Five Tips for a Happy Holiday…
In case you haven’t noticed, Autism does not take a break for the holidays. Being the parent of a child on the Autism spectrum can be challenging during this festive period. The following survival techniques will help you create a more relaxed experience for yourself, your child and your family this Christmas.
- Less is more! The phrase “The more the merrier” is often heard when talking about the holidays. Inviting family and friends over for a traditional dinner sounds like fun but is not necessarily going to be the most useful thing for our children. The extra sensory overload they can get from having so much unpredictability in the household is not supportive and often creates more work for you in the long run. This also applies to going over to family or friends’ houses where you and your child have little control over what will happen, other people’s routines, etc. Focusing on a quieter time at home will be more beneficial and less work for everyone. A more effective idea would be to have someone you trust (a committed volunteer, family member, etc.) watch your special child so that you and your partner can do something more social at a later or earlier time together where you don’t have to concern yourself about how your child will cope.
- Avoid the crowds! Christmas shopping can be a stressful time for the most social of us. It can be overwhelming to be in a crowded place with so much noise, hustle, bustle, waiting in long lines, even grocery shopping, etc. Internet shopping is a wonderful invention and gives you the opportunity to avoid the mall and skip the grocery store.
- Eliminate the electronics! Although well-intentioned family members may think it’s kind to buy your child gifts that involve batteries, flashing lights or screens, our children already have a hypnotic, self-stimulating aspect to their nature without the help of electronic devices. With more traditional toys like books, trains, dolls, or arts and crafts, our children can use their capacity to stimulate their own brain versus using a machine to do the work for them. Be authentic with your relatives and tell them what would be a good choice of gift (nothing that flashes or beeps, etc.). People will make their own decision of what to buy if you don’t give them some guidance. Our children can sometimes be satisfied with a cardboard box and a piece of string, so allowing them to freely ism without the electronics will help them self-regulate and provide the predictability they crave.
- Dietary dilemmas! If your child is on a special diet such as GFCF, GAPS, The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, etc., the holidays can be your worst enemy with temptations everywhere you turn. Get organized and spend some time preparing treats that your child can actually eat (http://www.elanaspantry.com/ has some great recipe ideas). If you do go out, educate those around you about what eating that treat might do to your child’s sensitive bio-medical system and ask for their help and support. If your child accidentally eats something they are not supposed to then there are some great Enzymedica supplements you can have on standby to help: Digest Gold, GlutenEase and Candidase.
- Don’t forsake the playroom! The most useful and supportive environment for your child is still going to be The Son-Rise Program playroom, even if there are other things going on and you are spending more time than usual as a family. Taking turns alternating a short time in the playroom with the rest of your family (say 30 minutes each) – even for 2-3 hours each day – will feel more digestible for the family and will still give your special child supportive room time in which they can thrive.
Most of all….have fun! Happy Holidays!