When it comes to being neurodiverse, sensory sensitivities that can impact celebrations times. With a little effort on your part, you can ensure every guest enjoys themselves at your Christmas party this year. Let’s discover some amazing tips for creating an autism-friendly Christmas in 2021.
Flashing Christmas decorations can be overwhelming for many autistic individuals. This doesn’t mean you have to change anything, but it is always great to give your neurodiverse guests some time to adjust when they first arrive to absorb the sensory overload. If the option is available, it is a great idea to have them be involved in the decorating process so that they both know what will be going on and have the enjoyment of the decorating process.
Whether it is when your guest first arrives or later on in the event, there is always a possibility for sensory overload. To help with this, make sure to offer a quiet and safe place so they can get settled and feel comfortable. Prior to the event, let them know where this will be and that they are welcome to go there at any point while they are there.
This calming space can be a spare bedroom or even an office, just make sure it is some place with a door so they can block off the extra noise from the party. Place some calming tools like a weighted blanket or lap bag in the room to help them recenter. Another nice gesture is to provide a goodie bag filled with sensory toys and gifts at the begining of the party so they have tools on hand to use.
While a traditional Christmas meal might tantalize your tastebuds, we recommend finding out the kind of foods any neurodiverse guests might prefer. Overloading sugar and sweet treats are not recommended for anyone, but it can trigger challenging behaviors for those on the spectrum. A simple conversation can avoid any issues and let everyone seated around the table enjoy the special day.
Handing out Christmas gifts may cause issues for those who may not understand why they can’t have the toy they want. Some neuro-diverse children can fixate on a particular toy – even if that toy wasn’t given to them. You might consider selecting a similar small gift for each guest. If that’s not possible, allow the parent or caregiver time to re-direct the child and help them understand.
Another thing to consider when selecting gifts for an autistic individual, make sure to ask them what they would like ahead of time. They may also not like the process of unwrapping present, so a gift bag or no wrapping can be an option.
Finally, please remember that our responses may not match up with the expectation of the gift giver. Often times, we express our emotions differently but that does not mean that we do not like the gift. Try not to put pressure on the indivdual to respond in a certain way. The sensory overload can also change how we process things including our gifts. You may find out in a lter conversation how much they loved a gift you gave that you thought they hated.
Christmas Party Games
Often those with neuro-differences can find it challenging to understand empathy, feelings, or desires other than their own. You may need the patience to ensure everyone enjoys themselves. Some self-directed games can be helpful. Offering a secondary option during games to everyone is a great way to provide an accomendation that does not isolate the neurodiverse individual.
Will Father Christmas make an appearance?
If you plan to have Santa Claus drop by, you may not get the reaction you expect. Make sure that the autistic individual is okay with characters. Also, speak with Santa Claus before he arrives. There are some sensory friendly Santa’s out there that are great with those who are neurodiverse.
With a bit of preparation, your Christmas party will be a great success! Enjoy every moment.