Preparing Your Child for the Holidays

The winter months are a great time for family and fun, but for some children, the holidays mean less structure and more unpredictability. Unpredictability can be scary and lead to more undesired behaviors happening during the break and after, but setting expectations and familiarizing your child with upcoming events beforehand can help. Below are some tips to help set your child up for success leading into the holiday season.

 Prepare Them for Winter Break

Leading up to winter break, talk about it! Explain to your kiddo how their schedule is going to change and what to expect in those days. Any information you can share with them can help prepare them and decrease the unpredictability of the upcoming days. Social stories are another great way to discuss what winter break will look like.

 Create Structure

Kiddos on the autism spectrum thrive with structured days. Winter break days mean no school and thus, less structure. Try creating a routine and sticking to that routine to build structure throughout the days. This routine can include times for waking up, eating meals, taking baths and going to bed. Additionally, provide your child with activities to avoid boredom and dysregulation. Using written or visual schedules can help learners see their schedule and prepare them for the day.

 Provide Choices

Providing choices throughout the day can increase your child’s autonomy while still maintaining structure. Try creating a list of some of your child’s favorite activities to add to the visual schedule. When creating the schedule, you can ask what they want to do next. This can help promote independence and autonomy in choice making and avoid spending the whole day in front of the TV. Providing low and high energy choices can help regulate your child throughout the day.

 Prepare Them for Upcoming Events

New environments can be scary when you don’t know what to expect. Make sure to talk to your child about upcoming events that might be difficult for them. Some of these might include being around a lot of people, traveling, or having to talk a lot in one evening. Putting these activities on their schedule and talking with your child about these events will help ease the transitions. Social stories are another great way to help prepare learners for new situations.

 Promote Language Ahead of Time

Some of our learners have the language to escape overwhelming situations. Before going in, remind your child what language they can use, and then honor that language! It might be helpful to have written phrases to help your child access the language. When you see any indication that your child wants to escape the environment, allow them to escape to avoid any escalation of emotions and behaviors.

 Maintain Expectations

To promote consistency, maintain any expectations that you already have in the home. This includes any rules that are established, routines, bed times, etc. Maintaining consistency can help the transition back to school and regular schedules. Breaking expectations can make returning to those expectations much harder than before.

We hope these tips help your child enjoy their holiday season and become more comfortable with the change in schedule. If you feel like your child could benefit from additional support, please feel free to contact us and let us know how we can help!

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