For most families, the winter holidays are a time for celebrating together as a family by decorating the tree, making cookies, and having big dinners. For families with a child with autism, though, the holiday season can be a pretty stressful time because of so much of the sensory stimulation. As an Autism school for teens, we understand the issues that come with the holidays. Many adolescents with autism want to participate in the things their neurotypical peers usually do–like going to snap a photo with Santa at the mall or going holiday shopping–but these activities can often be over stimulating for them.
A Santa for children with autism
There have been a few stories of a mall Santa Claus going above and beyond to help a child with autism have a memorable experience. As an autism and aspergers school for teens, we know that many teens with autism are younger mentally, which means some may still believe in Santa Claus–or just really like him. This was the case for many adolescents with autism that visited a Sensitive Santa in California. This Santa had training on how to help get kids with special needs to open up and have fun–and he did exactly that. This is important because all kids should be able to experience the fun and magic of Christmas, but many miss out because of the sensory overload of those experiences. Dr. Agnesa Papazyan, owner of a gym for kids with autism, explained why it’s so hard:
“We know that children waiting in line to see Santa, especially kids with autism, often have difficulty with waiting patiently, following directions and getting overstimulated by all the people in the mall and the lights and noises.”
Target takes on “Quiet Hours” for kids with autism
Shopping for gifts is a huge part of the holidays–but it can be incredibly difficult if you have a child or teen with autism because of the music, bright lights, crowds, and more. So, one Target is taking it upon themselves to create “Quiet Hours” for those with autism to come in by themselves or with their parents to shop. During this time, they’ll turn down the lights, turn off the music, and not have as many staff on the floor in order to create a calmer environment.
These are both examples of ways people and businesses can go out of their way to help teens with autism be more comfortable during the holidays–all it takes is a little understanding and awareness. As an residential aspergers school for teens, we help parents come up with ways to have a fun, less stressful holiday season.
Seven Stars is an autism & aspergers school for teens
Seven Stars is an autism and aspergers school for teens. We combine residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social awareness, academic skills, self-efficacy and prosocial behaviors. In our aspergers school for teens, we strive to help each of our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how our aspergers school for teens at Seven Stars can help your family, contact us today at 844-601-1167.