December 26, 2014

During the holidays families come together. For larger families, this can mean a large group of people. This can be overwhelming for children with autism.

How can you help your child participate in holiday activities, enjoy spending time with the other children in the family and avoid stress and melt-downs during this festive season ?

A carefully organized schedule and planned activities will help your child stay calmer and enjoy the holidays more.

One mom who wishes to remain anonymous shared the following with the Autism Daily Newscast

« We have many holiday traditions as a family. We have three children, one who has autism. He has a special holiday visual schedule that he helps prepare in the days leading up to the holidays. We have been doing this for three years and now he looks forward to preparing and using it each year. It explains where we will be going each day, who we will see and what we will eat.

When he is participating in games with the other children in the family, one family member is on-call at all times to structure the game, help him to participate and supervise. »

Make your visual schedules fun and easy to use. Have your child participate in creating the visual schedule. Invite siblings to take part in this fun family tradition as well.

For games with a group of children, select one or two simple steps to emphasize in the game based on your child’s skill level. Make sure that your child understands clearly what he needs to do in the game and how to enjoy it so that he does not feel frustrated or overwhelmed when playing with the other children.

Give him a way to ask to leave the game if he wants. This could be by saying « finished » or using a picture to show he wants to leave the game if your child is non-verbal.

Preparing simple, organized and fun activities for your child with autism during the holidays will help your child and your whole family stay relaxed and happy during this joyful season.


This article was originally published on December 23, 2013


About the author 

Alix Strickland

Alix Strickland, BCaBA is an applied behavior specialist and founder and director of the Le Chemin ABA VB Learning Center for children with autism and other special needs in Paris, France. She is known as the « Green Behavior Specialist » because she uses natural cleansers and organic foods at her center in addition to making a lot of her own DIY, upcycled therapy materials. She coaches families and professionals in using ABA and Verbal Behavior strategies in France and abroad. Her website is

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