Happy Holiday Season!
We hope everyone is staying warm, healthy, and safe. We're nearing the end of December which means the holidays are here and in full force! Between taking time off, the kids being on break from school, and family affairs, we all know how busy and stressful this time of year can be. As our final blog post of the year, we wanted to give some holiday advice, tips and give light to reconnect with yourselves as we approach 2022.
Reducing Anxiety and Angst
Now that the holiday season is in full swing, trying to get everyone together and on the same page can be a stressor, especially with trying to deal with all of the other things life throws at us. We found some tips from Boston Children's Hospital that we thought could be very beneficial to parents of autistic and other similar diagnosed kids to help ease the anxiety and angst that comes from this time of year.
1. Have a Plan
Make sure to talk with your children about upcoming plans to prepare them for what to expect. Although it may not make this any less overwhelming when the time does come, it can help prepare them from a sensory standpoint. Plan to have a "Calm down spot", whether that be the car, a quiet place in the house, or outside to get some fresh air.
2. Avoid Packed Schedules
It's so easy to get caught up trying to see everyone and do everything at this time, that it can be hard to fit in everything in just a few weeks. Avoid overfilling schedules so that you and your kiddo aren't overwhelmed and overextended. Try to keep plans with people you and your child are comfortable with.
3. Stick to Routines
The holidays will absolutely throw you for a loop when it comes to trying to squeeze in something that affects everyday routines. This can trigger anxiety not just for the kids, but also the adults. Try to keep sleep, meal time and exercise routines the same as much as you can. If the family is attending a party and it goes past the children's bedtime, make an effort to keep the bedtime the next day.
Holidays During Covid
As the above plans are mostly for those going to see family and friends at this time, there are still many of us who aren't comfortable with that scenario just yet. We've also got you covered! The Texas Children's Hospital mentions some tips for supporting the kids during the holiday season while we're still toughing out the pandemic.
1. Going on "Virtual" Outings
At this time, some of the zoos offer live webcams of the animals in their facilities! Here in Monterey, we have the Monterey Bay Aquarium where you can watch live feeds of jellyfish, penguins, sea otters and more! This can help prepare the kids for when the family decides to go in the future.
2. Enjoying the Outdoors
There's got to be a reason people say "I'm going to get some fresh air" when they need to think or blow off some steam. Staying in the house too long can have this same effect! Try doing some activities outside like having a picnic or playing a few games, or even just driving around to see some Christmas lights. Getting some sunshine and fresh air are always good for staying healthy.
3. Read Online Books
As an alternative to going to the library, try some different reads online! Texas Children's Hospital recommends Epic!. This site offers a ton of options for kids books and can be suited to fit more than one kiddo in the family and their favorite types of books.
A Different Perspective
A great Instagram account called Autism Sketches has compiled a list of things to keep in mind when autistic children and adults are going through the holidays. Much of what we talked about thus far can be seen in their post! For example, needing breaks and alone time. Finding that safe and calm space is a must! Other great tips they give is to not force participation, respecting food restrictions and reassurance. Asking them if they're okay or if they need anything goes a long way.
Caregiver Self Care
Last but not least, we want to address our caregivers. What are YOU doing during this time to help decompress? Don't forget to take care of yourselves as well. Make sure you're taking some time to yourself throughout the day to relax, breathe, listen to music, whatever you need to do to reset. You cannot be everything to everyone all the time, you're doing the best you can! Give yourself grace and kindness. You should be having fun too!
With that, we want to wish you all a great rest of the holiday season, and we will see you back here in the new year! Keep up with us on our other social media @CentralCoastABA in the mean time!
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Our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are dedicated to sharing their expertise on topics that are important to you.