Autism – What tips do you have for supporting autistic children through the holiday season?

Autism and the holiday season
Autism and the holiday season

What tips do you have for supporting autistic children through the holiday season?

Which was the question we asked our Twitter followers and Facebook followers last week.  I have to confess an ulterior motive.  Out ten year old (who is on the autism spectrum) is not great at Christmas so any advice is rather handy.

Diet is important with autism so Janet’s advice above was very useful.  Has anyone else tried Stevia?  What do you think? 


Torrie told us “My brother tends to go backward as holidays mess with his routine, we allow for the extra stress on him (eg. Dont make a fuss over bed wetting and allow for his change of mood) Understanding that for the majority of the year he is up dressed in his uniform, same shirt, shorts, shoes, socks, same breakfast time and choices then out on the bus, being home all day is a challenge for him. We just be as supportive as we can and try to give him something. To do each day. Also having food available at the time as school breaks can help him be more relaxed too. :”  Indeed quite a few of our readers felt that Christmas and the holiday season threw up quite few problems!

Peace and Quiet

Yes pretty obvious but many of us (that means me) forget these basic rules when the sherry is cracked open!

On Twitter we were told!


While on Facebook Susanna suggested “Allow them quiet time to themselves. Give them time to open gifts. Or allow them to open some gifts ahead of time. Encourage them to participate with family, but don’t force it.” Tracy went further “Just be respectful of their space and have a quiet space for them away from everything if need. And beaware of their body language.” The body language is something to look out and it is a great point!

“Make everything as quiet as possible IDC I am not putting up my tree its been a rough year, and if you have to no matter what anyone says have your family visit you don’t go out of your way for anyone if you know its gonna be hard on your child period feelings may be hurt #sorrynotsorry”. So do think of sensory issues.

Use social stories to help prepare!

If you have not done so before do have a look at Trisha Katkin’s ideas for writing social stories. You can check out her ideas and suggestions here!

But preparation is mentioned by Richard “As someone with Autism, I like to maintain a routine as much as possible, my mom tells my other relatives to limit their interactions with me, esp. talking to me, wishing me Happy Holidays, sending cards, etc., and I also dislike Christmas music, so I listen to some of my favorite songs on YouTube when I have the time.)”

Autism Awareness Christmas Tree Decoration
Autism Awareness Christmas Tree Decoration
Of course other people take a different view have a different perspective. “My boy is very adaptable, so what I will write might not be good for everyone. That said, a place to go that is quiet helps a lot. He likes water, so I fill up a sink halfway and put some sensory fidgets in it so he can de-escalate that way. Heck, I like it too. Another thing is letting him sit near the tree and let others know that he will approach them if he wants to talk. Headphones aren’t used often but are available. Our lives has been chaotic and unfortunately he has had to adjust. So schedules aren’t always an option. Luckily he gets it. If need be, we take a quick walk, or if he absolutely cannot take another gathering, we stay home and watch movies.” according to Ruth.

Indeed going with the flow was a theme from a couple of our readers.  Kirstin said “My aspie goes with the flow because we’ve never let her get stuck in routines. The real world can’t always have routines so it’s best to throw a speedup in the path now and then. She goes with us to all family gatherings and other holiday stuff.” And “I have never planned my Christmas around my autistic son. We just go with the flow. He never eats with us anyway so the dinner is no problem as we make him his own foods. We do always make sure he comes out to be social and talk to everyone. My son has come such a long way because we go with the flow and push him out of his comfort zone. He is an amazing kid, and handles all events and transitions well now. I don’t treat my son like he is autistic and I have very high expectations for him.” came over from Karyn.

No worries and do a  bit less

Interesting some of our readers felt the holiday season is no biggie (as Buffy) would say! Ruth suggested “We no longer feel the need to do everything. We keep the same routines as much as possible and only do a few extra things at my granddaughter’s pace. This means less decorations around the house, less visiting, less holiday activities, but more immediate family time and truthfully a more enjoyable and less stressful holiday season for all of us.”

Sensory overload

David told us “Whatever sensory overload they struggle with exposure of it should be limited. In this season where all our senses get greatly bombarded the harder the one to deal with should be what you focus on limiting”

“This year I’m gradually decorating the house for Christmas as my son has found it all a bit too much in previous years. Sensory calming lighting too I’ve found also helps my son feel calm xxxx and try not for it to be all too much having a quiet room also helps with my son x” said Estelle.


Finally Nicky gave us these wise words “Don’t force a tradition that makes them uncomfortable for the sake of your own nostalgia”.

Over to you

We hope you find these tips of use this holiday season.

Do you have any you would like to share with others.  If so please add your thoughts to the comments section below.

Many thanks in advance