Autism: Tis the Season for Troubling Beahvior


Autism: Tis the Season for Troubling Behavior
The odds were totally against my son yesterday morning when he had that awful, no good, very bad day. Between us rearranging bedrooms, his stuffy nose, waking up at 3:30 in the morning, and then to top it off the house is in disarray due to decorating for Christmas. It was a tough day that ended with all feeling exhausted and not very festive for the time of year.
This time of the year is often rough on children with Autism. We suddenly change the look of our homes and rearrange things and then we get extra busy with our schedules. And to top it off, we eat different things that we do not normally eat. There are a lot of changes in a short amount of time, and just as suddenly as it came, it goes away.

Here are some tips to help your child during this time of the year:
1) Give your child warning before putting up decorations; the best is a few days before. If your child struggles with verbal communication, consider taking a picture after you decorate so next year you can show your child the picture to help him/her prepare.
2) Let your child help with the decorations. You may even consider putting a few decorations in his/her bedroom. (Be careful to not overdue it).

3) It might be helpful to decorate in stages to help your child slowly adjust. Maybe one day you decorate the tree, then another day lights, etc.

4) Keep your house as neat and tidy as you can while putting up the decorations. Extra boxes and messes around the house can add frustration to your child.
5) When you get ready to take down the decorations, give your child plenty of warning, and consider taking them down slowly.

Above all, be sensitive to your child’s needs. Just remember there is a lot to process this time of the year for your child, just like there is for you. Communicate with your child about his/her feelings and emotions during this time of the year. If your child appears distracted or upset about the decorations, consider finding a quiet spot for your child that is left alone from decorations to give your child a spot to go to that is “safe” from disruption.

Enjoy your holidays and treasure this special time with your family!

Jen Edwards, MA LMHCA