Our child is autistic and also finds school breaks and holidays like Halloween really hard with being out of the usual routine, and loud noises with fireworks and places being busy with people… she can get so upset when we try to go visit family or friends and it makes it hard for us to enjoy the holidays as a result. Any advice on what to do here?
Welcome to Ask Robyn. Thank you so much for getting in touch.
It can be really tough trying to manage your children’s needs throughout the year, and then adding a layer of unstructured and not being sure of what to expect when the holidays do come around makes it harder. It sounds like you are really in tune to what upsets your child during the holidays and what aspects they find challenging.
You have mentioned being out of the usual routine can be hard for them. Would it help to develop a holiday schedule with them? With autistic children it can be the sense of “not knowing what’s next” can be hard. Maybe do a visual schedule for the days such as Monday morning will be home playing with our toys, and in the afternoon we will go to Granny’s house. Every little minute does not be accounted for but it allows the child to know what to expect and mentally prepare themselves.
Loud noises and fireworks in particular are hard to address, and these are some things that we cant predict and can go of in our neighbourhood without us expecting it which makes it harder. Does your child wear ear defenders/ head phones? They might be able to help block out some of the noises that come up if they are comfortable wearing them. It may help to come up with a plan for when fireworks do go off. Maybe identify a place you can relax together or a show that can be put on the tv?
Meeting with groups can also be overwhelming during the holidays, and it is important that you get to catch up with family and friends during this period. Depending on where you’re meeting it may be an idea to identify a quiet room for your child where they can take a break and relax. There are some cinemas or shopping centres around Ireland that provide autism friendly environments that could be worth looking into.
As I am also has a great range of supports and webinars and it may help to check them out: asiam.ie/parents/
Thanks again for getting in touch, we hope you have found this helpful. Thank you forgetting in touch we hope you have found this helpful. If you wish to discuss this further, the ISPCC’s Support Line service can be contacted by email to parenting[email protected] or between 9am – 1pm Monday – Friday by calling 01 522 4300.
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