Holiday Tips For Families
Living With Autism



The holiday period can be a stressful time foro those on the autism spectrum because it is a breach in their daily routine. However, if we anticipate the holidays and what they entail before they arrive, the person with autism can be made more comfortable and at ease--ensuring joy for all throughout the holidays!

At ASA, all tips are transferable--pass them along! These tips can be easily adapted by a parent, a friend, a sibling, or any family member. Try them out with your loved one on the spectrum. A few tips can really pay off big.


"Everyone in the car!" Starting Off on Successful Outings

  •   To help day trips run more smoothly, travel in two cars so that one person can return home with your loved one on the autism spectrum if he/she gets distressed.
  •   Eat before leaving home or bring food with you.
  •   Bring a quiet toy, like a calculator, to a restaurant, during religious services or other social activity.
"We are going to Grandma's!" Tips for Social Gatherings
  •   When going to large social gatherings, arrive early to let the person on the autism spectrum get accustomed to the growing number of people.
  •   If he/she becomes distressed during a social gathering, pick a quiet place to go or take him out for a walk.
  •   When visiting someone's home, ask to remove breakables from reach; think carefully about visiting those who refuse to accommodate your request.
  •   Bring a preferred item, favorite toys or stuffed animals to a family gathering or other social event.
  •   Before going to a family event, look at individual pictures of family members and teach him/her their names.
  •   Before going to a social event, use "social stories" and practice simple courtesy phrases and responses to questions, either verbal, with pictures, or gestures ("How are you?" "I am fine." "How is school?" "Good.")
  •   Let trusted others spend time with your child if they volunteer.
  •   Ask for help if you need it. Families and friends are often eager to participate.
"Do we have to go to the mall???" Shopping Without Stress
  •   To help your loved one with autism get used to malls, go early before the stores open. Walk around, get familiar with the building, buy a snack when the stores open, and leave. Extend the amount of time at the mall each time you go.
  •   When shopping, be positive and give small rewards, such as a peice of candy, for staying for you.
  •   To teach your child not to touch things when shopping, visit a clothing store or another store with unbreakable objects; this gives him/her an opportunity to model behavior and minimize risk.
  •   When shopping, bring a helper to have an extra set of eyes and hands until you are confident of a safe experience.
  •   Provide headphones or earplugs to the person with autism spectrum to moderate the noise and activity around them.


"Going to Worship Services"
  •   Talk with the worship leader about what he/she might expect and how the congregation might support the family.
  •   Arrange for a friend or neighbor to come with you to stay with siblings should the person with autism spectrum need to leave during the worship service.
  •   Bring a quiet object of concentration, such as a rubber band, pictures, books, or an object of visual focus, can be vry helpful, particularly if it has religious significance to enhance the worship experience.
  •   Have the child or adult on the spectrum help out. Depending on their ability, they can:
     --Greet people with a smile, and hand out service bulletins.
     --Gather up the bulletins and papers left in the pews after the service, restoring order to the sanctuary.
     --Assist in holiday volunteer activities of the congregation, such as the delivery of cards, toys or food.