One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It is a time for family to get together and think about everything that we have to be thankful for. It is also a great excuse to over indulge! While Thanksgiving is often a time of relaxation or playing a fun game of football for most, it can be a time of many anxieties for the parents of a child with autism. Here are 6 tips to help make your Thanksgiving as relaxing and enjoyable as possible:
- Plan ahead and set your child up for success! If there are any skills that you would like your child to learn for Thanksgiving, it is best to teach them in advance. If your child is still learning a skill, Thanksgiving may not be the best time to practice it. It may also be beneficial to prepare the environment ahead of time. Having a limited amount of decorations, soft music, dim lights, and a quiet space for your child to relax might be a good idea.
- Make a schedule. This will help your child understand what is going to happen throughout the day and what some of those expectations might be. Also, if your child is either overly excited or anxious about Thanksgiving, consider making a calendar so that they know what day it is.
- Use a social story to help guide your conversation about Thanksgiving with your child. Autism Speaks has a Thanksgiving social story available on their website.
- Catch your child being good! Make sure to praise them for something that they are doing well, especially if it is something that you know is more difficult for them.
- Take turns monitoring your child. Switch off with your significant other or a family member to make sure your child is kept safe and best supported and everyone gets a break.
- Make sure you take time to breathe and enjoy the time with your family! Remember that Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all of those things that you are thankful for!