With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I was thinking about some of the tips that I’ve learned over the years to make the holiday a pleasant one for you, your child, and your family!
- As you plan your holiday meal, be sure to include items that you know your child enjoys. Perhaps that means even a special side just for him/her.
- Keep appetizers either under cover or not readily available. Ryan has his favorite appetizers and, if given the opportunity, will dine on those versus waiting for dinner.
- Keep the dinner short and sweet! Your child will likely not be able to sit at the table for an extended period of time.
- Consider a visual schedule to encourage your child to eat slowly. This is one I always used with Ryan, and today I encourage him to put his fork down after each bite and count to ten!
- Allow your child time to be in a quiet space prior to dinner; he or she may want to watch a movie on the iPad, play with a favorite toy, or, as Ryan says, “Do preferred activities!”
- Catch your child being “good.” I constantly reinforce Ryan for utilizing manners, eating slowly, and engaging in conversation with guests.
- If your child does exhibit behavioral challenges, prepare your guests. Let them know how you handle disruptions and encourage them to follow your lead.
- Create a social story for the day. Autism Speaks has a great social story available for download here.
We have a very low key Thanksgiving: we spend the morning at LECOM, and in the afternoon we decorate for Christmas. A local restaurant provides take-out, which takes away the stress of the day and allows me to truly enjoy the holiday!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!