Hints for the Holidays | Touchstone

Hints for the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, and a somewhat return to a pre-COVID holiday season, many families may be busy planning and attending holiday events. For some families, the holidays may present additional challenges for their children. The holidays bring lots of environmental changes such as changes in routines or schedules, caregivers, and social expectations. The science of behavior analysis provides evidence-based strategies that may help your child manage those changes.

  • Most importantly use lots of positive reinforcement! Notice and praise any “good” behaviors! Reinforcing desired behaviors will increase the odds your child will do them again.
  • To the extent you can, keep the morning and nighttime routines consistent.
  • Use priming – allowing your child to preview what is about to happen. You can use calendars and schedules- knowing what to expect may help your child with transitions. Schedules can be words or pictures that show the sequence of events – could be for a day or a holiday function. You can also look at family pictures of past holiday events to let your child know what is coming up.
  • Priming can also include practicing desired behaviors before the actual event – may be practicing opening presents, giving high 5’s to relatives, or any other behavior a child needs help with.
  • Use activity menus – children will be out of school and/or ABA services during the holidays. Often children with autism aren’t yet skilled in independently managing their time.  An activity menu can be words or pictures (that you decide on) and presented to a child so he/she can select something to do during their free time.
  • Help friends and family have positive interactions with your child by sharing information with them beforehand – what your child likes or doesn’t like or how your child communicates and what certain behaviors are communicating.
  • For holiday functions – have an exit strategy. It’s preferable to respond to early warning signs your child is becoming distressed before behaviors escalate. Exit strategies may include having a quiet place to retreat to, using redirection, or increasing reinforcement for desired behaviors.
  • With so much time and attention required in raising children, particularly children with developmental disabilities, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. Know your child’s limits but also your own! The holidays can also add additional stressors for parents and caregivers– more demands on our time, energy, and resources. Remember that it’s okay to say no, regret an event, or ask for help.

To learn more about Touchstone ABA’s services, you can call (985) 446-6833, email info@tc-aba.com or visit www.touchstoneaba.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Touchstone ABA.


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