Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family. It signals the start of the holiday season and the hustle and bustle that goes along with this time of year. It can become overwhelming to anyone, but for people, especially children, with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the situation can cause even more of a problem. With all that commotion and extra activity, not to mention the deviation from routine, Thanksgiving can be less about family and food and more about stress and discomfort. In an attempt to alleviate some of that, we’ve compiled a list of helpful suggestions. Whether, you’re going to someone else’s house or you’re hosting family, here are 5 tips to get you through the holidays.
This can’t be stressed enough. So many things can be made easier with a little forethought. Plan for a meltdown. Have a safe, quiet space with your child’s go-to calming aids ready and available. Whether your child uses a chewy to soothe or they prefer soothing sounds, be prepared. Check out our Pinterest board with sensory Chubuddy chews, links to sounds, and other ideas for an on-the-go sensory pack.
Don’t Force Feed:
Most kids are picky eaters, kids on the spectrum can have their own set of reasons for not liking to certain foods. Don’t force your child to eat something they don’t want to eat. This will likely just cause a meltdown. It might require your or your hosts cooking something separate. Assure everyone that it’s nothing personal.
Think About the Seating:
If your child is prone to sensory overload, try seating them at the end of the table. It’s less chaotic and it gives them a little extra space to move around. Being squished in between two people in the middle of the table would be constricting for anyone.
Dress for Comfort:
You’ll be eating until you’re about to burst anyways, wear matching family sweatpants and let go of trying to get the perfect holiday photo. Kids with ASD do much better when they’re comfortable, and frankly, we think there should be a rule about only allowing elastic waisted pants on Thanksgiving anyways. Don’t forget to check out our Cord Zillas to attach to your child’s favorite sweatshirt to soothe and calm even the strongest chewers.
Routine is Key:
Don’t change the dinner time to 2:00 pm just because that’s when everyone could get together. Deviating from routine is tricky and when you add in all the extra commotion, it’s just something that is easy to avoid. Keep dinner at the normal time or allow your child with ASD to eat and follow their normal routine.
Breathe deep, enjoy your time with family this holiday season, and remember: wine helps!