Thanksgiving is right around the corner; which means that the time has come for friends and family to visit your home. It is the time of year when families cook special meals like that on Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. It’s that time of year when holiday foods like cabbage, tamales, empanadas, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and potato latkes are spread out on the table.
But for kids with autism spectrum disorder, the next few weeks could be quite overwhelming. They will experience new tastes, new smells, and new sounds and sights almost everywhere. Routines are changed. Trees and special religious symbols suddenly appear in the house. The usual meals disappear from the dining room table. And that often represents a challenge for the autistic child’s family.
Special needs teachers know that these are difficult times for autistic children. They experience so many new things. Setting up the classroom to reflect the holidays can ease the transition both at school and at home. Autistic children can enjoy the fun seasonal activities of wrapping Christmas treats and giving them to other children. A talking crow and curved pumpkins would transform into colorful arrangements of leaves and turkeys. A Christmas tree and some Christmas music, along with a Santa Claus, are placed in front of the classrooms in early November. More holiday symbols and activities are gradually added to help autistic children adjust to the season.
In many schools with special needs, new foods are introduced. This helps them prepare for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The Thanksgiving dish can include traditional items like turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and pumpkin pies.
Elsewhere, the winter holidays are a great time to introduce Santa to autistic children. Also, it is a great time to experience a great gathering of family, friends, and strangers. The “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps, developed to teach communication skills to children with autism spectrum disorder, are very useful in these times. These two apps help autistic children to express themselves even in front of strangers.
With all the decorations all around, the look on the children’s faces is priceless when grandparents, parents, and siblings walk into the classroom. An annual event like this is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand how the “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps have helped children with autism acquire key communication skills. And for children, waiting for Santa to speak to them is the most anticipated moment.