Thanksgiving Tips

thanksgiving day tips 300x200Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate and give thanks. However, for some families of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this holiday may be overwhelming with all of the many unfamiliar foods, faces, and places. 


Here are some tips to help ease the holiday jitters:

1. Prepare for the holiday
Begin to talk about the holiday and your plans to celebrate well in advance. Prepare your child as to what to expect, such as the location of your celebration and the activities that they will partake in that day.  You may even practice familiarizing your child with Thanksgiving foods ahead of time so they are more likely to try them (see tip #5 below)!

2. Be patient
Remember that Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming time for many people. Set your child up for success by creating one realistic goal for them. Examples may include greeting family members, sitting at the table for a specific (and appropriate) duration of time, or sharing toys with cousins.

3. Throughout the gathering, ease jitters by setting clear expectations for your child
Utilizing timers or first/then visuals to show your child what the expectation is can be a great resource. Don’t forget to embed breaks throughout the day!

4. Practice with family
With lots of new people and family around, this is a great time to practice generalization of the skills your child has learned in his or her ABA program! Set up learning opportunities with new people and support your child in their interactions with those less familiar family members.

5. Introduce new foods this week
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try new foods! Use Premack's Principle to increase your child's motivation to try new or non-preferred foods. For example, if your child really wants those chocolate chip cookies, entice him or her by saying, "First try a green bean, and then you can have a bite of the cookie.” Start this today and follow up each day leading up to the big day!

From all of us at FirstSteps, we are thankful for all of the children and their families with whom we work.

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! 

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