The holidays don’t always help with autism. Sometimes, they can cause major disruptions for your child and make the rest of the family feel less festive. New Year’s Eve can easily be the most disruptive and triggering for children anywhere on the autism spectrum. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time. You just need to be ready and have a plan in place so everyone can enjoy the holiday. Here are a few great ways to help children with autism ring in the New Year with a smile.
Change When You Celebrate
Staying up until midnight doesn’t always help with autism. In fact, it can cause major meltdowns, especially if your loved one has a set schedule (and bedtime) they keep. This means you may need to change when you celebrate. Instead of staying up until midnight, celebrate in a different time zone. If you have young kids, you can even bump your celebration back to noon or early in the evening.
Understand Their Triggers
Fireworks are fine for some kids on the autism spectrum, but they can lead to overstimulation in others. Before you decide to ring in the new decade with poppers or go to a city-sponsored firework show, make sure your child will enjoy the experience. If they don’t mind crowds, grab a pair of earplugs to help block the noise. If you think they’ll be uncomfortable, stay home and have a quieter celebration.
Have a Normal Night
Sometimes, any change in routine can be tough. Judge your child’s mood and see what they’re feeling up to on New Year’s Eve. If they’re not comfortable breaking their routine, don’t change it. Forcing the issue won’t make anyone happy and definitely won’t help with autism symptoms. If your child still wants to do something special, but doesn’t want to leave the house, you can always put on a movie and have a family night in.
Make Their Favorite Snack
Food is a wonderful way to mark a special occasion. Use it to your advantage! Make your child’s favorite snack or meal to celebrate and explain why you’re doing it. If they’re up to it, they can even help in the preparation. You can also start a new tradition where you make a particular dish to ring in New Year’s Day each year.
Embrace the Chaos
Expectations can change when you have a child on the spectrum. Instead of trying to fit them into a mold or forcing them to participate in specific activities, go with the flow. You can still encourage them to do new things without pushing them so far beyond their comfort zone that it causes a meltdown. Take a deep breath, smile, and have fun. Your child will, too.