The MOST Important Tips You Need to Help Your Child This Thanksgiving

The holidays can be so stressful for families and kids affected by autism. Let’s face it, you want to be excited to have a few days to relax, kick back, and enjoy your time off work. However, you most likely have a huge lump in your throat thinking about how you are going to get through another holiday season.

Here are some of the most common gripes that I hear from parents:

  • My kid won’t eat anything but chicken nuggets. My family totally judges me and thinks that I should MAKE him eat turkey. I’d like to see them try to make him eat anything he doesn’t want to eat.
  • My child won’t sit still during dinner. He sits as long as his food lasts, and then he’s off playing video games.
  • Without fail, whenever we go to someone’s house, my child has a meltdown. So, this year, we are not going anywhere.
  • I am not looking forward to hearing everyone’s opinion about how I should raise my child. They think that he is having a meltdown because he is stubborn. They just don’t get that his behavior is because of a breakdown in communication or because he is overstimulated.
  • All I want this year is to have a Thanksgiving meal without an argument, meltdown, headache, or judgement.

You are totally not alone.

Here are a few tips to help you through this time of year.

1. Take a deep breath. It may sound ridiculous, but breathing helps to center you, calm you, and remind you where you are when the world around you is spinning.

2. Know that you are not alone. What you are going through is pretty much the new normal.

3. Take this day minute by minute. Try not to get ahead of yourself, but enjoy the little moments of connection.

4. Recognize that even if your family is trying to tell you that they know best, you are your child’s most important teacher and advocate. You can either smile and say, “Thank you so much for trying to help,” or you can drop the plate on the floor and storm out of the room. I trust you to make the decision that serves you best. ☺

5. Have an escape plan for both you and your child. Whether this is a quiet place in your home, going out to your car at someone else’s home, climbing into a tent or sleeping bag, or taking an extra long pause in the bathroom, have a plan in place before Thanksgiving dinner. Let your child in on the secret hiding place, so he knows where he can take a break too (Of course, if the quiet place is your car, make sure your child knows that he can’t go out there unsupervised.).

6. Write down the rules and the schedule of the day’s events so that your child knows what to expect. Remember, he thrives off of routine. This day is a little bit different, so set him up for success.

7. Provide your child with some sensory movement activities before dinner so that he can shake his sillies out.

8. If your child is a picky eater, have a special meal ready just for him, so that he can still join you at the dinner table.

9. Remember that sensory challenges are real and do your best to not surround your child with unnecessary sensory stimuli. Do not light smelly candles, play loud music, have the television constantly playing in the background, or make your child sit smooshed between lots of family members.

10. And finally, repeat after me. I’ve got this. I am going to try my best to enjoy this time with family and friends. I know my child best, but I understand that others are just trying to help. I’ve totally got this.

We only get one Thanksgiving in 2018, so let’s do our best to enjoy it.

What is Thanksgiving like for your family? Please share below.

  • Patricia Shepherd
    Posted at 08:01h, 17 November Reply

    My husband and I go to my sister’s who lives about 30 miles away. I’m blessed that she’s so supportive in that she asks what Brandon (who’s on the spectrum) likes to eat and tries to make those things for him. As for sensory overload, my husband takes Brandon outside the home or to a quieter place in the house so Brandon doesn’t get overwhelmed.

  • Brenda
    Posted at 09:44h, 17 November Reply

    Fortunately, Alyona doesn’t mind the holidays and isn’t too overwhelmed. We are cooking and she can go to her room for a break or to play. She may choose to do so and that is okay.

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