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Autistic guest. 5 good tips to make the holidays friendly for everyone.  



Christmas is not always a peaceful time. Although this is what we most often wish for. Visiting loved ones and the preparations associated with it are rarely peaceful in any home. Shopping, cleaning, cooking, or wrapping gifts - there is a lot of work. And that's just the beginning. Then there are three more days full of conversations, meetings with closer and distant family, Christmas carols, festive outfits and intense smells. Excessive stimuli can be exhausting for any of us. Including for autistic people, except that they feel it a bit more.

Here are 5 good tips to keep in mind when hosting a person on the autism spectrum.

  1. Routine is very important.

Repetitive activities and daily rituals are very important for each of us. They are what establish the rhythm of the day and provide a sense of security. They are especially important for people on the autism spectrum. The holidays obviously shatter these routines. Because Saturday evening instead of in pajamas and on the couch this year will be spent festively dressed sitting behind the table among family and loved ones.

How do you make everyone feel comfortable? The best way is by agreeing to keep a partial routine. For example, we can suggest that guests wear their favorite outfit - even if the outfit is not festive.  

  1. Food selectivity.

Not everyone likes cabbage with peas or fish in jelly. Christmas Eve dishes based on dried mushrooms, cabbage and fish may not be to everyone's taste. In addition, autistic people often have food selectivity. This means that they eat only selected things. Others, due to taste, smell, texture or temperature, they simply can't eat.

How to make everyone feel comfortable? The best way is to leave all the guests to choose. Let everyone eat what they feel like - after all, there are as many as 12 dishes to choose from! Guests with specific dietary requirements (such as those on the spectrum, lactose intolerant, on a vegan diet, etc.) should also be asked beforehand what they eat and what they don't. After all, a plate of yellow cheese sandwiches or pancakes with jam on the Christmas Eve table is not the end of the world.

  1. Excessive stimuli

The smell of poppy seed cake mixed with the aroma of herring with cream. The din of conversations at the Christmas table drowning out the carols. Colorful decorations and twinkling Christmas tree lights. The excess of stimuli on this day is felt by everyone. Especially people with sensory hypersensitivity. Among others, such as people on the spectrum, in whom excess stimuli can cause anxiety and even physical pain.

How do you make everyone feel comfortable? Often all it takes is a simple way to reduce the stimuli. Not all light decorations need to flicker at the same time. Carols can play in the background or only when singing together. If it's helpful for someone that day, for example, let them use noise-canceling headphones. Sometimes people on the spectrum may need a quiet place to be quiet. It's worth keeping this in mind and giving them a moment to get their emotions under control.

  1. Emotions are important

Not everyone feels the same way. And not everyone reacts the same way in a given situation, either. For many people, effusive greetings - even from family - may not be comfortable. Especially for autistic people, who often don't like touch. Unwrapping gifts doesn't always go the way we dream it would, either. When the gift turns out to be wrong, not everyone can hide it. Often, the pressure imposed on that day causes particularly sensitive people to give up attending family gatherings on their own. And yet it doesn't have to be that way at all!

How to make everyone feel comfortable? Just understand that we all have the right to our emotions. Not everyone can or can hide them or easily silence them. Empathy will be key here. There is no one golden advice here. Let's simply refuel others with respect and kindness, as we would like to be treated ourselves.  

  1. Conversation first and foremost

Christmas preparations in many homes have been going on for a good few weeks. There is no shortage of things to do and to discuss in this pre-Christmas time. We often ask about the gift of our dreams, set a time to meet and share responsibilities. Unfortunately, in the process, we forget to ask about what is most important. When we know that a person on the spectrum is visiting, it is worth talking to him or her or their caregivers about what to do to make the holidays comfortable for them.

How to make everyone feel comfortable? It is a good idea to prepare for the meeting in advance. Both those receiving guests and those going to visit. Sometimes all it takes is a moment of conversation. Getting to know each other's behavior, preferences or habits will avoid many unforeseen situations. Talking beforehand will also help prepare for difficult situations.

And most importantly. Just because this Christmas will be different doesn't mean worse. Proper preparations are not just about making salads or washing windows, but also about talking and being willing to look for solutions that satisfy everyone. Respect, acceptance and trying to understand each other is a recipe for a successful Christmas. After all, I think everyone wants to be not only a great host, but also a welcome guest when the roles are reversed.

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