The holiday season is fast approaching, however, just because we take time off from work and school, does not mean we should fall behind on the speech homework. Christmas is a great time to practice all of the little social niceties that people engage in around the holiday season and can be a great way to teach children that struggle with social skills, the appropriate responses to different social scenarios.
Many children with high functioning Autism tend to provide information in a very blunt and straightforward manner. To some people it can be refreshing, but not everyone agrees on that and the safest option is often to hold your tongue and just appreciate the gift that is given. It is important to teach this to children with social difficulties in a functional way. You can do this by providing your reasoning and practice beforehand the types of responses that are acceptable when receiving a gift they may not like, explain that they don’t have to lie and say they like the present. Instead they can say “Thank you, that was nice of you” to spare the person from feeling upset about the gift they thoughtfully picked out.
A good idea when visiting Santa for a photo at your local shopping centre, especially for children with Autism is to warn them before the visit and prepare them for the experience. This is important because even children without Autism can sometimes be afraid of Santa Claus, as often it is a new experience with a stranger not dressed like most other people they meet. List all the steps involved in visiting Santa such as waiting in line, sitting on his lap etc. Then do a test run if you can and get someone to dress up as Santa. Many children with ASD have difficulty coping with situations that are new and out of routine and this activity helps to make the experience less novel and stressful for them.
For those that are not able to handle the typical Santa photo situation there is always the option of sensory Santa. This is an experience run in some shopping centres and location tailored specifically for children with special needs. Families are able to book a preferred time to see Santa, which means no queuing, and the photo is taken in a quiet, low-stress environment. This is a great initiative to ensure that no child misses the Santa experience.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.