April first is more than just April Fool’s Day. It’s also the start of Autism Awareness Month. Therefore, I’m dedicating my blog to raising awareness of autism this month. In addition to some facts about autism and a bit about my own experiences as an autistic, there will be guest bloggers sharing their experiences with autism. A new post will appear every Tuesday and Thursday, and there might be a few random posts on other days, so be sure to check back often.
To kick off this month-long autism blog event, and because Easter is in just a few days, here’s a little information about autism and holidays.
Holidays can be stressful with parties, family gatherings, decorating, and travel. For an autistic it can be even more stressful. In addition to the usual stressors, the normal routine is upset, the house may look different, and being around relatives he hasn’t seen in a while can be overwhelming. But there’s no need to refrain from including an autistic in all of your festivities or change your holiday plans.
To make the transition from everyday routine to holiday festivities as painless as possible, try including your autistic child in the planning if you can. Now, she may not want to help or she may even seem uninterested, but give her the option anyway.
Go over the holiday schedule several times, starting a few days before the first change in routine. You may have to keep reminding the autistic of what is happening when, even in the midst of the holiday celebration.
If you’re going to visit family, talk about who you’re going to see. Reminding an autistic of past family gatherings and even using photographs to help refresh his memory can help make visiting family go much more smoothly.
If you have a special dinner planned, let the autistic help with it. Helping plan the menu or prepare the meal is a great way to help her adjust to the change in eating routine. Allowing her to help decorate for the holiday will help her feel more comfortable with the change in appearance of home.
With all holiday festivities, be sure there’s place for the autistic to escape and de-stress. Regardless of how prepared he is for the dinner, gathering, etc., the change in routine and number of people can still push him to the point of a meltdown. Knowing there’s a quiet place he can go to relax for a little while will go a long way toward helping him enjoy the holiday as much as the rest of the family.