December is here which means your children are home for a few weeks while they are on winter break. This is, of course, a joyous time for family to come together and celebrate. But, it’s also a change in routine which can be pretty tough on kids… especially for kids on the autism spectrum. They love the presents and most moments will be great, but there will also be a handful of meltdowns. For a lot of kids, the holidays can be extremely overwhelming and sometimes not even enjoyable. It’s important to help your child transition and prepare for the big day so they are mentally prepared and excited!
Not sure how to prepare? Let us help! We’ve put together a handful of tips and activities to help you this holiday season. Whether your child just needs some help preparing for the holidays, or if you need help with what to do with your kids while they are home.. we want to help!
Our first tip is to prepare early. How early is too early? This really just depends on your child! Some kids are fine preparing the month of, some might need to prepare throughout the year.
-Intro to the Holidays: Start with introducing them to the Christmas/Holiday movies ahead of time. This can help get their mind in the holiday spirit. Seeing people dressed as Santa Claus or elves early will help them prepare for when it starts happening in person. It won’t seem so scary if they’ve been watching Elf or The Santa Claus weeks in advanced! Another way to do this is to leave a few holiday toys out throughout the year to play with. Maybe one week you introduce Elf on a Shelf so your kiddo becomes more familiar with him ahead of time.
-Pack the Car: Car rides are a very boring and frustrating part of the holidays. Be sure to pack the car with your children’s favorite sensory friendly activities and plan ahead with a variety of options. While it might feel like you’re over-packing activities for them, it’s much better than them asking, “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes because they are bored.
-Read Stories: Just like watching movies ahead of time, you can also read stories beforehand. Pick out your favorite holiday books and start reading those ahead of time and pointing out certain similarities that they can expect to see.
-Social Stories: This is something that you can do at home, or have your therapist help with. Preparing your child ahead of time with stories of what might happen during the holidays is a great way to prepare. Some examples you could look into would be preparing for Santa at the mall or preparing for Christmas Day with your entire family. This will let them know there might be a few chaotic moments- but you will already have helped them and covered how to act! Be sure to let your therapists know your travel plans as well so that they can incorporate that into their plans as well.
-Gift of Lights at the Texas Motor Speedway: This is a fun event for the entire family! Hop in the car and drive over to TMS to see all of the lights. If your kiddo is sensitive to lights, let them borrow your sunglasses so they can still enjoy the event. Get your tickets on-line here!
-Holiday’s at the Arboretum: Such a great daytime activity for you and the kiddos! Pack up the car and some lunch and head down to Dallas. Right now you can see the 12 Days (or Nights) of Christmas and their Christmas Village! Buy your tickets on-line here to save some money.
-Lone Star Christmas at the Gaylord Texas: This is always a must do if you’re in the DFW Area! This year they are having a Charlie Brown Christmas theme and, honestly, it’s amazing! Get your tickets early to reserve your spot.
-Sensory Friendly Santa: Join Autism Speaks as they host Sensory Friendly Santa at malls around the Dallas/Fort Worth Area! They will only do it only select days at select malls, so make sure you check out the list here first!
We hope this was helpful and hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season with your families!
-The PediaPlex Family