The holiday countdown has begun. Invitations have been extended and preparations are in full swing.
For many families, it’s custom to gather together for a special holiday meal. For children with autism, a holiday meal — from sitting at a table to the texture and taste of various foods — can be quite overwhelming. How can you help your child prepare?
Here are some guidelines to help children and families with ASD prepare for that special meal:
What’s on the agenda? Before you do anything else, determine what the day will hold. If you are not hosting the holiday meal, inquire with your host as to what is on the menu and whether it will be a sit-down or buffet-style meal. Then, set up a visual schedule for your child. This is appropriate for both younger and older children, and is used to preview the events of the day so that your child will know what is going to occur. The visual schedule can have pictures, text, or both. Pictures are generally used with both younger and older children. However, if your child is older, able to read, and doesn’t require a picture to inform them about the day, he or she may feel more comfortable with a schedule with only words as they may find the pictures unnecessary. Consider using photos you already have to create a visual schedule, or you may be able to find food and related images on the Internet.
A social narrative would also be appropriate. A social narrative includes pictures and text that tells a story about the day. The story can be read to your child, or your child can listen and follow along or read the story aloud with you, in a preview of the upcoming events. What’s the environment going to be? Who is going to be there? About one-to-two weeks in advance, start reviewing your visual schedule or social narrative with your child each day, including on the day of the event.
Read more in the December Edition of Bay State Parent: https://www.baystateparent.com/news/20191206/autism-and-holidays-handling-big-family-dinner