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How to Have an Autism-Friendly Easter

Written on . Posted in Autism

Easter can be a joyous time for families. Many children and adults cherish this time of year and appreciate the beginning of Spring, Easter egg hunts and time with family. However, for many children with autism, Easter can be a struggle. If someone in your family is on the autistic spectrum, then any event period can be extremely challenging for both the child and those looking after them.

Autism and Easter can be a trying mix: new people, new food, and changes in boundaries and routine can all be triggers for autistic children, making this a particularly overwhelming time. To help you navigate this difficult period, we've put together some tips to help you have an autism-friendly Easter. 

Helpful Tips for Navigating Autism and Easter 

1. Ask Your Child

To ensure your child feels as comfortable as possible, consider communicating with your child (if they are verbal) if you can do anything to accommodate them through the Easter period. The Easter holiday can be a fun time for autistic children, so ask them what their current favorite hobbies are so you can be prepared with engaging distractions for them when needed. Explain to them that their usual routine may be thrown off for a few days and prepare them with numerous positive verbal and non-verbal cues. Your child might change their mind frequently regarding their feelings towards the Easter activities; this is okay. Shower them with positive affirmations and ask them often how they are feeling about the events and activities so that you can prepare your plan of action accordingly. 

2. Ditch Traditions That Don't Serve You 

Who says you need to have an Easter egg hunt, or lamb for dinner? Many autistic children have eating struggles, making mealtimes particularly difficult.  Plan ahead what they would like to eat – whether it is a ham sandwich or a plate of chicken nuggets, the most important element of Easter is enjoying the day together as a family.

3. Have a Sensory Room at the Ready

There may be times throughout the day when your child may be struggling and may require a moment of respite and rest. Having all of the family over at Easter can be overwhelming, so it's smart to have a room ready for your autistic child to take a break in. A sensory room can be filled with various sensory products to help calm, distract and engage your child, offering them a moment of peace amongst the madness. Try adding bubble tubes for visual stimulation, or using aromatherapy oils to create an environment that smells relaxing. Playing with sensory toys can help your child to have an autism-friendly Easter that's not too intimidating.

4. Set Clear Event Expectations 

Changing schedules and timetables can be challenging for children with autism, making Easter a potentially tricky time. New faces, new places and attending large gatherings could trigger an autistic child. To make these events more digestible, be clear with your child about when friends or family will visit. Explain to them exactly who will be at events, and let them know how long you will be. Also, communicate with exact numbers and times to help your child manage their expectations

Similarly, if you have guests over at the house, let your child know exactly how long they will be staying. If you notice symptoms of sensory overload, let them know that they are welcome to retreat to their sensory bedroom at any point. It might help to write up a schedule and stick it somewhere visible, so your child has something to refer to.

5. Use Social Stories

There may be many new social elements involved over Easter, including games and traditions, and so it may be easier for your child to digest change if you include an element of familiarity. Navigating autism and Easter is all about accommodation and patience. Try involving their favorite hero in an egg hunt, or make hot cross buns together. Giving your child something 'normal' and familiar to identify with makes them more likely to have an autism-friendly Easter.

6. Be Loving

Above all, recognize that this is a difficult time of year for your autistic child and that they may need some extra TLC to get them through the long weekend. For example, you could try gifting them a Perfect Petzzz as an Easter treat or allow them to carry around a vibrating cushion. Alternatively, you could implement some calming strategies. Whatever makes your child feel the most comfortable, everybody deserves to have a wonderful Easter. 

autism-friendly easter

Autism-Friendly Easter Activities

There’s nothing quite like a traditional egg hunt on Easter Day, but how can you adjust the Easter activities to make them autism-friendly? We share some tips on accommodating your little ones so they can have fun.

·        Sensory Egg Hunt

Instead of Easter eggs, why not replace them with sensory toys. If your child prefers not to go outside, try hiding the sensory toys around the house, or in a sensory bin for a fun sensory Easter activity.

·        ‘Egg’ Making

Instead of playing with plastic Easter eggs, try making your own ‘eggs’ by filling small balloons with water. These balloons can be used to play with in the garden or in the bath for a distracting Easter game.

·        Egg Sorting Game

To keep minds occupied or distracted, play a sorting game. Place small multi-coloured balls into a sensory bin, and ask your child to sort them into colours. This game helps improve their sorting skills, alongside offering a welcome distraction from the day's business.

We hope this article has given you some ideas on making dealing with autism and Easter more accommodating for your child. We recognize that this can be a trying time for many people, so we hope these tips help make your day run slightly more smoothly. For more helpful guides, check out our blog. If you would like some help choosing a sensory room package, or you have any further questions, please contact our friendly team of professionals today.