We all know that several children with Autism do not like a change in routine. With this in mind, how can we modify the typical New Year's Eve celebrations so a later bedtime and issues with noise won't cause an emotional meltdown?
If you are thinking of celebrating and want to avoid unnecessary fireworks from a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, here are a few suggestions borrowed from PBS parents and adjusted with the special needs child in mind to help maintain a fun yet peaceful atmosphere.
RING IN THE NEW YEAR
Many kids can't or shouldn't stay up until midnight. Children with Autism already have sleep issues so why exacerbate the problem? Bring out the confetti, ticker tape and sparkling drinks early in the day and have a count down to 12 noon on Dec. 31st.
TRAVEL THE TIME ZONES
It's always midnight somewhere so set clocks around the house and ring to time zones around the world. As you globe hop from country and continent take into consideration the customs and routines that people may observe for New Year's and act accordingly. The research required to do this can be a wonderful educational activity.
Transform the Christmas Tree into a New Year's Resolution Tree. Put the other holiday decorations away and replace with wishes and intentions for the new year. Take strips of paper and have everyone write their goals, wishes and dreams for the new year on each, then make circles with each strip and create a paper chain to go around the tree.
DROP THE BALL
You don't have to be in Time Square to experience the New Year ball drop. Avoid the sensory stimulation that most children with Autism cannot tolerate and have your own ball drop at home! Plan your own festivity and create a ball of your choice as a fun family activity, then drop it when you're ready to bring in your New Year!
Make sure you take the time to plan any of these activities in advance. Write them on the family calendar and discuss them days before the event so they do not come as a surprise. Remember, children with Autism like predictability so giving them enough advanced notice will prevent unnecessary hassles and keep the fireworks to a minimum.