For many autistic children and adults, holidays are very difficult. Holidays tend to bring foods and parties that we may not otherwise encounter during a typical day. Quite often we visit with family and friends that we don’t get to see at other times of the year.
Frequently the family of an autistic child has to scale back their usual holiday activities to accommodate the needs of the autistic child who may be easily over stimulated. Some ways for the family to meet their own need for visiting and celebrating can include using child care or respite care for the autistic person. Preferably having someone come into the home so the autistic child can remain in familiar surroundings while family members go out to visit or attend parties. However, if the child is all ready familiar with the respite care providers home or facility, it may be appropriate for the child to stay outside the home. It may be helpful to introduce the child to the respite care provider and the provider’s home with shorter visits in the beginning. This allows the child to become comfortable with the care provider and the provider’s home. So if you plan to attend a function in December, that is several hours long, it may be best to introduce the child to the child care provider for a couple of shorter visits during the last part of November or early in December.
If family and friends are coming to visit for more than a few hours, or you will not be using respite care, it may be helpful to post pictures of the people who are going to visit. Putting pictures up for your child to see can help prepare them to expect more people to be in the house. Make sure to post pictures where they are easy for the child to see, perhaps a refrigerator or some other easy to access place. When posting pictures is may be best to post copies that the child can handle. Posting copies, protects originals from dirty fingers and smudges. If the people who are visiting is someone the child met years ago, it may be helpful to post a picture of the person as the child once knew them along with a more recent picture. This will help the child to more easily accept any changes in the appearance of friends and family. Putting up pictures and counting down the days to when visitors will be arriving can also help the child prepare for a busier, more stimulating, home life. The more information and preparation an autistic child is given for any change in routine, the simpler family visits will be. For more information on respite care contact your caseworker with the local county health department. In Marion county go to [email protected] In Polk county, which includes West Salem, check www.co.polk.or.us.
To see more articles by Laurie Erickson on food allergies go to http://foamcage.com/autism-parenting-in-portland/autism-food-allergies-and-allergic-enterocolitis. or http://foamcage.com/autism-parenting-in-portland/food-allergies-kids-and-holidays. For more articles on autism, by Laurie Erickson go to http://foamcage.com/autism-parenting-in-portland-me/autistic-boy-is-sensitive-to-many-things-including-dirt.