We are all very excited to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, our favorite time of the year to enjoy the company of family and friends, indulge (or overindulge) in some of our favorite comfort food, and to reflect on everything we are grateful for. As with any other holiday, sometimes children with special needs can require some extra support to adapt to the change in routine and be fully included in the fun and festivities. Here are a few simple tips for parents to help your child join in the celebration this Thanksgiving.
- Social stories can be helpful tools to prepare for a variety of special events or situations in which your child’s typical routine is disrupted. To help your child be ready for the holiday activities, you can read a social story about what to expect during Thanksgiving (not going to school, visitors coming over, early dinner, etc.)
- It’s fairly common for children with autism to have narrow food preferences or restrictive diets. While the traditional Thanksgiving meal is the highlight of the day for many, if you know your child is opposed to trying new foods, it may be a good idea to pack a favorite meal that you know your they will enjoy. This way they will be able to be a part of the dinner and enjoy it as much as everyone else.
- Whether traveling to a family member’s home or inviting family to yours, you could spend time with your child looking through photo albums or videos of family members or friends, so they know which guests they can expect to see on Thanksgiving.
- Whatever the setting for your holiday festivities, consider whether the environment could be potentially overstimulating for your child. It might be helpful to think about a quiet room or area of the house where your child could go to relax if they need a few minutes away from all the noise and commotion.
We hope these simple pointers help your Thanksgiving celebrations go smoothly for the whole family. If you have a child who’s currently in therapy, please feel free, as always, to reach out to your child’s BCBA for more detailed and specific advice about any difficult situations your child may struggle with at home. And check out our blog and social media posts for more helpful tips, as well as fun activities going on in your area.