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Autism and Festivities: Navigating the Challenges

By: The Autistic Teacher


While festivities, parties, family gatherings, activities, and events can make it a lovely time to meet up and enjoy being with family and friends, they can also bring with them many challenges for autistic children and adults. Bright lights, colourful decorations, music, different foods and smells, even the excitement of having visitors can be totally overwhelming for an autistic person.


Overwhelmed by the Sensory Overload

If you find too many decorations cause sensory overload, do what you need to do to make the environment more comfortable for you. If you need minimal decorations in your house then do that! If you are visiting people, ask them to create a quiet safe space where you can regulate. Don't feel pressured to join in with everything. Do what works best for you and your family.


Food Sensitivities

Autistic people often struggle with food due to sensory differences or anxiety. We are not being fussy or picky eaters- these are real issues. Ensure you have food you are comfortable with. Some of us prefer plain and beige food- don't be offended- we are just sensitive to tastes. Sometimes we might crave spicy and hot foods- our senses may be dulled to smell and taste. Again, do what works best for you and your family.


Coping with Noise

Noisy events with lots of people can be overwhelming for autistic individuals. In such cases, we might need adaptations. Consider having a safe space at home or at a family member's house where you can regulate. Consider using ear defenders when the noise gets too much. Remember, you don't have to participate in everything!


Socialising

Another challenge that comes with special events is socialising. It can be lovely to see people, but it can also be exhausting, especially for those of us who find conversation challenging. Having a quiet space can help, as well as knowing when you will be leaving. It can be helpful to have a time to work with.

There can also be lots of hugging with family, which some people might find awkward. Always ask if it’s ok! Never force a child to hug or kiss someone they don’t want to.


Enjoy YOUR Special Event, YOUR WAY!

Festivities and special events are a time for everyone to enjoy and so it’s really important that you and your family do what works for you! Above all, enjoy YOUR special event, YOUR WAY!


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Thank You!


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