5 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season | KGH Autism Services: ASD Treatment Clinic, Chicago & Madison
5 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

5 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

By Ewelina on November 14th, 2018
North Shore Center Blog, Madison Center Blog

Happy Holidays...What does that mean to the average person?

  • Family gatherings
  • Fun traditions
  • Shopping
  • Eating
  • Snow
  • No school
  • Family photos
  • Holiday parties

Happy Holidays...What does that mean to a family with members with special needs?

  • Family gatherings: Can we go?
  • Fun traditions: Will my other children be able to enjoy them?
  • Shopping: Will there be too many people at the store? Will he/she wait in line?
  • Eating: Will grandma be mad that he/she will not eat their dinner?
  • Snow: Will they put on their snow pants and gloves?
  • No school: What will I do?
  • Family photos: Will we ever have the “perfect” holiday card?
  • Holiday parties: Will people look?

Some Strategies for SUCCESS!

1. Prepare

    Prepare, prepare, prepare.

  • Prepare Yourself
    • Identify what could potentially be stressful
    • Let go of expectations
  • Prepare your child
    • Identify what are stressors for them
    • Set expectations
  • Prepare your family/friends
    • Give people a chance to help you
  • 2. Routines

    Routines are helpful for many individuals with special needs and their families which can be disrupted during the holiday season.

  • Work to create some consistency in routines
    • Bedtime (i.e., brushing teeth, taking a bath, reading a story, etc.)
    • Mealtime (i.e., continue to use added supports
  • Create a routine when one is absent
  • Visuals can help with predictability of what is to be expected
    • Review the visual schedule with your child so they know what to expect
    • Make sure to incorporate motivating items and preferred activities in the visual schedules
    • Create travel books for places you travel
  • Some visual examples:

3. Familiar Items

    New environments, schedules, activities, people, etc., can be very stressful.

  • Comfort with familiarity
    • Take along familiar foods, toys, objects, music, etc.
  • Remember to praise and pay attention to appropriate, social behavior!
    • May look a little different than the usual day to day

4. Communication

    Communication plays a stressful role during the holiday season.  Be sure to:

  • Reduce asking questions
  • Limit demands
  • Increase comments
  • Holiday gatherings are often times where people take opportunities to ‘show off’ what they can do – Avoid asking kids to ‘show grandpa……’

5. Quiet Place

    Do not put your child in the spotlight the entire time.

  • Know when your child needs a break
  • Identify a safe place at each activity where your child can take a break away from the crowds or away from family/friends
  • Have your child practice asking for a break or using a picture card to express to you when they need a break


*This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used to replace consultation with your doctor or qualified health professional.