It's the most wonderful time of the year! Holidays are approaching, the weather is changing, and the season's magic is filling the air. It's a time we want our children to experience everything this season brings and make memories that last a lifetime.
For parents of children with autism, we especially want our children to feel included and part of the family traditions. This might be the time you are baking all kinds of goodies, making crafts, or exploring new games with the family.
What are some ways to make holiday activities an excellent time for children who have sensory sensitivities or unique preferences?
Adjust the environment. Adjust activities slightly to accommodate differences in sensitivity. Your child may prefer less noise when it comes to movies or music. Create a comforting environment for a movie night with the fam.
- Simplify materials for arts and crafts. When doing an arts and crafts project, you can adjust materials for them so that it's easier. Replace wet mediums (if they are averse) to dry mediums. Reduce the choices of markers or crayons, so they have a few to choose from at a time. This reduces becoming overwhelmed by the number of choices or contact with materials that may be uncomfortable to them.
- Break down projects into small steps. Sometimes the amount of moving parts in the activity could be overwhelming. Break each part into steps. For example, if you are working on decorating ornaments or a cookie, work on one part of the process at a time. Opening the cap, then holding over the item, squeezing the bottle, spreading the paint, and so on. Provide lots of positive praise for completing each step.
- Model first, then help. When trying a new activity, first show them how to do it. If that is challenging, provide support with each step. Sometimes if it's a new process they just need some work to learn.
- Avoid overcorrection or heavy instructions. Remember that this is a learning experience at times, and every child needs support to feel confident in what they are doing. This is a time to model and reinforce their efforts. Take it one step at a time.
It's important to remember that while things may not go perfectly as planned during the holidays, you can make it a positive one for you and your child. For more tips and advice on how you could help your child participate in holiday activities, please inquire with your Supervising Clinician. If you are not currently receiving ABA services and are curious about how it can help your child with autism, please visit our site to learn more: www.lifeskillsautism.com