Christmas and ASD and ADHD: Bah Humbug

While I was reading the Daily Telegraph the other day, I came across an article outlining the 10 worst things about Christmas

These included the pointless days between Christmas and New Year, Christmas pudding and all those new holiday adverts etc.

This list did not include however the changes to the timetable in schools across the country throughout the final weeks of the Autumn term. Christmas brings the pressure of having to provide a number of additional activities outside of the normal schedule including the Xmas concert and various other occasions.

While this indeed sounds like it should be fun for all children this may not be the case for all, especially for children with ASD or ADHD.

As most will be aware changes to schedule and routines and rituals can often result in anxiety and stress for students with ASD and ADHD who thrive best on consistency and continuity. As result it would only be prudent to think about planning some additional options to reduce potential problems

Here therefore are some key tips in order to survive the season of good will for students with ASD and ADHD.

Use visuals and schedules. Make sure the child knows the schedule for each day as soon as you know the plans for the final weeks of term.

Clearly identify any changes in the daily routine and prepare the child in advance – even the slightest change can be upsetting for the child if they don’t know it is coming.

Church, concerts etc can be sensory overwhelming for some children – so maybe have them sit on the end of rows (not in the middle) and let them leave if it becomes too much. Possibly let them wear earplugs or a headset also.

Use sensory manipulative as they can be calming for children with ASD and help children with ADHD focus more effectively.

Create social stories for visits to different places outside of the school and classroom or even for the final few days of term.

Beware of sensory issues like balloons, party poppers, music, food smells and other new experiences
This list is not extensive and indeed you may want to think about a whole series of additional strategies for specific students, however it may help in the overall mind-set.

Also this not to say don’t celebrate and enjoy the season in school as many students will welcome the changes to the routine and the excitement that Christmas generates. Just be aware of the impact that the changes may have on children with ASD and ADHD.

Finally to all of you, have a very happy XMAS holiday and I look forward to being in contact with you in 2017.