Monday, December 1, 2008

Predictable Bubbles in the Chaos

Over the holiday time of year, life becomes less predictable for children with autism.  There are more social expectations, routines are altered and parents, particularly mothers, may be very busy.  All this is hard on a child who loves routines and predictability. Parents have less time to be proactive.  This is a recipe for anxiety meltdowns--and children with autism are not the only ones who are vulnerable. 

You may want to sit down and create an intentional holiday plan for your child that includes more visual supports (picture schedules or stories about what is going to happen when the routine changes).  You may also want to add some little daily rituals like playing the same music at dinnertime each evening, putting lotion on your child's feet each night before bed, spending a silly few minutes each night together sending everyone's dirty laundry down the laundry chute.  These are little predictable bubbles in the chaos that will help your child feel grounded and secure.  It does not matter so much what you do but some new little rituals will reduce your child's anxiety around the inevitable interruptions in routine that happen at holiday time.

May this be the least stressful December ever for your family!

1 comment:

slpmn said...

Children often can get overwhelmed by all of the sensory experiences of a big holiday gathering. Having scheduled times where your child can get away from all the noise and bustle may be beneficial. This could be done by giving your child an "I need a break" card or using a timer.

It doesn't need to be a long break. Over Thanksgiving, my 9 month old was being very fussy at a family gathering. I took her upstairs to nurse, thinking that she was hungry. As soon as she had me to herself, she perked right up and smiled and I could sense her relief. We played in the bedroom for ten minutes or less and then we returned to the party.