Don’t forget the power of visuals in unpredictable holiday times!
Visuals have many advantages….
Simply put, holidays mean off-routine times, and feelings of anxiety are already often so prevalent with ASD. ****Anxiety LOVES routines.**** Visuals, and phrases such as “first/then,” are helpful in creating an added sense of predictability, structure, and for instilling a sense of routine and facilitating easier transitions; hopefully we can help lessen intense feelings of anxiety and avoid complete ASD overwhelm.
For ASD children, the fear over what is next and the fear of the unknown can be overwhelmingly intense in so many different ways. It can quickly lead to further increased feelings of anxiety, and meltdowns etc may ensue…..
ALL children thrive on structure, routine, set boundaries, and reasonable expectations from their parents and guardians.
There is an ongoing feeling of comfort and safety by having these measures in place.
Some degree of routine helps everyone, and, for those with anxiety and/or social anxiety as part of their diagnosis/diagnoses, holidays can be potentially very challenging and off-putting (to say the least). One often effective way to help lessen the stress and anxiety for our ASD loved ones and families, in unpredictable times, is by consistent use of visual schedules:
PECS (picture exchange communication system), reward charts, wall charts/schedules/calendars, social stories, and of course, communication devices/tablets.
Be patient, kind, understanding, and set realistic expectations, goals, and guidelines, that involve being fully prepared with comforting activities, familiar foods and snacks, and other preferred items, AND, be prepared to leave social situations (whenever necessary). Don’t be afraid to stand your own ground and be prepared to protect your loved one, yourself, and your immediate family by leaving at the first sign of escalating drama, argument, potential pain and/or judgment over your parenting or your child’s behaviour!
Remember not to take this behaviour personally too, as it’s typically not a reflection on you at all (even if you feel that it is). ”
Cover Photo by wikiHow
Source: Autism Supermoms