By Krisshonda Odufuwa, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA,m SLP-Assistant
October- Trick or Treat?
October kicks off the start of many things children on the autism spectrum love: costumes, trick or treating, monsters, parties with activities. Big box store chains begin to sell all things Halloween much in advance than the week itself! Th is is an exciting time for some children as they get to finally indulge in all the candy they want.
Before the Halloween season consider:
1. Does your child avoid eye contact?
If so, directing your child to maintain eye contact when expressing “trick or treat” can be made more comfortable if you either work with him before he says, Trick or Treat!” or you create a sign your child can show the person at the door with a written statement that your child loves the “game” but he/she is nonverbal or shy with others.
2. Does your child prefer to wear specific clothing?
If so, reconsider making him/her wear a Halloween costume he’s chosen or just go as him or herself. Parents of your child’s friends will understand particularly if you let them know prior to the event.
3. If your child prefers eating goldfish, chips, or gummy bears, replace the candy with specific favs that he or she loves to give to others who come to your door. Give your neighbors the things he likes prior to your going out so he gets the goodies he likes (which you previously arranged.)
4. Ditch the scary costumes and decorations others might like and fill your home with your child’s favorites instead.
Parents, it’s possible to make Halloween individualized for your child. Let’s create loving memories!
Thanksgiving: The food
Cheers to the season of thankfulness and giving. It can be a season that kicks off extended family visits, long car rides and plane rides for some, but, at its heart, it’s the food. Thanksgiving generally means you communicate with other family members because some require preparing specific meals or, even, a plan for a special meal service to be delivered hot and ready for your child, relatives, or friends.
If you have guests staying the night, prepare your child by showing him/her pictures of who will visit and where they will sleep. A social story is perfect for this!
Reduce the demand for your child to greet guests as this can be overwhelming for some children with autism.
Extended car rides or plane rides provide great opportunities for social stories! Some airports allow you to engage in a pretend take-off simulation, so, yes, you can practice before the big day!
Christmas: Gift Giving
Christmas is an extended season of giving, catch-up with family, and food! For some children Christmas brings heightened sensory aversions due to Christmas lights, music, and, often, relatives. Christmas can be the most chaotic nightmare for your child. Consider the following during Christmas:
Instead of purchasing toys that your child will never play with, consider sensory items such as vibrating pillows, compressions vest or even a new chewy! Spread the word and let family members know your child’s interests.
Consider decreasing the demand of stating “Hi” to multiple guests as they arrive.
Allow your child to have alone time in an environment in which s/he feels safe.
Avoid extra lights and music, as the combination can be adverse and increase behaviors to your special child. As a parent/caregiver, you get the luxury to be your child’s first teacher: teaching them that it’s ok to be who they are. Advocating for them is vital. We are all different and that’s what makes us unique, valuable, and individual!
Krisshonda Odufuwa is a wife, mother, board-certified behavior analyst, speech-language pathologist assistant, autism expert, speaker, and writer. Krisshonda holds a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis on applied behavior analysis. With 10 years of experience walking hand-in-hand with families with autism in the family, Krisshonda displays compassionate, relatable, realistic, and evidence-based strategies that are proven to improve the lives of families who love someone with autism. Connect with Blue Melo on the following social media platforms: Instagram @bluemelobehaviorchange, Tik Tok @Bluemelobehaviorchange, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.