday is a time for family, friends, and feasts. For parents of children with autism, it can also present unique challenges, especially when it comes to larger gatherings. At Leap Autism Therapy, we understand the importance of making the holiday season enjoyable for everyone. Here are some tips to help parents ensure their child with autism feels comfortable around a larger group of people during Thanksgiving:
Prepare and Communicate:
Before the big day, talk to your child about what to expect. Share details about the event, the people who will be there, and any potential changes to their routine. Having a visual schedule or social story can be incredibly helpful in setting expectations.
Create a Safe Space:
Identify a quiet and comfortable space where your child can retreat if they need a break. Fill it with familiar items like their favorite toys or a cozy blanket. This gives them a refuge when the holiday hustle and bustle become overwhelming.
Bring Comfort Items:
Pack a bag with your child's favorite snacks, toys, or comfort items. Having familiar items on hand can provide a sense of security and help your child feel more at ease in unfamiliar surroundings.
Establish a Routine:
Stick to your child's regular routine as much as possible. Maintaining a sense of predictability can be reassuring and help reduce anxiety.
Share Information with Others:
Communicate with friends and family members about your child's needs and sensitivities. Let them know how they can support your child's comfort and create a more inclusive environment.
Use Visual Supports:
Visual aids, such as schedules or social stories, can help your child understand the flow of the day and navigate social interactions more comfortably.
Encourage Social Interactions at Their Pace:
While family gatherings may involve socializing, respect your child's pace. Encourage interactions gradually, allowing them to initiate and participate at their comfort level.
Remember, every child is unique, so feel free to tailor these tips to fit your child's specific needs. Wishing you and the families at Leap Autism Therapy a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving celebration!