Editor's Note: The following is a Fraser press release.
Holidays can be a stressful time for children and families. Fraser, Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of autism services, provides the following helpful tips to lessen the inevitable increased stimulation associated with the holiday season.
1. Try to maintain as much of a routine as possible. If the routine will be changing it can be helpful to inform your children ahead of time.
2. Use social stories to prepare children for upcoming events or changes in routine. Social stories provide children with a description of what will happen through a story. Parents can write a brief story to help children to know what to expect.
3. Limit the number of stores to which you expose your child. Consider the extra amount of noise, people and smells; which limit the number further than during other times of the year.
4. Have your child help plan, organize and assist with the decorating process.
5. Some families find it helpful to only have one color of lights on the tree (the non-blinking variety is less stimulating).
6. Holidays are associated with delicious smells; however; some fragrances are more calming than others. Vanilla, chamomile, and lavender are best for many children.
7. Add decorations to the inside and outside of your house slowly to avoid overloading the senses all at one time.
8. Limit the number of gifts that are visible during the weeks leading up to the holidays.
9. Incorporate sensory activities into family functions (i.e., make snow angels, etc.)
10. Discuss realistic expectations for holiday events and family functions prior to their occurrence to avoid stress and disappointment.
11. It is all right to say, “No” to anything that you think may cause undue stress to you, your family, or your children.
12. Enjoy the holidays!