A Guide to Approaching the Holidays with Your Child

Would you like to move through this holiday season with more comfort and ease? Please know that we absolutely want to help you achieve this. Below, we have laid out some steps that will help you create a fun, relaxed and special experience for you, your beautiful child and your entire family.
1) Allow your child to take care of themselves.
Allow your child to take care of themselves.Our children engage in many different types of repetitious behaviors (stims) throughout their day. Lining up toys, asking repetitive questions, or flapping their hands for example. They are creating a soothing, calming and predictable experience inside of themselves when they do this. It really helps them cope with their unpredictable worlds.
Allowing your child to do this instead of stopping them is hugely supportive to them. The ultimate way of allowing and embracing this is to join in with these activities by doing the same thing alongside them. This will not only reduce stress for you both but will be an amazing way to bond with your child. The stronger the bond, the more relaxed and trusting your child will be.
2) Offer your child more explanations.
We all tend to feel more relaxed when we have a sense of control. A wonderful way to help your child gain more control over the holidays is to tell them in advance if you are planning a special trip or event that is going to happen. Often we throw ourselves into organizing the trip or the event and we overlook telling our kids that they are actually going to be involved too!
Giving some thorough explanations of what the event will be like, who will be there and why it will be fun for them, will be your best friend throughout your Autism journey with your child. Our children understand so much more than they get credit for and we want them to feel prepared and know what to expect.
3) Communicate with your family and friends.
If you are having a large gathering or going to a family member’s home for the holidays, keep in mind that they do not know your child as well as you do. They might not know how to be supportive to you both. For example, let them know ahead of time that your child might ask them the same question many times.
Educate them if your child is sensitive to particular sounds and smells. People want to know how to be helpful but simply do not know how to do this. Help them to help your child.
4) Create a space your child can go to for some extra down time.
Our children thrive when they have a calm, non-distracting environment to move to when there might be a lot of over-stimulation going on (e.g. People, music, babies crying, etc.) If you decide to spend the holidays at home, or you go to someone else’s house, try creating a quiet area or room in the house that your child can retreat to when they need some space. This will allow them to calm their nervous systems and could even be a place where you go and apply some of The Son-Rise Program techniques with them. Periodically take them to this room throughout the day.
5) Support your child’s internal system as much as possible.
Yes, the holidays can come with a whole array of wheat and dairy concoctions, laced with all kinds of sugar. I know that it’s tempting to give your child these foods but if you have been working hard to help your child with a special autism diet then consider this – No amount of short-term happiness is worth your child reacting to these foods. Think about the upset stomach, tantrum or meltdown that will ensue. We find that parents have success when they bring their own snacks.
6) The power of celebrating your child.
We are so aware and focused on what our children “should not” be doing (e.g. being inflexible, hitting, touching things that don’t belong to them, etc.) that we tend to react to those things in big ways. Instead, lets focus and react to what we do want from them. This encourages our children to know what to do. For example, celebrate them when they are flexible, cheer them on when they are gentle, tell them how much you love their beautiful looks so they know where to put their energy and can feel a sense of success.
We are sending you so many blessings and best wishes this holiday. Enjoy your time with your wonderful families.
-Becky Damgaard
Son-Rise Program Senior Teacher

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