As you all know routines are very important to your children. So it is important to them that their normal daily routines are not disrupted too much. If your child is at school you will already be aware of how the holidays can affect them, and at this time of year so many other things change too. With Christmas day being so close to the end of term your child may find the whole experience too much. To support your child at this time
• Try to keep the changes to a minimum and explain as much as you can before hand.
• Use a visual timetable to help remind your child of the events and more importantly show them how normal routines will fit into the schedule.
• Allow time each day where one thing is always constant; morning routines, bath time routines, bed time routines.
• Know your child’s triggers and prepare for those you cannot avoid
• Keep your child involved in the events as much as possible but always allow them time to go off to be on their own when it is needed
• Inform visitors of the strategies in place
Talking of visitors, if you have a lot of visitors all descending on you for the big day, or any big day, then make sure they understand that your child may not co-operate or behave as they usually do.
• Your child may be more interested in the box or the paper or the tree than in the gifts.
• The gifts may not even be looked at during the day; this is not a personal insult.
• The child may take all of the gifts to his room and stack them up to play with and explore later.
• Thanking guests for gifts may not happen; again this is not a personal attack.
• Not interacting is also a common feature. Make sure your guests do not try to force interaction.
Then there is the Christmas dinner. Traditionally Christmas dinner is served at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon (I never understood why). This can be a big change to routine. The actual food on your child’s plate may be different and where they sit at the table may need to change. All of these things can be the cause of a meltdown and can easily be avoided.
• Allow your child to eat their meal at the usual time
• Give your child his usual lunch
• During the main meal he can be alone with his thoughts and autism; it can be a good time to readjust to the changes in a clam environment.
Christmas should be a time of fun and memories. Don’t allow tradition to create a time of stress and fear. Make Christmas your way, what ever suits your family best. On Christmas Day I will be having a normal day. I am eating a Christmas dinner of roast pork and roast lamb on Christmas Eve. We will open presents on Christmas Day night and no doubt be walking the dogs during the Queen’s speech. I do not have anyone with Autism in my family, but we adjust the day to suit our needs and there is no reason why you shouldn’t do the same.
Enjoy your Christmas everyone.