When you’re living with autism it’s about a lot more than grocery shopping and wish lists
As the parent of a child with autism my holiday to-do list contains a lot more than cards, gifts, menus, and parties. Long before I get started on those things, I’m crafting Social Stories (or re-reading old ones), designing schedules, and brainstorming about ways to infuse structure into these chaotic days. You’re there too, right? So I wanted to share one of my favorite holiday prep tools with you.
Like most kids living with autism, my son likes things to stay the same. So holidays at his grandma’s house were stressful. She hosts large gatherings in her modest home, so to accommodate furniture gets moved, special dishes come out, and her home is transformed for the day. This sent my son into a tailspin because grandma’s house does NOT look like this. We spent a lot of time distracting him from pushing furniture back where it “belonged,” and soothing the resulting meltdowns and anxiety.
Until we discovered the book, Thanksgiving is Here! In this delightfully illustrated story, the author breaks down the Thanksgiving holiday into step-by-step preparations, all while focusing on the reason we do this. It’s a fantastic tool to help kids understand why “bizarre” things are happening, when they will happen, and how the day will play out.
Using this book as a guide, we crafted several Social Stories that addressed those other upcoming holidays. It’s also a terrific way to hone skills needed for specific routines within holidays, like gift giving.
Preparing your child for what each holiday will look like, setting clear expectations and giving them the space in which to meet those expectations makes the season a little less stressful for everyone.
There are many more tricks that we’ve picked up along the way that are specific to this time of year.