Experts Tell ASD Parents, “Be Aware and Be Prepared” for the Holidays

December 19, 2022

Flexibility Seen as Key to Enjoying the Holiday Season

Experts from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah recently published advice to assist autism parents to deal with the challenges that the holiday season can cause their children. The team identified three significant holiday issues and offered suggestions to help with each situation. 

Change and Lack of Routine

The Huntsman team suggests creating a visible schedule during the holidays to address changes in daily routines that could prevent meltdowns. Perhaps as important, they also advocate for leaving plenty of time for the child to get adequate sleep, even though schedules may be hectic. 


The holiday season is filled with crowds, noises, lights, and other sensory triggers that are difficult for little ones with ASD. The Huntsman team suggests going out at less crowded times and packing items to help deal with sensory overloads, like sunglasses, earmuffs, and fidget toys. 

Stressful Situations

Most likely, families will encounter stressful situations over the holidays. However, the team explains that parents can take a few steps to help their child navigate these tricky circumstances. First, ensure there is a quiet area for your child to regroup. Secondly, bring a favorite book or toy to help create a distraction. Lastly, pay attention to your child’s cues that may be showing stress or overstimulation. Understanding and recognizing these cues before a problem erupts can help create an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone in the family.  

Last but Not Least, Be Flexible

Above all, the Huntsman team advises parents to allow flexibility throughout the holiday season. The goal is to help children with autism enjoy the holidays and for parents not to dread them. 


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