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How Moms of Autistic Children Can Create a Joyful and Inclusive Christmas

The festive season is supposed to be a time of joy, warmth, and family togetherness. But for moms of autistic children, the Christmas holiday can present unique challenges that may sometimes feel overwhelming.

Adjusting the holiday experience to match the needs of an autistic child can make all the difference, ensuring that everyone has a chance to enjoy the festivities.

Here are some tips for creating a merry and inclusive Christmas that the whole family can enjoy.

Understanding Sensory Sensitivities

Many autistic children have sensory sensitivities that can be exacerbated by the bright lights, loud music, and general hustle and bustle of the festive season.

To create a sensory-friendly Christmas:

- Use Dimmer Lights: Consider using dimmer lights on your Christmas tree or opting for decorations that are less overwhelming, such as simple white lights.

- Control the Volume: Keep music at a lower volume, or choose softer, instrumental pieces that can be soothing rather than overstimulating.

- Create a Quiet Space: Designate a quiet room or area where your child can retreat if they feel overwhelmed by the noise and activity.

Maintaining Routines

Routine is often important for autistic individuals, providing a sense of structure and security.

During Christmas:

- Communicate Changes: Prepare your child for changes in their routine by discussing them in advance and using visual schedules if helpful.

- Stick to Routines: As much as possible, maintain your child's daily routine, including meal times, bedtime, and any therapeutic activities they usually partake in.

Inclusive Festive Activities

Choose holiday activities that can be adapted to your child's comfort level:

- Baking Together: Many children enjoy the sensory experience of baking. Choose a simple recipe that your child can help with.

- Decorating with Purpose: Involve your child in the decorating process, allowing them to place ornaments or choose items that are pleasing to them.

- Gift Wrapping Sessions: If your child enjoys the feel of paper and tape, involve them in gift wrapping. Alternatively, use bags and tissue paper for a less challenging task.

Gift-Giving Tips

Presents are a big part of Christmas, but they can also be a source of stress for autistic children.

- Mindful Gifting: Consider the sensory preferences of your child when choosing gifts. For instance, if they don’t like the feel of certain fabrics, avoid clothing with those textures.

- Unwrapping Presents: Some children might find the process of unwrapping overwhelming. It's okay to leave gifts unwrapped or to wrap them in a way that makes them easier to open.

Preparing for Social Gatherings

Social gatherings can be particularly challenging.

To make them more manageable:

- Brief Family Members: Educate your relatives about your child’s needs and how they can help create a supportive environment.

- Have an Exit Strategy: Be prepared to leave early if your child becomes too stressed.

Emphasizing the Spirit of the Season

Remember, Christmas is about warmth and love.

- Focus on Togetherness: Emphasize activities that foster togetherness, like reading a holiday story or watching a favorite Christmas movie.

- Encourage Giving: Help your child choose gifts for others, which can teach empathy and the joy of giving.


Christmas is a time for love, understanding, and patience. By tailoring the holiday experience to accommodate the needs of your autistic child, you’re not just giving them a gift; you’re embracing the true spirit of the season.

For moms of autistic children, the best Christmas is one where every family member feels included, respected, and happy. With these tips, your Christmas can be a celebration that is both merry and bright for everyone involved.

Remember, every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts, you know your child best.

Above all, give yourself grace. The holiday season is a time for joy, not perfection.

Wishing you and your family a peaceful and joyful Christmas! 🎄✨

With love and support,

Kendra- Autism Mom Xtraordinaire

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