Holiday Family Get-togethers with Autistic Children
Holidays are a great excuse to get together with your extended family. As much fun as it is to see my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, it can be pretty stressful too. This is especially true for families of autistic children. There are ways to help make family gatherings an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Before You Go to a Family Gathering
You need to have three conversations before you go. First, talk with the host relatives. You should discuss any major stressors that could be lessened or eliminated. Discuss any “watch-outs” such as breakables, pools, or particular areas of the house that should be a “no kids” zone.
Explain behaviors that may take place and how you normally work with them. Reassure them you will be actively parenting throughout the visit, and that your child’s actions shouldn’t be taken personally.
Finally, find discuss a space for a quiet area that you and your child can go sit if things get very stressful.
Next, talk with your spouse, friend, or any other adult your child is familiar with and trusts that will be going with you to the event. To make sure both of you have a good time designate the “adult on duty”. Split the day up between yourselves and communicate what is important to each of you for the gathering.
Your final conversation should be with your child. Tell them about the gathering. You can sit down and show them pictures of who will be there and tell them a little about each family member so they can get familiar with them. Talk about the activities that will happen at the get-together. And talk about the quiet place you set aside so they know there is a quiet place they can go to if things get to be too much.
Enjoying the Family Get-together Together
When you arrive, take the time to introduce your child to the relatives, and then the two of you go set aside his or her quiet place. When it comes time to eat, make sure you’ve brought plenty of the foods your child enjoys.
Employ active-parenting and be vigilant. Sometimes hosts aren’t always keen to what may not be child safe. Ask if you can push those items out of reach.
Finally, use the prior discussion with your companion to switch off at the appropriate moments to enjoy yourself. Make sure you get what you want out of the event.
After your Family Get-together
A couple of days after the celebration have chat with your child on the family gathering. Discuss what he or she liked and what they did not like. It should be a fun conversation and will give you some good insight into their thoughts—you may be surprised at what they thought was the best parts of the day!
I enjoy my family celebrations so much and I hope this helps you and your family enjoy them too! Do you have any creative tips for going to family gatherings? I would love to hear them. Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.blog comments powered by Disqus