Christmas Eve is a perfect occasion for the whole family to gather at a relative’s house and celebrate the holidays. Parents of a teenager within the autistic spectrum and other family members may go through difficult situations, insecurities, and concerns about his or her adaptation to these kinds of events.
But the parents of a child with autism should always be prepared to face new challenges. Christmas meetings can be tough, especially if a family member who has problems accepting your child’s condition is present.
In this post, we show all the aspects you should keep in mind, so your family reunion is pleasant for everyone.
First of all, adapt your ideas for the festivity to the characteristics, behaviors, and individual needs of your child. This way, you’ll be able to make the best decision and minimize the anxiety and preoccupation of everyone involved.
Prepare for the reunion
The important thing is to prepare in advance for that family gathering, but how to do so? Here’s a couple of tips:
Use family stories
Teens within the spectrum aren’t fans of changes or surprises, they are routine lovers. Tell them a family story and explain in detail how Christmas gatherings usually go. Show them photos from previous years where they can see all the family members.
Strengthen their coping skills
Teach your children to be patient and wait for their turn to speak and participate, respect others, and anything that can be useful for learning self-management.
Help them avoid a sensory overload
Generally, everyone dresses formally for a family reunion, and this can cause discomfort in teenagers with autism. It is better to dress in casual and comfortable clothes that don’t cause too much visual impact on them.
Loud music can also trigger a desire to leave the place. Take some earphones with you and let them listen to their favorite music. The same can apply to food if they don’t like the dishes. In this case, try to cook or gently ask the host if he can make their favorites.
Teach them how to behave during dinner
Evaluate your children’s behavior and try to determine if they are truly ready to share dinner with other people. If not, accompany them and eat in a separate place of the house while the rest of the family is in the dining room.
Prepare the whole family
Expose to your family your child’s growth, progress, and achievements, in addition to those issues that may need to put some attention on. Promote communication between them through phone calls, emails, and social media.
Locate a space inside the house where your child can take a break and have a quiet moment under your supervision. Talk to the host about available spaces. If there is none, you can go for a walk to try and calm your child down.
There are also people within your family who can provide support. Contact them before the family reunion, tell them how to help you in case your teen has a crisis.
But sometimes things don’t go es expected. If the situation gets out of control, it is better to engineer an elegant exit plan.
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