ASD – Parenting Tips: Creating a Stress-free and Enjoyable Holiday for the Entire Family

Nov 10, 2023 | Parenting Tips, Uncategorized

ASD – Parenting Tips: Creating a Stress-free and Enjoyable Holiday for the Entire Family

Thanksgiving can be a time of joy and gratitude, but it can also bring unique challenges for parents of children with autism. Understanding and navigating these challenges is key to creating a stress-free and enjoyable holiday for the entire family. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful Thanksgiving:

1. Plan Ahead

  • Familiarize with the Routine: Try to keep your child’s daily routine as consistent as possible. If there will be changes, talk about these in advance.
  • Visit Settings in Advance: If you’re attending a gathering at a new location, consider visiting the place beforehand to familiarize your child with the environment.

2. Create a Safe Space

  • Quiet Area: Set up a quiet, comfortable space where your child can retreat if they feel overwhelmed.
  • Comfort Items: Ensure they have access to favorite toys or comfort items.

3. Manage Sensory Overload

  • Noise Control: Consider using noise-canceling headphones if loud noises are a trigger.
  • Food Sensitivities: Prepare a separate meal if your child has specific dietary needs or sensory sensitivities to certain textures or flavors.

4. Involve Your Child in Preparations

  • Cooking Together: Involve your child in safe cooking activities. This can be a bonding experience and help them feel included.
  • Decoration Choices: Let them choose or help with decorations to give them a sense of control and involvement.

5. Communicate with Guests

  • Educate Guests: Briefly explain your child’s needs to guests to foster understanding and support.
  • Set Boundaries: Let guests know what is helpful and what might be overwhelming for your child.

6. Practice Gratitude Activities

  • Simple Crafts: Engage in simple, autism-friendly crafts that focus on the theme of thankfulness.
  • Story Time: Share stories or books about Thanksgiving that are age-appropriate and engaging.

7. Create a Schedule

  • Visual Schedules: Use pictures or a visual schedule to show the sequence of events on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Breaks: Schedule regular breaks to allow your child to decompress.

8. Stay Flexible

  • Plan B: Always have a backup plan in case your child becomes too overwhelmed.
  • Adjust Expectations: Be prepared to change your plans and understand that it’s okay if things don’t go perfectly.

9. Self-Care for Parents

  • Take Breaks: Remember to take short breaks for yourself to avoid burnout.
  • Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family members or friends.

10. Celebrate Small Victories

  • Acknowledge Success: Celebrate small successes and positive moments throughout the day.
  • Focus on Joy: Remember the spirit of Thanksgiving and focus on the joy and love within your family.

Navigating Thanksgiving with a child with autism requires planning, understanding, and flexibility. By preparing in advance, communicating effectively with guests, and taking care of your own well-being, you can create a Thanksgiving experience that is enjoyable for everyone involved. Remember, the goal is to make wonderful memories together, embracing the unique qualities of each family member.

Harsha Autism Centers provide ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Centers can help please contact us at or call (812) 233-8833.

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