10 Tips on Surviving the Holiday’s as an Autism Family
It’s that time of year again! Holidays! Holidays! Holidays!
Here in the US, we are starting the busy season of yummy food, family dinners, fun family outings, gift shopping, and gift exchanging.
Wasn’t it nice when it was just you and your husband? Taking it easy and doing things the way you wanted? Staying up late. Going to that last-minute holiday party?
Yeah, it’s been a while since those carefree years.
Now we have the best gifts in the world…our children!
With children and especially our autism kids the holiday can be quite a challenge. Depending on the level of autism your child has the hustle and bustle of the season can be overwhelming and can even ruin your plans altogether if you’re not prepared.
Here are 10 tips on surviving the holidays as an autism family to help you make this year a success.
1. Plan plan plan
Be prepared and plan ahead. What events will you be attending and where? Who will be there? What will you need to bring with you to make sure everyone has fun and there are little to no meltdowns?
2. Be flexible
Yes, planning is absolutely crucial. But there will be things that come up and you have to be flexible and let them happen. Even if that means you have to leave early or not even go at all.
I’ve had a situation once when it got so bad in the car before our planned outing that even though we already got there I had to turn around and go home because I knew that getting out of the car was not going to make things better and we were not going to enjoy ourselves.
3. Don’t go everywhere
Don’t do everything. It’s okay to do just a handful of events or outings this holiday season. Make the most of those times. Your kids will remember the time you spent with them, not the number of time you took out of the house!
4. Create your own experience
Sometimes things don’t go as planned or you can’t make it to a certain event at a certain time. That’s okay. Just get your family together and plan something just for you and them!
I’ve learned I can’t count on others to create fun experiences for me. I have to do it!
If you have the time and energy, plan that trip, plan that party. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or fancy or based off of what Pinterest says. Just make it yours. Make it for your kids. And make it just the way you know will make your ASD kiddo comfortable.
5. Be aware and familiar with your child’s triggers and things that will overload them sensory wise
You may constantly be learning something new about your child. But you also know those specific things that may trigger a meltdown.
Stay away for those things. It’s okay if you don’t do that or go there. Your child’s and your well-being and happiness is more important.
6. Have an exit plan (that you agree on with your spouse)
Sometimes there is just no getting out of some plans. Make sure you have an exit plan and strategy.
7. Have a schedule of events
And always let your child know what is going to happen next
If you have that child that loves a schedule make sure the events and outings are in your calendar!
8. Have a “survival kit” ready
What things does your child need to make it a successful outing/event, such as headphones, phone or iPad, a reward of some sort, books, chewy toy, lovey, etc. Have a bag ready to go at all times.
9. Don’t let other people bother you
People will always have an opinion about your family and your parenting.
Don’t let that bother you!
I know it can be hard. But YOU are the expert on your child and family. YOU know what’s best.
It doesn’t matter what others think.
10. Try and enjoy the moments you have with your kids
This holiday season may not be perfect but try to enjoy every moment. Choose to find joy in the little things. There will be hard times, and stress will creep in (I talk from experience).
Take a deep breath (or two) and look.
Look at the beautiful faces of your children and the way they look back at you.
Life as an autism mom and a family that lives with autism every day is messy and stressful and beautiful.
You got this mama! You’re doing a great job!