Help for the Holidays: Creativity for Autistic Families

You want festive. You want fun. You want fa-la-la-la-la.

Thinking Outside the Box: Autism Strategies for Meaningful Moments

How do we achieve those meaningful moments when we’re faced with constraints like Covid-19 precautions?

I have learned a lot about flexibility and adaptability by observing and listening to disabled individuals, and while I cannot speak for them, I do want to offer what I’ve noticed: They are experts at thinking outside the box and they know how to amp up the ordinary.

Embracing Creativity: Ideas for Autism-Friendly Celebrations

Admittedly, I am not the best and often have to borrow the creativity of others. There’s no shame in asking for help! Nevertheless, here are some ideas to at least get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Putting on Your Own Production: Missing the Nutcracker or a Christmas pageant this year? Maybe you can gather the family members or neighborhood children in your “covid pod” and put on your own production. (My favorite nativity plays were the ones my sister and I did with our best friends who lived next door!)
  2. Outdoor Celebrations: Rent outdoor heaters and have your celebrations in the yard. No yard? Find a local park and picnic shelter where you can bring those heaters.
  3. Creating a Reverent Ambience: If you attend church and services are still virtual, consider how you can create a reverent ambience in your home. If you’re accustomed to worshipping by candlelight on Christmas Eve, go ahead and light those candles. You can even dress up if that’s your thing. [Side note: A silver lining of this pandemic has been discovering the ways in which formerly un-inclusive settings can be more inclusive for the disabled, and church-at-home is a perfect way to experiment with that!]
  4. Virtual Gatherings with a Twist: Schedule a virtual gathering with your friends or family you won’t see this year, but be a little extra. Play a game like charades, eat a meal together, tell jokes, open gifts that you mailed in advance, etc.
  5. Creative Decorations: Decorate in a different way this year. Maybe this is the year you leave the ornaments in the attic and make paper snowflakes and cranberry strings, or maybe this is the year you decorate the tree with a theme. Maybe you hang treats outside for the birds. Maybe this year you decide not to decorate anything, because that’s what your heart wants most of all. By all means, do that.
  6. Making Movie Night Special: If your family has a favorite holiday must-watch movie, make it even more special than usual. Everyone can wear Christmas pajamas and watch in mom and dad’s bed. You can project it on the house and bundle up to watch it outside. You could play a trivia game about the movie beforehand and see who gets the most correct answers as you watch. (That may take a little extra work for one family member to write out the questions.)
  7. Spicing Up Traditions: Similarly, add spice to your usual activities. Our family, for example, makes pizza every Friday night. We may try a new take-out place or try new toppings on our homemade pizza. We could ask friends to join us outside with their own pizza. Once, to celebrate a special occasion, we ate pizza in the dining room on fancy china and lit candles in crystal candlesticks someone gave us for our wedding. Do you have tacos every Tuesday? Game night every Saturday? Find ways to add variety.
  8. Spreading Holiday Cheer: Finally, this one may be a no-brainer, but consider

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