The holiday season is right around the corner—an exciting but challenging time for many families. The change in climate and school schedule, the gatherings and celebrations can all be overwhelming. There are several things that families can try to better prepare for such changes. Hopefully some of these things can help your family enjoy a good holiday season.
1. Communicate Often & Clearly
Talk to your child about the seasons and how the weather is changing. Since many children are visual learners, show them pictures. Explain the need to wear different clothes because of the cooler weather and show them pictures of what clothes are appropriate for each season.
2. Calendars & Visual Schedules
Calendars and visual schedules are a great tool for planning ahead. Make a calendar with your child that will identify which dates are school vacation days. Place a picture with words that say “no school” and other pictures that say “school.” This will give them a schedule they can follow and help them adjust to the changes.
If you host family gatherings at your house or if you go to someone else’s house for the holidays, use pictures to help your child remember what the past celebration was and who was there.
If you are celebrating with new/different people, ask them if you can take their pictures so that you can show your child who they'll be meeting and celebrating with.
The point is to make sure your child isn't surprised by the changes.
3. Prepare and Listen
When you talk to your child, they can better process the information and prepare. Often, families fail to communicate with their child about what is happening, especially if their child is nonverbal. Don’t assume that because your child cannot communicate verbally, they will not be able to understand what is happening around them. The uncertainty of things causes stress in most people, especially children. This is why many children do better in school than at home; school is a predictable environment, they have routines.
Create a routine for your child at home so that they can release some of that stress that comes with change. It will help everyone enjoy the holidays and being together.
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Just when I thought maybe the “autism thing” was calming down. And that maybe I had a few months to catch my breath before researching everything I needed to know about guardianship before my son turns 18. Wham–another big change brought us back to reality.