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Preparing Your Child With Autism For Passover And Easter

March 26, 2013   By Stacey Hoaglund

How To'sReligion

While many people find Springtime to be filled with excitement and new beginnings, kids with Autism can find it more than challenging. Here are some practical tips that can make this Spring's holidays less stressful and more enjoyable for your entire family...

  • Prepare your child for the upcoming holiday, the events of the day and what it’s all about with social stories and an activity schedule so he or she will have a better idea as to what to expect.
  • Go to a local book store with your child and pick out some appealing books on the special holiday that your family practices. There are some beautiful books on both Passover and Easter. Books filled with attractive pictures will are especially helpful to visual learners. For many kids, videos hold the key to understanding and interest.
  • If your family tradition includes coloring Easter eggs, visual task strips for this activity work out great. A task strip will show the steps of the egg coloring process. This is a fabulous activity for children and their siblings to do together.
  • Gateways, Access to Jewish Education offers some nice visual supports that include the Passover meal, songs and order of the Seder.
  • If you are going to someone else’s home for the holidays, let the host know about your child’s Autism and what to expect ahead of time. If they have children, provide information in a kid-friendly manner.
  • Consider lessening clothing expectations. Many families wear formal attire at this time of the year. If your child does not like to wear new  or more formal clothing or finds it’s confining or “itchy”, pick your battles and let him/her wear something more comfortable and familiar.
  • Consider the special meal. If your child is a picky eater or is on a special diet, find out what will be served in advance and prepare substitute dishes that your child will find enjoyable.
  • If you plan to go to a place of worship, have a “bag of tricks” to keep your child busy during the service should he or she become “antsy”. Include in your arsenal a new book or toy that you're prettys sure will be liked, fidget toys, snacks (make sure they're not crunchy), etc.)
  • Remember to have fun, and not to sweat the small stuff!

This holiday time can be joyous for all in your home, with preparation, love and understanding.

Stacey Hoaglund is a Disability Advocate and Author.