Asperger’s Syndrome: Six Tips to Help Children With Asperger’s Syndrome Cope With the Holiday Season

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For children with Asperger’s syndrome, the holidays can be a very overwhelming time. There is so much about the holidays that disrupts their routine and forces them out of their comfort zone. Holidays can be sensory chaos, with everyone running around doing different things at different times; loud music playing, unfamiliar smells, unfamiliar people. It’s enough to make some children with Asperger’s run for cover. But not to worry; there are several things you can do to help your child through the holiday season.

1. Routine is very important to children with Asperger’s

Most of them want to get up at the same time, eat the same thing, watch the same stuff on TV, wear the same clothes, and so on. There is a sense of comfort and security that comes from knowing exactly what you will be doing every day. But during a holiday, everything changes. There is no school for the kids or work for the adults. That can be hard for some children with Asperger’s to take – even if they don’t like school!

What you want to do, then, is to prepare your child as best as possible for what will happen. As best as you can, you should give them the schedule for the day ahead of time. “At 11 AM, we will go over to Grandma’s. You will wear your green shirt and your black pants. You will watch TV until it is time for lunch. Then you will sit next to me while we have turkey for lunch.” And so on, listing the activities for the day. That way, your child can have a sense of what will happen.

2. Sensory issues are a possible issue during the holidays for children with Asperger’s

There are a lot of things that the ordinary, non-autistic person would never have thought of that can be a problem for children with Asperger’s. For example, do you notice the brightness of the lights on the Christmas tree? Does it bother you when they flash on and off? Can you smell air fresheners in a living room or perfume on someone at the other side of the room? Do you notice the fabric on the couch, or the volume of conversation? Children with Asperger’s do. All this sensory information can be overwhelming and confusing to them.

So what do you do?

  • Well, as best you can, try to arrange the holiday gathering to minimize some of the most obvious things that you know will trigger your child – and possibly cause a meltdown.
  • If they’re sensitive to fragrances, ask people not to wear perfume or use harsh cleaning chemicals right before the party. Avoid scented candles.
  • Try to have the gathering in a large enough room that all the noise of the conversation is spread about a bit.
  • Keep the music at a reasonable level.
  • Since not all sensory issues are avoidable, teach your child that it is okay to leave the room when they feel they are getting overwhelmed, and to go somewhere quiet to regroup.
  • Finally, teach them how to recognize when they are getting overwhelmed so you can head off the problem before it happens.

3. Not knowing the unspoken rules about how to act can lead to misunderstandings

We all learn pretty early in life about the unspoken rules – especially those that go with holiday gatherings. Expectations may confuse them. They may not know things such as the appropriate way to react to presents they get; when it is time to open presents; what to do if they don’t like the present. They may have trouble waiting for when it’s time to eat, or misinterpret things other people say to them. How much are you supposed to talk? Is it okay to talk to Uncle Al about the new worm farm you got? Why does he get so annoyed when you do?

Preparing in advance can alleviate these problems:

  • Again, the best way to prevent this type of confusion is to try to anticipate possible holiday scenarios, and talk with your child about them beforehand.
  • One way that you can do this is to try something called a social story. Take a notebook, and write and illustrate simple scenarios about what the child will be doing. So, for example, there could be a picture of a child opening presents, and at the bottom it says, “I will wait my turn while opening presents. I will not yell if I don’t like what I got. If I get overwhelmed by noise, I can go to another room.” Preparation is the key to success.

4. Tradition can be quite important for children with Asperger’s

If you’ve always done things a particular way, it might be good to continue doing it that way. The traditions and routines that go with a particular holiday are probably the one thing your child will like most.

5. If your child has food allergies, be on the watch for food they can’t eat

There will probably be quite a bit of it there. You will want to keep an eye on your child to see that they don’t eat food that will make them sick or have a negative effect on their behavior, and you’ll want to bring special food for them to eat. By all means, try to avoid a lot of sugar and candy. Many kids with Asperger’s don’t handle sugar well.

6. Have reasonable expectations

Don’t expect your child to be able to do things you know he or she can’t do, like spend a long time in a noisy room full of chattering adults without a break, or eat foods that

he has sensory aversions to just to show how grown up he is.

If your child does have a temper tantrum or a meltdown, remember that it is not your fault, and it is not his fault. He is not trying to ruin your celebration; he is just overwhelmed. Take him to a quiet room, speak in soothing terms, and let him calm down.

The purpose of these tips is not to change your gathering so much that you or your family can’t enjoy yourselves. But a little preparation does go a long way, and you want your child with Asperger’s to get as much pleasure out of the day as they can, in their own way. If these pointers are followed to help children with Asperger’s cope with the holidays, you’ll be well on your way to a calmer, more enjoyable holiday season for all.

Write by phần mềm gốc

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