The best way is to prepare your child ahead of time before the Christmas holidays begin. Every child is different so what works for one might not work for the other. As his parent, you know your child best!
Here are some tips to help your child prepare for the Christmas Holidays:
- Explain to him the meaning of Christmas by reading him a story about Christmas. A Christmas Nativity Book is the best book to choose. Always remember that children with autism are mostly visual learners. They learn easily and appreciate what you read to them if they can see what is happening at the same time. This is the first thing that I did for my son. I read him a picture book about Nativity so that he knows that Christmas means the birth of Jesus Christ.
- Buy an Advent Calendar to prepare your child each day before Christmas. The Advent Calendar is an effective way to prepare your child for receiving gifts. It works by giving small gifts that your child would appreciate. Buy the “chocolate-free” ones if possible. We know that chocolate makes them even more hyperactive. We should limit giving them chocolates as small gifts, instead, buy an Advent Calendar that has small toys that they could help them to concentrate i.e. Legos.
- Buy a DVD about Christmas to familiarize your child with all that is happening around Christmas time. A DVD that shows Santa Claus, family gatherings, gift giving etc. Choose an animation film as possible.
- If your child likes arts and crafts, you can create a Christmas card out of a colored carton paper. Below is a photo of a Christmas card that my son drew. He used plain pencil and a colored carton paper.
- Allow your child to help you in decorating your Christmas tree at home. He might or might not enjoy doing it because of his sensory issues. He might not like seeing the brightly colored and twinkling Christmas lights. If he resorts to tantrums after seeing this, it is best to take him away from the Christmas tree. He might find it too painful for his eyes to see.
- You may want to take your child for a Christmas shopping to buy gifts. This will allow him to get familiar with Christmas gifts and its purpose. There is a tendency that he might experience a sensory overload if you will buy gifts in a crowded shopping center. It is best to keep him away from the place if this happens. John does not like going to big shopping centers when he was still little because he found these too overwhelming. He always resorted to meltdown at that time. But he is able to manage his behavior now and found a way to ease his sensory issues.
- Take your child to Winter Wonderland or any amusement park during this Christmas holidays.
You might have to take this as a trial and error. Some children might enjoy going on a ride but some might not enjoy it at all. A stroll through the park might be too overwhelming already because of the crowd and the noise around him. If this happens, you need to stop and take him away from the crowd. He should be enjoying himself and not be frightened.
This is also a great opportunity to visit Santa’s grotto.
My son knows what Santa looks like because of the Christmas books that I read to him when he was still little and the DVD film that tells a story about Father Christmas. He was not afraid to see Father Christmas. In fact, he was so happy to see him and was also thankful for the gift that he received from him.
There you are! These are just some tips to prepare your child with autism for the Christmas holidays.
If you want to know more about how you can help prepare your child during the Christmas holidays you may want to click on this
If you have any questions, suggestions or recommendations, please leave your comments below and I will try to reply to you as soon as I possibly can.