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Making the Most of the Holidays for Your Family and Your Son/Daughter on the Autism Spectrum
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By
Indiana Resource Center for Autism
Making the Most of the Holidays

TIP 5: Teach your child how to leave a situation and/or how to access support when an event becomes overwhelming.

For example, if you are having visitors, have a space set aside for the child as his/her safe/calm space. The individual should be taught ahead of time that they should go to their space when feeling overwhelmed. This self-management tool will serve the individual into adulthood. For children who are not at that level of self-management, develop a signal or cue for them to show when they are getting anxious and prompt them to use the space. For children with more significant challenges, practice using this space in a calm manner at various times prior to your guest's arrival. Take the child into the room and engage them in calming activities (e.g., play soft music, rub his/her back, turn down the lights, etc.). Then when you notice the child becoming anxious, calmly remove him/her from the anxiety-provoking setting immediately and take him/her into the calming environment.
 
TravelTIP 6: If you are traveling for the holidays, make sure you have the child's favorite foods, books or toys available.

Having familiar items readily available can help to calm stressful situations. Also prepare them via social stories or other communication systems, for any unexpected delays in travel. If your son/daughter is flying for the first time, it may be helpful to bring your child to the airport in advance and to help them become accustomed to airports and planes. Use social stories and pictures to rehearse what will happen when boarding and flying.
 
TIP 7: Know your child and how much noise and activity they can tolerate.

If you detect that a situation may be becoming overwhelming, help your child find a quiet area in which to regroup. And there may be some situations that you simply avoid (e.g., crowded shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving).

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