Handling the Holiday Season and Autism

The holidays are filled with bright lights, presents, camera flashes, loud noises, music, bells, busy people running in-and-out of stores, lots of people giving lots of hugs and kisses.

While this is great for most of us…stop and consider your child on the spectrum.

Christmas Lights…don’t overdo it:

Kids on the spectrum might not like bright and twinkling lights.  While it might be fun to go see Christmas lights in the neighborhood, it might over-stimulate your child.  If you’re going to hop in the car and see lights…that’s great, but don’t do it for too long.

Music can be good…but not too much:

We tend to play a lot of music during the holidays…my son loves to listen to music but I’ve noticed that if we have it on all the time that it can have a negative affect his behavior.  While it’s fun to listen to Christmas music…it might not put everyone in a pleasant mood.

Try taking a break from the sounds of the season after a while…it might help to calm your child.

Presents, presents, presents:

We love giving presents in our family…the kids love tearing open the paper and all that but it might be helpful to space presents out during the day or the time you open presents.  This is actually a way to better enjoy each and every present for all of us…take your time, don’t just rip into everything, make sure you talk to your child before you open it…tell them who it’s from and then let them open the present and make sure they give it attention and then go to the gift giver and look at their eyes, thank them, give them attention.

Not only does this instill good behavior within your child on how to receive a gift, but it will give them a little break between the gifts.  We’ve noticed if our son just goes to town on all the gifts at once then he can really get hyper and it’s hard to settle him down.

Do you have a kiss for Granny?

If your family is like ours, you have many people in-and-out of the home.  With the lights, presents and music…then there are relatives, friends, maybe even strangers…and they all want to be jolly and embrace.

It’s okay if your child doesn’t want to hug and kiss everyone.  Certainly it’s not a bad thing and it’s a good training opportunity to have your child approach a visitor and engage with them…but do any of us really like to hug and kiss people we don’t know?

Don’t feel as if you need to put your child on display or that it’s a bad thing if they don’t pay everyone who comes into your home attention…the last thing you want is a child to throw a tantrum when you’re trying to have a joyful celebration.

Mostly…enjoy the moment

Every year we all get so caught up in the holidays…DON’T BE THAT PERSON THAT SAYS…”every year I just hang on from Thanksgiving to New Year’s”…the holidays are a time of giving, faith, celebrating with family, enjoying.

Take time to relish in your children and family and seasonal traditions.

It’s okay if you don’t get “the perfect photo” because your child won’t stop flapping or won’t look at the camera…IT’S OKAY…there’s always next year.

Hug your child, hug your family, share happy moments…if you see your child with autism is starting to melt down…then take a step back from the moment–you don’t have to do everything during the holidays.

Trust me, you’ll be much happier with a clam child versus an over-stimulated child who got to see the little lights twinkling…


Seth/Melanie Fowler on Twitter
Seth/Melanie Fowler
Authored, Look at my Eyes, a parent's perspective re: navigating autism-early intervention, insurance, treatments, a paradigm of a family & child with autism
Seth/Melanie Fowler

Seth/Melanie Fowler

Authored, Look at my Eyes, a parent's perspective re: navigating autism-early intervention, insurance, treatments, a paradigm of a family & child with autism

0 thoughts on “Handling the Holiday Season and Autism

  • December 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    It has taken many years for my youngest to enjoy the holidays with all the stimuli around.  Now (he’s 21 years old at present) he is the main instigator.  What a dhance from his diagnosis when he was two!

  • December 17, 2011 at 7:08 am

    My nephew is really stressed and has had some terrible meltdowns. I realizenow that my christmas music was actually bothering him. I keep it low now. 🙂 but my favorite pictures of him are his flapping arms. Ha, he wouldn’t be Ike without them.


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