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Spending the Holidays with a Child with Autism

Spending the Holidays with a Child with Autism


The holidays can be fun, exciting, and filled with lots of activities, especially right here in New York City. Some of those can be loud and crowded, too. When you have a child with special needs, this time of year can be challenging. While I want my son to be part of it, not everything works for him and his needs. After lots of trial and error, I have figured out the best way to make him feel included, while hopefully having him understand what is going on. I do have to work extra hard to make this happen but I know it is worth it in the end.

I will also be taking photos and creating a holiday memory album for him. This will be a great way for him to look back at all of the activities he did. Then, I can pull it out in future years to hopefully help get him in the holiday spirit!
 

See the Sights

There is so much to see this time of year in New York City from the giant Christmas trees and menorahs, to the department store holiday windows and ice skaters. We need to get out early to do this since crowds are difficult for my son. The earlier it is, the easier it is to navigate these areas. This gives him the maximum opportunity to enjoy this activity and we can take our time and really soak it in.
 

Bake Together

Baking at this time of year is extra fun! There are so many great choices of delicious foods. Luckily, this happens to be something my son loves to do. Around the holidays, I show him pictures of a few different ideas and let him pick what he would like us to make. I have him help me from start to finish. The options I give him are fairly quick recipes, as his attention span only lasts so long.
 



Choose Some Gifts

Unlike most kids his age, there are not many gifts that interest him. This is tough once family members start asking for ideas of what to get him. I sit with him as we scroll through Amazon and try to find things he might want, and we write down a list (any opportunity to work on handwriting, as well). I know he’ll be excited when the time comes to open these up, even if he did pick them all out.
 

Make Holiday Cards

Holiday cards start arriving pretty much the day after Thanksgiving. I make sure I show each and every one to my son before I hang them on the wall. We read them together and look at the pictures. Making our card is not always easy, but we manage to get a nice photo every year. I show him the card once it is finished and ask him to tell me some people he would like us to send it to, and of course we make a list.
 

Have Family Time

Since we don’t have much immediate family close to us, we FaceTime and make a lot of phone calls. My son is not big on talking on the phone, but especially around this time of year, I really try to get him to talk, even if it is just two or three words. I also feel it is important for him to hear the voices of family and let them wish him Happy Holidays.


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Dana Greenberg

Author:

 Dana Greenberg is a mom of twins living in Manhattan. Dana's site The Autism Club was created as a way to connect moms who have kids with special needs, like her son Jack--who has autism--and offer them a space to tell their stories. You can follow Dana on Twitter @theautismclub or on Facebook @theautismclub.

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