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Holiday Tips for Individuals with Autism


An article from Autism Speaks on helping parents and caregivers of kids with autism handle the unique challenges of the holiday season.

A family is sitting at a table. They are smiling as they eat their dinner.Holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. Here are a few tips that can help ease the anxiety for individuals with autism (ASD) and their families

  • Bring quiet sensory toys or activities for the individual to use.
  • Arrive early at gatherings, allowing the person with ASD to get used to a growing number of people.
  • Inquire about a quiet location that a person with ASD can be relocated to if they become distressed.
  • Use social stories to prepare for parties or religious services.
  • Reward individuals with ASD often, using words of praise or tangibles (food, toys, etc.).
  • Bring someone with you for extra support while shopping or attending events.
  • Allow the person with ASD to wear earplugs or listen to music.
  • If attending a religious service, inquire about how the other people attending the event can support the family.
  • Be aware of anxiety and offer breaks as needed.
  • Practice unwrapping gifts or give gifts unwrapped to alleviate stress.
  • Difficulty with change? Consider gradually decorating the house.
  • Prepare the individual in advance for visitors, like a photo album to review.


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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.