AARC Tip of the Month
December 2014


What to do When School is Out

For children with autism, the routine of school can be comforting and familiar. While many children wait in anticipation for school to be on break, many kids with autism spend the break waiting for school to start again. Here are a few ways to make a holiday break fun for your child with autism, and therefore, more fun for your family.

  • Ask staff at your child's school to start preparing them for the school break in advance. They can talk about it during calendar time or have a social story available for your child.
  • Plan something for each day of the break. It doesn't need to be anything big, just something that you can put on the calendar for your child to look forward to. Examples might be seeing a favorite movie, visiting with a preferred relative, or baking something special.
  • Keep as much of your child's routine the same as you can. If your child is used to waking up at 7, continue this over break. Mealtimes and bedtime can also be kept the same.
  • Limit the amount of TV and encourage physical activity each day. Physical activity is a good coping skill for reducing stress.


Holiday Gift Guide

If you are looking for a gift for someone in your family with autism, you might be wondering, "What's a good gift to give to a child with autism? What is a gift that parents will appreciate?" 

There are many stores marketing toys that are autism friendly or autism specific. While these are great toys, you don't have to get an expensive specialty toy for a child with autism.  Just like any other child, a child with autism will have specific things that he/she prefers over others, but here are some general guidelines you can follow when picking out a gift:

  • Buy a toy that is designed for the child's developmental ability, rather than their age. For example, if a child has delays in social and communication skills, look for toys at their level that can help to develop these skills.
  • Many children with autism have a special interest. Find a toy or book that is related to this topic.
  • Avoid toys that are loud, messy, or have a lot of parts. Look for toys that are calming or can be played with independently and quietly.
  • Look for toys that can be played with another child or group of children. This will encourage social skills and play skills. Again, this doesn't need to be a specialty toy, just something that is meant for more than one player.


Book Suggestions:
These books have chapters on handling holidays, and are available in the SESA Library. You may search the library on the SESA website, or you may contact our Librarian, Anne Freitag, at afreitag@sesa.org or 907-334-1301

For easy searching on the SESA Library site, we've added the ISBN number. Simply copy, paste, and search!

Autism & PDD Concept Development: Toys and entertainment
By: Pam Britton Reese and Nena C. Challenner
LinguiSystems, 2001. 
ISBN: 076060391X

"Children with ASD and developmental disabilities can visualize the essential features and attributes of toys and entertainment items with these illustrated, step-by-step lessons." Publisher's website.


Tasks Galore Series 
By: Laurie Eckenrode [and others]
Tasks Galore, 2003. 
Tasks Galore: For the real world - 9781934226018 
Tasks Galore: Making groups meaningful - 1934226025
Tasks Galore: Lets play - 9781934226087

This series of books has photographs of set-up activities for individuals or groups. There are a lot of creative ideas that may be helpful in keeping kids engaged over the winter break. 


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