As we move closer and closer to the time of year of Christmas celebrations and party invitations, what we know as ‘routine’ and ‘structure’ in our day, suddenly becomes less structured and sometimes, disappears altogether.
Not only does this happen in the home environment, but also out in the community whether it be at school, workplace or day to day activities/programs.
All this uncertainty can create havoc for someone on the Autism Spectrum – not knowing when, where or how festive activities or get-togethers are going to happen nor how many people will be there (and if those people are known/unknown).
Providing extra structure and support through this period is very important particularly as the potential for overload and meltdown is likely to be extreme – feeling a loss of control and the need for sameness is just the right mix to cause an explosion of emotions.
It is certainly worth considering the importance of the celebration/invitation and keeping the festivities to a minimum particularly if it’s likely to disrupt night-time and morning routines. Throw in the mix the tiredness (particularly for young ones) and exhaustion from the social interactions and potential misunderstandings they encounter on a day to day basis and the result is likely to be complete overload.
Creating a calendar whether it be daily, weekly or monthly, can help to create structure and visually map out when events are happening – as soon as you know that there are extra activities planned (or impromptu), place them in on the calendar for all to see. This will help support someone to prepare themselves in readiness for the change.
(See below a calendar sample for the month of December)