The holidays are often a time of relaxation, long summer days spent at the beach, festivities and getting together with family and friends. However, for a person on the autism spectrum the holiday season can sometimes be overstimulating, overwhelming and overwrought.
What are some ways we can assist a person on the spectrum during the holidays?
- Keep a structure and routine
Schedules and routines bring consistency and predictability for an autistic person. Make sure to pre-plan before an event or party, use calendars or social stories to explain what is happening and when. Where possible, invite an autistic person to visit the venue in advance when it’s quiet to familiarise themselves with the new surroundings.
- Consider the changes in socialisation and sensory experiences
Sights, sounds and smells can be overwhelming sometimes for a person on the autism spectrum. Going to parties or shopping centres could be overwhelming. Some shopping centres are now providing sensory free shopping, so it may be worthwhile checking with the retailer or centre management about special times.
- Develop shared expectations that are realistic and achievable
Have a conversation where the family can discuss their anticipations, worries or wishes. Perhaps decide to make your own family traditions, but set expectations that are achievable and realistic.
Becoming more aware of the different and diverse ways each of us engages with our world, and by making a few small simple changes, we can all help to create a far more inclusive and enjoyable environment. Focus on a person’s ability, interests and their unique perspective, so everyone feels welcome. Accept everyone for who they are.
Want to know more? View our Engagement Officer's video
Thomas Kuzma, Engagement Officer at Aspect shares his thoughts for families with children on the autism spectrum, while including humorous stories about his own past experiences, we all can relate to.