Enjoying the Holidays: Some Guidelines for Parents of Children With ASDs

The holidays are a special time of year, marked by jubilation, family, and the chaos of shopping, decorating, and traveling.  For the parents of children with autism, the holidays need not be less enjoyable by any stretch of the imagination.  Below are some tips to help make the most of this holiday season.

Dr. Lee Wilkinson of www.bestpracticeautism.com has quite a few useful recommendations for ASD households.  He suggests that you decorate in gradual stages, introducing the different decorations after your child has had time to adjust to the changes in the environment.  If possible, allow your child to help hang the decorations.  Dr. Wilkinson also warns that flashing lights or musical decorations can disturb some children.  When you are out shopping or perhaps enjoying the seasonal drive to look at your neighbors’ lights, gauge your child’s reactions.  This information may help you in choosing your own household decorations.

Speaking of going shopping, Dr. Wilkinson makes an excellent point when he says to avoid last minute holiday shopping with your child, if you can.  Your child may have well-established routines that might be ruined by such a hectic outing.  The holidays are already chaotic enough, aren’t they?  If you must take your child shopping, Dr. Wilkinson suggests allowing time for your child to adapt to the shopping environment.  The holidays tend to bring out bright lights, loud noises, and lots of moving people.  Once your child has had time to get used to the holiday shopping environment.  As always, provide positive behavior support for socially acceptable behaviors.

Meetings with the family to make such behavioral support a team effort may help.  Minimizing disruptions for the child and determining rewards for positive behavior when the inevitable disruption occurs should be part of the agenda.  If you are going to have visitors staying with you this season, make sure they understand your child’s condition and how they can be a part of this wonderful holiday experience.

When it comes to gift giving, Dr. Wilkinson suggests that we help our children learn that wrapped gifts are to be opened when the family has gathered.  He recommends presenting the child with a wrapped gift and rewarding him or her for not opening it.

For more of Dr. Wilkinson’s insightful article, visit http://www.examiner.com/article/autism-and-the-holidays-reducing-stress-for-families

What about buying gifts for your child?  While toys and entertainment devices may seem like a natural choice this season, consider this: Autism treatments afford parents the opportunity to be deeply involved with their child’s educational attainment, both during treatment sessions and otherwise.  Why not use the holiday season to build upon your child’s growing love of learning?  www.nationalautismresources.com has several gift options for your child.  Games, toys, and puzzles that are both fun and educational can provide enjoyment and learning at home.

Of course, if you have any questions about managing this holiday season or wonderful gift ideas, you can contact Reaching Milestones with BCS at 904-579-3280.  Happy holidays from all of us at Reaching Milestones with BCS!!!