How to deal with the challenges of an autistic child at Christmas

5 Ways to help a child with autism over Christmas
(Picture: Getty)

Day to day, a sensory processing disorder is really a large enough battle for most families to deal with — toss Christmas festivities into the mixture and it takes things to a whole new level.

Christmas changes everything to our senses.

Christmas decorations and those garish jumpers which seem to have more popular every year and also with lights sparkling everywhere our visual system can have pushed to the maximum.

Our auditory system is exposed to the nonstop jingling of Christmas music, excitable chatter and squealing from people getting carried away with euphoria.

Our sense of smell is appreciating mulled wine, mince pies and hot smells that Christmas brings.

I have not even mentioned the tactile system, sense of balance, muscle contraction and heartbeat. All of these are complex processes.

Christmas can occasionally become a bit much for all of us.

We watch Uncle Tim sneaking to the couch for a rest post dinner, to have time outside, whilst granny starts on the sherry an hour peaks too soon before the day walk.

However, for all those with sensory issues Christmas can magnify each one of these things.

There are a couple of signs to look out for if you’re worried a kid around you’re struggling with a sensory difficulty.

The child might appear restless, jumping off furniture (greater than normal), running in the home, turning, falling to the ground, and pushing others.

5 Ways to help a child with autism over Christmas
(Picture: Getty)

You may also observe that sounds appear to become bothersome if a youngster is covering their ears, or creating a great deal of sound themselves to determine exactly what it is that is really bothering them.

This behavior might be directed in themselves and others.

A youngster may, with no warning, then throw themselves into the floor, cry inconsolably, throw things around and shout at you.

Or they may simply refuse to take part in usual daily pursuits as well as parties or activities which don’t incorporate in their usual routine.

For many who have sensory difficulties, Christmas is nearly survival.

Vicky Ruffle, is an occupational therapist and creator of Jigsaw Occupational Therapy, which trains up parents and schools, and assists kids with sensory integration problems and other disabilities.

All these were her four hints in dealing with the situation if You’ve Got a kid who would fit into this group:

  1. Prepare in advance
    Speak with your child about what is happening throughout the day and prepare for every transition and change. At bedtime, speak through exactly what happened that day and give them some idea about what will happen the following day.
  2. Stick into the usual strategies
    Stick to your child’s sensory approaches and boost chances for relaxing and organising actions. Those that involve deep stress are most effective, such as trampoline, cuddles, or heavy work between pushing, pulling and lifting.
  3. Try and prevent sensory overload
    You can include the festivities without moving ahead. By way of instance, have Christmas lights but keep them onto a static setting instead of twinkling which can be overloading into the visual sensory system.
    Ensure you put aside a serene area within your home for the kid to retreat to when they’re feeling helpless.
    Ensure down time stays in the journal as it might do at any other time of year. It’s really simple to fill your diary ‘busyness’ we forget that our neurological system need time to be calm, quiet and still. Book this into your journal to ensure the child is given the time to relax.
  4. Make the sensory experience fun
    Involve your perceptions when intending Christmas actions with the kids. It’s possible to make cinnamon play dough, use shaving foam as snow and earn a winter wonderland on a tray, select a forest walk and gather things to paint and print to create Christmas decorations with.

Remember it’s fine to do things differently if that helps the entire family, and thus don’t feel pressured into doing things a particular way “just because”.


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Holiday Challenges : Helping parents of children with autism.