Supporting Children on the Autism Spectrum During Holidays

Children during the holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, supporting children on the autism spectrum during holidays can bring about unique challenges. Sensory overload, changes in routine, and unfamiliar social situations can be overwhelming for these children. In this blog post, we’ll explore some thoughtful strategies to make the holiday season enjoyable for everyone, including children with autism.

Create a Visual Schedule:

One of the key characteristics of autism is a preference for routine. The holiday season often disrupts the regular schedule, leading to stress for children on the spectrum. To ease this transition, consider creating a visual schedule. Use images or a calendar to help your child understand upcoming events and changes in routine.

Prepare for Sensory Sensitivities:

Many children with autism have sensory sensitivities. The holiday environment, with its bright lights, loud music, and crowded spaces, can be overwhelming. Bring comfort items such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, or a favorite blanket to provide a sense of security. Additionally, plan breaks in quieter spaces to allow your child to decompress.

Social gatherings during the holidays often involve a set of social norms and expectations. Before attending events, communicate clearly with your child about what to expect. Role-play social scenarios, practice greetings, and discuss appropriate behaviors. Providing a social script can help your child navigate interactions more comfortably.

Involve Them in Preparations:

Engage your child in holiday preparations to create a sense of involvement and anticipation. Whether it’s decorating the house, making holiday treats, or choosing gifts, involving them in the process can make the holiday experience more enjoyable and meaningful.

Educate Others:

Family and friends may not fully understand the needs of a child on the autism spectrum. Take the opportunity to educate those around you about your child’s preferences and sensitivities. Share information about autism, and let them know how they can support and interact with your child in a positive way.

Offer a Quiet Retreat:

Designate a quiet and comfortable space where your child can retreat if the holiday festivities become overwhelming. This safe haven provides a place for them to relax and regroup when needed.

Celebrate in Small Groups:

Large gatherings can be intimidating for children with autism. Consider celebrating holidays in smaller groups or hosting more intimate gatherings. This can create a more comfortable environment for your child to engage with others.

Another great insight into supporting children on the autism spectrum during the holiday season, I recommend exploring a great article provided by Autism Speaks.


As we celebrate the holidays, it’s essential to ensure that every child, including those on the autism spectrum, feels included and supported. By understanding their unique needs and implementing thoughtful strategies, we can create a joyful and inclusive holiday season for all. Remember, a little understanding and preparation go a long way in making this time of year truly magical for everyone.

For more information, please feel free to contact us.