Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parade Season - Touchstone

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parade Season

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parade Season

Amanda Juneau has a daughter who attends Touchstone Applied Behavior Analysis in Baton Rouge. Before receiving services at Touchstone ABA, holidays proved to be extra challenging for Amanda’s daughter Anna with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Prompting Anna to speak to strangers and say “Thank you,” when appropriate proved trying during holidays.

After being at Touchstone Applied Behavior Analysis for almost a year, Amanda has noticed that Anna has started looking forward to holidays, “I think what’s helped is Touchstone therapists talk about what to expect for different holidays and practice with role play.”

For those unfamiliar, ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA is widely recognized as the most effective, evidence-based treatment for Autism. Essentially, ABA teaches people appropriate behaviors by using a system of reinforcement.

According to Amanda, “We have seen such a change since my daughter has been at Touchstone. She’s always wanted to be social but didn’t know what to say. Her social skills have excelled. At the drive thru, she’ll now roll down her window and say “Hi, my name’s Anna!”

With Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, managing parade season can provide
challenges for parents of children with Autism and other developmental delays. Here are some tips for
how parents can prepare:

• Attending parades can be stressful for any family, so it’s crucial to plan ahead. To the best of your ability, have a parking place and area where you’ll be standing figured out ahead of time to avoid last minute chaos.
• If your child reacts negatively to changes in his/her schedule, give lots of warning of the upcoming parades and put the event on the calendar far in advance.
• Read a book that depicts parades, watch parades on TV or make you own story with computer pictures and simple words (social story) to help your child prepare for what to expect.
• If noise is a trigger for your child, bring noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs for when the marching bands play.
• Set expectations by communicating the plan with the entire family ahead of time. Outline the timeline and rules that need to be followed while at the parades. Some children even benefit by writing down the plan as a checklist.
• Since children with ASD can impulsively bolt from a safe setting to explore something of interest or remove themselves from a situation they find stressful, be aware of your child’s wandering triggers.
• Be flexible and park where you can leave early. If you’re unable to leave the parade due to traffic restrictions, look for a quiet place for you to retreat with your child.
• Pack the necessities. Though there are parades going on, your child might not be interested in them. Pack his/her favorite snacks, toys, puzzles, books and games to provide them with comfort in an unfamiliar setting.
• Since parades tend to last a long time, bring a chair or wagon, so your child can sit and rest.
• Realistically manage your expectations and emotional reactions when heading out to the parades.
• Try to attend smaller parades first so you can practice routines.
• Attend other type of non-Mardi Gras parades prior to attending Mardi Gras parades.
• Always have a crisis plan ready to go and practice it.
• Have a plan for siblings or guests who are with you if you need to return to the car.
• If there are patrol officers in the area, notify them prior in case you need their help clearing traffic in an exit emergency.
• Bring a reinforcement system with you.
• For your first parade, plan to stay a shorter time and leave before any problem behaviors occur.

Touchstone ABA provides comprehensive science-based Applied Behavior Analysis services to help clients achieve important behavioral goals and objectives by delivering individualized services consisting of the most innovative techniques delivered by highly trained, expert staff. Touchstone ABA offers clinical services, educational services for families and schools and business services in Thibodaux, Houma, New Orleans, Hammond, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. For more information on Touchstone ABA, call (985) 446-6833, email or visit

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