For some children, the winter vacations are a magical time of year. When it comes to making childhood memories, there is no better place to start than with the holiday season.

Events with a lot of people, noise, and a lot of bright lighting, on the other hand, can be overwhelming for children with autism and their guardians. Other people’s perceptions of a child who doesn’t act in neurotypical ways can be even more challenging to deal with. When a child isn’t responding as quickly as other adults would want, they roll their eyes. When a child, who is “aged enough to behave,” has a meltdown, there are voices of concern.

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It’s easy to want to withdraw from the outside world with your autistic child. Sometimes, you may need to do this, but realize that you don’t necessarily have to.

Families with neurodivergent children can still participate in the festive cheer this year. Make this holiday season merry with these expert recommendations.

Avoid Crowds.

For many people, crowds are a source of stress. For children who suffer from sensory issues, this can be particularly true. Overwhelmed children are more prone to lash out, misbehave, or just stop responding altogether.

Getting away from the crowds is a simple answer. Consider taking a drive to visit some of the best Christmas light displays in your area instead of participating in town-wide parades and festivities. Large-scale drive-through light displays are even available in some sections of the country. Taking in the beauty of the glittering lights won’t involve braving the elements, dealing with a crowd, or putting up with any of those irritations.

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Visit holiday displays during off-peak hours. Visit museums or businesses with themed displays early thing in the morning when no one else is awake to catch themed window displays when stores are closed. To avoid the crowds at the city’s holiday market, head to your neighborhood nursery for a small fantasy of seasonal greenery and lights.

Invite “Santa” to come to your house instead of going to the mall to meet him. If you can’t get Santa to come to your house, look up “sensory-friendly Santas” online or in the newspaper. It’s possible to accomplish the same for a wide range of different establishments. Many communities have developed various specialized programs and activities to help children and people who suffer from sensory overload.

Make Modifications and Changes

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Musical and theater performances are popular with many families. Whether they’re spending the holidays at a loved one’s or hosting it, the festivities begin at dawn. They don’t conclude until the wee hours of the morning.

The possibilities for a more intimate holiday celebration abound. You’ll be OK if you keep an eye on your youngster in anticipation and during the festivities!

With your child, consider attending a smaller, local performance or concert that is more informal, less expensive, and shorter than a traditional musical or dancing event. It doesn’t matter if your child begins to melt down in the midst and you have to leave; you’ll know that your child received at least one taste of a traditional Christmas experience.

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Take your child shopping on short, easy outings. If you’d rather not do it all at once, take your youngster shopping for only one or two special gifts for friends and family members. For the sake of your child’s enjoyment, allow them to choose a gift for a family member or friend.

Consider your child’s requirements before making any obligations while organizing your real holiday day(s). It is possible to arrange adequately if you know in advance that your youngster can only handle a certain amount of time away from the family. Let your family know what you’re going to do, and stick to your guns.

Sit in the back of the building or near an exit if you usually attend religious services on Chanukah, Kwanza, or Christmas so that you have a simple and less disruptive “escape route.” You can just walk away if the service is too long or stimulating for your child.

Prioritize Your Child's Favorite Things.

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You may not be able to accommodate your child’s every whim, but you can demonstrate your support for their hobbies by incorporating some of their favorite activities into your festivities. Let them stay up late so they may watch a holiday edition of their favorite show or create a sensory-friendly setting in your home to help them relax.

Choose a few fun things for them to play with on the way to see family and when you get there. Irrespective of how you feel about your child’s interests, it’s vital to create memorable experiences for them. The Grinch and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are still popular with many adults.

Allow your child to decorate cookies in anyway they like. Make sure to include a few gifts your child will enjoy, regardless of age, on the packaging.

Make Sure You and Your Child Are Kind to Each Other.

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Neurodivergent children may not understand or appreciate what you do to make the holidays special, and this is perfectly okay. Family members and friends who don’t understand why your youngster isn’t happy or engaged can also be difficult to deal with.

You have no control over the actions or emotions of others, but you do have control over your own.

The holidays are not a time to be thanked or appreciated; they are a time to build relationships and make memories with loved ones. Having a few memorable moments to remember when the holidays are over is a great accomplishment.

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Make an effort to engage with your child on a level or around a subject that they are interested in. What if you could find a way to pique their interest in the things that attract them for just a few minutes? It’s possible that you will be surprised by the positive results.

If something is too much for you, don’t be afraid to walk away. While some family members and friends are great with autistic children, some aren’t so great. If you and your family fall into the second category, leaving early and returning home is perfectly acceptable. Even though the situation is uncomfortable, you are not bound to stay in it. 

Keep in mind that your child will thank you for it in the years to come, even if it costs you and your partner some stress now. The cost of a tiny quarrel is worth it for the sake of their pleasure and your own peace of mind.

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Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s quite acceptable to join in religious services, and carol sings even if your child is ineligible. Asking for a little help from friends or family so that you can recharge and spend the holidays in your own unique way is perfectly acceptable.

The holidays may be stressful for many individuals. They can also be a great moment to reflect on the last year and enjoy the tiny successes that have come your way.

You can also spend time with family. The price of connecting (or reconnecting) with what makes your child unique and amazing may be less cookies and rugelach prepared or cards mailed, but it is a tiny price to pay.