Surviving the Holidays Advice

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Below are submissions from parents like you who have been there/done that and want to share their advice on surviving this time of year.

We'd love to hear from you about your experiences and advice!  CLICK HERE to share your holiday advice.

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Keeping Up with GFCF and Dealing with Infractions

  • We spent the holidays with our large family. We asked the one household who also is challenged with food allergies to be the host house. If you can’t find something as great as this, educate someone to help you in a large gathering. If there will be 50 people together, find the one aunt that will believe in what you’re doing and take it upon herself to advocate on your child’s behalf when it’s time for dinner and snacks.
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND
  • Our doctor offered to call anyone to explain or answer questions about diet with relatives we’d be spending the holidays with.
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND

Gifts

  • Be clear with family and close friends if they ask for gift ideas - for 2 years in a row, our son had no interest in presents once they were opened - we let everyone know they should spend minimal dollars but get many gifts to open if they wanted to see joy!
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND
  • I have friends who very honestly told their family that presents were no fun for their family right now, it stressed everyone out with sensory overload. They asked for money going toward annual passes to Disney for the family. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND

Gatherings

  • We attended an extended family reunion a couple of years ago. I made up iron-on signs for my son's T-shirts and a baseball cap. I had the red circle with a line through it and said 'FOOD ALLERGY' and said under it "Don't give this child ANYTHING to eat!" We also kept a close eye on him ofcourse.
    Natalie, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Send out a short note or email to everyone you will be enjoying the company of during the holidays, including office co-workers explaining a few challenges unique to your family at this time of year
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND

Traveling

  • Send out a short note or email to everyone you will be enjoying the company of during the holidays, including office co-workers explaining a few challenges unique to your family at this time of year
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND

Enjoying the Moments!

  • Choose something small that you know you can pull off with great success. Something that will turn out just as you imagine and plan for. If you want a trip to visit Santa, make tons of phone calls to find the Santa that will accommodate your family, possibly with a special time. Put all your effort into making that happen if its important to you. If seeing your child with joy opening packages is something you really want to happen, put all your effort into it. If that means nobody will see it but you, tape it to share with others.
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND

School Parties

  • If surprises are a problem for your child with autism, tell him what is in the package before he opens it.  This can be especially hard at school parties when kids bring gifts for a boy or a gift for a girl and exchange among the class.  It could turn out to be something your child is allergic to, is scared of.  A better idea is to buy a gift for the exchange but buy it for your child and make sure it's designated for him during the class party.  And if helpful, tell him what to expect the present to be.
    Janice, Grand Forks, ND

Sitting Through Services

  • Bring books and/or a favorite stuffed toy
    Betsy, Alameda, CA

Traditions

  • Chanukah - when our daughter was very young, like many kids on the spectrum she was afraid of candle flames and singing. She would run out of the room when I sang the blessings and lit the candles. But once the menorah was lit, we moved it out of the way. Now that she's gone through several years of ABA, speech, etc., she's emotionally more mature. She has her own menorah which she enjoys lighting, and she sings along with me.
    Betsy, Alameda, CA

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