Enjoying the Winter Holidays with a Child on the Spectrum

If you have a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be wondering if he or she can still enjoy the holiday season. Fortunately, the answer is yes! Children with ASD can still enjoy all of the warmth, fun, and excitement of the holidays—as long as you know how to manage the experience for them to ensure that it is positive. Here are some tips to keep in mind.  

Consider alternatives to shopping with your kids.  

Children who have ASD may react negatively to the noise and tumult that comes with the territory of Christmas shopping. Instead of taking your child along on a trip that may be upsetting or unsettling, you might want to think about leaving your child with a sitter or respite worker, a family member, or even doing most of your shopping online.  

Plan your decorations carefully.  

While children may enjoy decorating a tree or putting up lights with you, it’s important to supervise them at all times. Keep in mind that flashing lights can be distracting or even upsetting for children with ASD. You may want to choose lights that emit a steady glow, and you might want to emphasize calming colors, such as light blue.  

Be prepared for holiday trips.  

For many families, the holiday season means traveling. If you are going to be taking a trip with your child, it’s important to take some precautions in order to avoid sensory overload. Bring plenty of toys and games to keep your child from getting restless, keep your child’s dietary preferences and needs in mind, and make sure you have a quiet, safe place to take your child whenever he or she needs a break.  


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