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How to Plan an Autism-friendly Christmas

Andrea Moreno

The importance of planning big events for people living with Autism is sometimes overlooked, but it can easily be executed with these steps that I will share with you. As many people may know, living with Autism can be taxing when dealing with sudden big events or surprises and can cause anxiety. To avoid this, planning for the holidays is essential. This will create a more comfortable environment to have an enjoyable Christmas celebration around friends and family without feeling overwhelmed. Also, planning can help decrease anxiety, panic, stress, and overthinking. Familiarizing yourself or an individual with the idea of what to expect definitely takes the edge off with it comes to preparing for big events
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Now that we have learned how crucial planning is, we also have to take in consideration sensory friendly options. First, we must understand triggers for people living with Autism. Some common triggers are things that are too loud, fast, new, unfamiliar, bright, unexpected, loose, or too tight just to name a few. These tips will help you in preparing to gift them certain presents and how to wrap them. Making Christmas presents too tight to open in a quick amount of time can cause unnecessary frustration. Keep in mind you want the Christmas present easily accessible without too much hassle. To add to that, decorations and gifts can be a trigger as well. It's helpful to get decorations that aren't too loud, bright, flashing, or distracting. 
The next thing you should plan for is small talking with relatives and friends. Social anxiety can be a scary task to face so talking small steps can make a huge difference. Day by day leading up to Christmas is great for learning new social skills. These tips will slowly prepare an individual for interaction with others without trying to cram information the day before, that can make matters worse. 
Gifts don't always have to be a dramatic surprise. Asking someone what Christmas presents they would like doesn't spoil the holidays. You could even incorporate them into wrapping gifts so they are familiar with everything and won't feel anxious about what to expect. Reassuring methods also aid in the benefits of making someone comfortable so they won't feel uneasy. In addition to that, discuss a little of what will take place and allow them to ask as many questions as they'd like. 
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Coping with extended family can be a little intimidating, but learning social skill methods each day before the holidays will be effective. Be sure to not cram tons of information in one day but taking in bits of information each day at a time. You can also go over topics to talk about such as Christmas food. Talking with unfamiliar extended family that's not seen regularly can be resolved by talking about talking that is relatable and comfortable such as food. Everyone likes food, especially Christmas food. It's an easy topic that can be brought up and will be a bonding experience for everyone.
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