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Four Tips for a Successful Holiday Break

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness, but for families with children on the autism spectrum, it can also pose unique challenges. The break from routine, sensory overload, and social expectations may create stress for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. However, with thoughtful planning and understanding, the holidays can become a time of meaningful connection and joyful engagement.

Our Early Intervention Team has effective strategies to keep your child engaged over the holiday break.

Tip 1: Establishing Predictability with Visual Schedules
First-Then Boards: During the holiday break, use First-Then boards to outline the day’s schedule. For instance, if your child enjoys a quiet, solitary activity before engaging in a group setting, the board can depict these steps visually. This way, your child gains a sense of control and understanding, reducing the potential anxiety associated with abrupt transitions.

Daily Visual Schedules: Create a daily visual schedule for the holiday break, including special activities, outings, and family gatherings. Display the schedule in a prominent and easily accessible location, ensuring your child can refer to it throughout the day. As events unfold, involve your child in checking off or moving items on the schedule to reinforce a sense of accomplishment and understanding.

Tip 2: Setting Expectations with Social Narratives
Develop a social narrative tailored to the holiday-related changes your child will encounter. This could include details about travel plans, the schedule of holiday events, and any modifications to their routine. Present the narrative well in advance, allowing your child time to process and become familiar with the upcoming changes.

Tip 3: Schedule Routine Breaks
Plan breaks strategically, considering the timing of potentially overwhelming events. If attending a lively holiday party, schedule breaks before and after the event to allow for sensory regulation. Communicate the break schedule in advance, enabling the individual to anticipate and plan accordingly.

Tip 4: Keeping AAC Devices Charged
Invest in portable chargers or power banks compatible with the AAC device. This enables charging during car rides, family gatherings, or other events outside the home. Be sure to carry charging accessories whenever you’re away from home to address unexpected power needs.

By prioritizing the charging of AAC devices during the holiday season, you empower individuals on the autism spectrum to participate fully in festive activities, express themselves, and engage meaningfully with others. This simple yet crucial step contributes to a more inclusive and communicative holiday experience for everyone involved.