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Tips to help your family enjoy the holidays to the fullest!

The upcoming holidays can be a wonderful time for families to celebrate together! For some children with autism, this time may present some challenges due to the changes in their typical routines, new expectations placed on them and visiting places that they are not used to. With this in mind, here are some ABA tips to help your family enjoy this season to the fullest!

  1. Want your child to participate in certain family or spiritual rituals?
    1. Practice, practice, practice ahead of time.
    2. First, explain the rituals to them.For example, you could use a social story to go over the rituals.
    3. Second, show them the ritual. You could role play it yourself or maybe find a video of the ritual on youtube or create a video yourself.
    4. Third, practice the ritual together ahead of time.
    5. Fourth, give your child feedback during the practice. Let them know about all of the great things that they did and explain to/show them what they could do better next time.
    6. Think of some special way that your child can participate in the ritual (e.g., making cards for everyone, preparing part of the meal ahead of time, playing a special role during the ritual). If they will be playing a special part in the ritual, use the steps above to practice it ahead of time.
  1. Want to take you child holiday shopping?
    1. Create a plan – decide how long your child can tolerate shopping and end on a good note.
    2. Consider, making a few short and successful trips to the mall. Try to go when the mall is not too busy.
    3. Use first/then – start at a store that your child may not be interested in, let your child know that if they are able to wait nicely in that store, then you will take them to a store that they really enjoy going to.
  1. Going to somewhere different to eat (e.g., restaurant, a relative’s house)?
    1. Bring along portable activities that your child enjoys playing with (e.g., ipod touch or ipad with their favorite apps, toys, colouring).
    2. Be sure that some of the child’s favorite foods are at the table. This is not the time to try to get your child to eat new foods.
    3. Set your child up for success – figure out the maximum time that your child can sit at the table for the meal. Then allow them to leave the table just before that time is up. It’s better to have 5 minutes of quality family meal time instead of 30 minutes during which the meal is not enjoyed.
    4. Bring a snack in case the meal is not on time.
  1. Will your child have to be in the car for a long time before arriving at a destination?
    1. Bring a surprise bag for the car ride. Put some new toys in the bag to keep your child busy during the car ride.
    2. Use a visual timer as a way for your child to understand how long the car ride will be.
  1. Are other children going to be involved in the holiday events?
    1. Talk to the other kids ahead of time about tips for playing with your child. For example, you may talk to them about how to get your child’s attention, toys or activities that your child enjoys playing, things that may trigger challenging behavior.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Breakthrough Autism!





Our aim is to keep you and your family informed.
Our aim is to keep you and your family informed.