The winter holiday season can be one of the most challenging times of the year for children with autism.
There are all sorts of anxiety provoking, unpredictable changes to usual daily life in the lead up to Christmas such as:
- changes to the environment at home, school and everywhere else with bright lights and decorations
- people wearing different clothes such as Christmas related costumes and outfits
- changes to school routine such as Christmas play rehearsals, outings and parties
- family visits and trips
- people acting different because they are excited about the holidays or just too cold because of the weather!
- presents (what is in that box!?)
In order to prepare for these changes, it can help to have a calendar which includes any upcoming events and changes. This is so the child can see when the events will take place. This can be made in any way that makes sense to the child- for example a written or picture calendar.
Here is an example made in Microsoft Word:
It is good practice to ensure that the calendar is marked off by the child each day to make it clear to them which day it is and what may be happening on the next day. This can be done by ticking or marking the day with a pen.
It is also important to make sure the school holidays are marked on the calendar, or to have a separate school holiday countdown calendar. This is to aid the transition between school and the holidays and to make it clear how many days are left in the holiday.
What a wonderful time of the year! Enjoy!