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


Autism – Will things improve for the autism community in 2017 or will they get worse and why? Take our poll

Will things improve for the autism community in 2017 or will they get worse and why?
Will things improve for the autism community in 2017 or will they get worse and why?

A few days ago we asked our followers on Twitter “Will things improve for the autism community in 2017 or will they get worse and why?”

So we thought we would ask the readers their opinion on this important question.

This is a new type of data collection method for us; so all you need to take part is to write your answers in the text box within the poll.

It’s that easy. And gives the chance for you to give your views in more detail!

Oh yes. Further comments can go in the comments section beneath this blog post!

Autism – Please help an Australian School Student with her research into Autism.

Autism research
Autism research

A couple of days ago we were asked by a Emma, a student at St Francis Xavier’s College in Australia, to help her find people to take part in a survey.

Emma writes ” I am currently completing Year 12 in Australia and for my major work I plan on creating a short film about Autism both generally and within Australia.

I was wondering if anyone with an ASD or a child with ASD would like to complete a survey for me. I am conducting a set of surveys as a part of my HSC Major Work for Industrial Technology – Multimedia. The purpose of these surveys is to:

1. investigate what people with Autism Spectrum Disorders would like other people to know about the disorder, specifically in Australia,

2. investigate what people would like to see in an informative video about Autism Spectrum Disorders

Each survey should only take 5-10 minutes to complete. All responses will be anonymous and confidential. The findings in the research will only be published in my folio for assessment purposes.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me create this.

Please feel free to share these links with other people who may like have an input.”

There are two surveys which you can take below.

1. For People with on the autism spectrum.

2. For the General Public.

It would be great if you could share with anyone who may be interested.

Many thanks in advance!

Wandering and children on the autism spectrum. Please help with this vital research project!

Wandering and autism
Wandering and autism
Wandering by children with Autism and other developmental disorders is a significant safety concern.  It is estimated that more than 250,000 children with disabilities wander away from adult supervision each year.   Few researchers have looked at this major issue, and there has been little focus on prevention measures and the impact that wandering concerns have on families.
Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York is conducting a major national study about wandering, and we very much want you to participate.
It takes just a few minutes to complete the anonymous, on-line questionnaire.  If enough families complete our questionnaire, then:
  • We will have the most representative study done to date – giving voice to as many families as possible
  • We can help guide families like yours about which prevention strategies seem to be most effective
  • We can document the impact that wandering has on families in terms of activities and household stress
Please click HERE to complete the survey.  You may also go to to take the survey, request a copy of our results, and be contacted regarding a follow-up research project related to wandering.


Are you a parent of a child with autism and have 15 minutes to spare? Please help the Karolinska Institutet with a survey

Karolinska Institutet - Autism Research
Karolinska Institutet – Autism Research
Earlier this week we were contacted by one of our readers who asked us to help find people to take a survey. Suzanne Axelsson, herself a mother with a  child on the spectrum told us “My husband is starting up some research into the sleep routines of children with autism. Sleep is an essential part of learning… and also social interaction… if we are tired it is harder to react appropriately to a given situation… and as I see with my own son, who has autism, he is depleted of his energy reserves sometimes rapidly by things that would hardly bother others… this means that good sleep hygiene is even more essential for my son”.
Her husband John Axelsson of the Karolinska Institutet , a leading medical university in Sweden, shared:
“Karolinska Institutet is currently conducting a study to explore the complex relation between autistic traits and sleep quality. 
While we know that sleep is often affected in this group, the underlying mechanisms remains largely unknown. 
If you have a child that has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or have autistic traits, you can contribute to this research by filling out a questionnaire about your child and his/her sleep, taking approximately 15 minutes. You will not be asked to provide any identifying information such as name or date of birth, meaning that your answers will remain strictly anonymous and confidential. The data will be used for developing better interventions to improve sleep quality and day time functioning in children with autism. 
Simply click on this link to participate ( but please make sure that you have 15 minutes to spend as you only can access the questionnaire once. 
Thank you very much for your time, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! 
Associate Prof. John Axelsson, 
Dept. Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet