How to have an autism-friendly Christmas

Christmas can be a magical time, but if you have an autistic family member, there’s extra pressure to get it right. These simple pointers may help:

  • Have a designated place to relax and retreat, especially if you plan to have guests. You could even label it as a ‘quiet room’.
  • Be clear about when friends and family may visit. Write up a schedule and stick it on the fridge or somewhere it is easily accessible.
  • Use advent calendars to your advantage – a countdown can be really beneficial to make people aware of upcoming events.
  • Some families opt for a one-day Christmas, when decorations and lights are put up and taken down on the same day.
  • Alternatively, how about decorating a designated ‘Christmas room’ to limit the impact of changes to other rooms in the house.
  • Look at the world through the eyes of your loved one – what aspects of Christmas do they enjoy? There are no rules – Christmas can be whatever works for you and your family.
  • Have some Christmas-free time away from the festivities – this can be helpful to reduce anxiety. A quiet stroll in the park or feeding the ducks could help, if this is what you normally do to relax.
  • Father Christmas can cause anxiety. Prepare your loved one by showing them pictures, or perhaps Father Christmas could drop off presents at a family member’s house instead.
  • Find out about local events, such as autism-friendly grottos and pantomimes. Decide which events your loved one would enjoy and book in advance.
  • Christmas dinners can be individual, so stick to what you know will be popular. Who says it has to be roast turkey?
  • On Christmas Day, try and keep to a routine that suits your family. If you need to make changes, then prepare in advance, using photos or social stories to explain what is happening.
  • Christmas is about enjoying yourself. It’s your time, too, so always ask for help from family and friends if you need it.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Download our guide on how to have
an autism-friendly Christmas.

Autism Together’s Children and Family Service offers parenting courses, social groups, activities for little ones and support for families.

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