Holiday Host How To’s: Creating a Welcoming Environment for Someone on the Spectrum
Posted on 10/29/19 in Parent and Caregiver by Milestones
The holidays are a fun time of year for many reasons: more quality time with loved ones, holiday activities, yummy comfort food at every turn... the list goes on and on.
For many individuals on the autism spectrum however, the holidays often bring with them additional stress due to change in routine, scenery and company.
If you are hosting a loved one with autism for the holidays this year, Milestones encourages you to keep the following suggestions in mind, to ensure an enjoyable and comfortable event for everyone involved.
Be open to adjusting mealtimes.
Planning around when the individual with autism typically eats will help to keep their routine similar to what it may be at home. Decide what time dessert will be beforehand to create a schedule.
Encourage the family or individual to arrive early.
Invite individuals with autism to arrive early when the house will be calmer, giving them time to become more comfortable before it gets busy.
Offer to provide the individual’s favorite food.
Whether it’s due to sensory issues or dietary restrictions, mealtime can be challenging. By offering to provide their favorite food or items that meet their needs, it can lessen the stress surrounding mealtime. Aren’t sure what to provide? Encourage the family to bring along what they’d like!
Provide a quiet place.
Seek out a quiet area for your family member or friend with autism to have space. Different smells and noises can be overwhelming. By providing a quiet space, they can decompress and take a break.
Go over expectations prior to the holiday.
Everyone has different rules for their home. Your guest with ASD may need clear expectations about what those rules are. Selecting a point person may be helpful to reiterate those expectations throughout the day.
Take your loved one's lead when it's time to go.
Planning to gather for a few hours rather than all day may be a better option for your loved one with ASD. They may enjoy the gathering for a while, then start to feel anxious or over-stimulated. If they need to leave early or suddenly, be understanding and reciprocate their quick good-bye.
Be understanding about where you gather.
It may be overwhelming for your loved one with autism to make the trip to your house for the holidays. If they insist or their family insists on hosting rather than traveling, understand this allows them to stay in their space where they are able to enjoy the holiday.
Have a specific question about providing appropriate accommodations for your loved one this holiday season? Call the Milestones free autism Helpdesk at 216.464.7600 ext. 200.