- Inform family members, in advance, about how they can minimize anxiety or behavioral incidents. Enlist other children to be inclusive in pre-planned activities with your grandchild.
- Prepare your grandchildren for what they will experience in celebrating the holidays with the family. Introduce family games, special foods or traditions in advance to them so that they know what to expect when they visit. Show them photographs of former family gatherings and people who will be guests.
- Invite your grandchildren to select and display some of the decorations. Choose those with little sensory stimulation. Blinking lights and moving ornaments can be especially distracting and disturbing to them.
- Tell your grandchildren, in advance, that you have provided a “safe, calm space” for them if they feel overwhelmed. Designate a quiet area with favorite activities where your grandchild can go if they become over stimulated. If you observe them becoming anxious, calmly take them to that space. Provide stuffed animals, a favorite blanket, a puzzle, crayons and other comforting items there for them.
- Improvise with a sheet over a table to create a quick “fort” for your grandchild if they seek some isolation.
- Have headphones or soft music available.
- Plan to have your grandchild’s favorite comfort foods available. Holiday menus may not please them or work with their diets. You may want to ask their parents to bring any special food they enjoy to your home.
Gift Giving Tips
- Shop by catalog or online with children so they can help to select and anticipate what gifts they will receive.
- Consider giving gifts one at a time, before and after the holiday, when there is less noise, fewer distractions and more time for the child to focus on the toys and other presents.
- Children with autism do not typically like surprises: take gift requests. Wrap gifts in clear cellophane or place a picture of the gift from the catalog on the attached gift card. Avoid noisy or glitzy wrapping paper.
“Priceless” Gifts for the Holidays – and for All Occasions
- Compliment, encourage and reinforce your grandchild’s parents often
- Provide respite childcare so that parents can spend time together
- Help with housekeeping chores, i.e. laundry, cleaning, pet sitting
- Take a grandchild to a regularly scheduled appointment or class
- Volunteer to bring in treats to your grandchildren’s classrooms
- Entertain siblings to enable more time for child with parents
- Freeze individual homemade meals for use when needed
- Offer your home for a family holiday or birthday party
- Invite grandchildren for sleepovers at your home
- Take your grandchild to the library weekly
- Offer to do carpools for a week or more
- Arrange for a play date in your home
- Take your grandchild on a picnic
Gift Suggestions for Any Budget
- Host birthday parties at local sites or offer to rent inflatable equipment at home
- Give an annual family membership to a favorite museum, acquarium, etc.
- Certificates for manicures, pedicures, massages or other spa services
- Coupons for restaurants, fast foods or meals delivered at home
- Gift cards for hobby/craft stores or for classes or supplies
- Sponsor a family day at the zoo or an amusement park
- Gift cards for department, electronic or book stores
- Support school lunch costs for a month or more
- Sponsor a needed service, activity or program
- Music lessons or other enrichment classes
- Movie tickets and money for refreshments
- Tickets for plays, concerts, sports events
- Fund a housekeeper for a day or more
- Purchase health club memberships
- Host a sleepover at your home
Here are Gift Certificates that you can print and use for holidays, milestone events or for any day.
Gift Ideas for Teens and Adults
- Try a free trial membership together at a local gym
- Locate a new activity to join, e.g. bowling league, laser tag, YMCA or city sponsored group
- Watch CD’s or movies about a destination you want to visit and plan a trip to go there
- Give an annual membership to a favorite museum or other local attraction
- Gift certificates for personal care services, e.g. haircuts, manicures, massages, spa services
- Tickets for amusement parks, movies, concerts, sporting events
- Shop together for clothing, books, hobby or special interest items or research online for requested gifts
- Download apps for productivity and entertainment
- Commit time to sharing a favorite activity, once or on a regular basis throughout the year.