Tips for parents and carers – Coping with Christmas

by swisscottage / December 14th, 2012 / in Archive 2012/13 / 0 Comments


Christmas is coming, and while it’s an exciting time of year for most people, the Christmas period can sometimes be very stressful for a child with autism. Surprises can sometimes make children and young people with autism very anxious so it is always a good idea to involve your child in the whole Christmas process.

Preparation and routine

Use a calendar to prepare the child for Christmas. Things to include: holiday time from school and when school starts, day’s visitors will arrive, the day decorations and the Christmas tree will be put up and most importantly when and where you will open presents. Highlighting these times on the calendar will help your child prepare for the time spent away from school, and changes in routine, and home.

For the big day itself, make a visual timetable which outlines what will be happening that day and when. This could be in pictures or written like a schedule. Take some quiet time first thing in the morning to explain the timetable.

Keep your child’s routine consistent as much as possible, For example, if the child uses any visual communication tools, continue to use them as much as possible.


Allow your child to pick the wrapping paper for their presents. Ensure that all toys are ‘play ready’ this might mean putting batteries in before wrapping. Allow your child to open presents gradually and at their own pace, some children may want everything open straight away whilst others may be over whelmed.

Some possible presents for children with autism are sturdy trampolines, which are good for using up energy. Sensory toys such as bubble making machines, turn-taking board games like Battleships and Guess Who? CDs and musical instruments can also work well.


Changes at home can be overwhelming for children and young people with autism and decorations suddenly going up can be very confusing. Warn your child that decorations will be going up on a specific date (put on calendar) and allow your child be a part of the decoration process. Allowing the child to participate in decorating may prevent negative reactions to changes in the environment. It is sometimes beneficial to do the decorating over a number of days so that the change happens slowly. This may also be helpful when taking them down.

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