As the holidays are gathering close, Thanksgiving, Hanuka, Christmas, Kwanzaa, I am thinking about how these Holidays can be so easy and delightful for some, but for many of our autistic children they are overwhelming, confusing, and not the delight they are “supposed” to be. They can be equally stressful for their parents, who often have to run after them making sure that they do not eat any food that they are allergic to, or hurt themselves.
If you have an autistic relative who is coming to your house for the holidays, there are four things you can do to make the whole experience easy for them.
1. Keep all foods that your autistic relative cannot eat OUT OF REACH. Instead of putting out bowls of candies, put out bowls of fruit and nuts. If you are not sure what they can eat, ask their parents.
2. Have a room available with a few of their favorite toys in a quiet place, where you can each take turns playing with them in an environment where they can easily be themselves, without the bombardment of the hustle and bustle of many relatives. That way everyone gets what they want, your grandson does not get overwhelmed and can enjoy the company of their family 1:1, and his parents get sometime enjoying their family members too.
3. Keep the background music to soothing and quiet music.
4. If their parents do not want to come this year because it will be too much for their autistic child, respect their wishes knowing that it is not a slight on you , but a desire to be the most helpful they can be to their son or daughter.
Wishing you all the best and most peaceful holidays.
with much love