The day has arrived!
The ball will be dropping, friends will visit. It’s party time!
For neurotypical people, the excitement continues to mount as holidays approach. For autistic people and those with Asperger’s syndrome, what may be building, is stress.
Party preparations can be frantic.
People can be disorganized. Plans go awry and it is necessary to improvise.
Autistic people like structure and predictability. They don’t like to be excluded from all social events, but the chaos of parties and gatherings can fuel meltdowns and avoidance.
To help a friend or loved one with autism or Asperger’s, it is important to remember that the experience is different for them. What excites a neurotypical person may frighten them or cause stress.
They are not trying to be difficult. Each situation is unique.
Acoustics can vary from room to room. Lighting can be harsh or irregular (such as blinking or strobe lights).
When the plans are made,the autistic person might feel energetic and confident. On the day of the event, they might feel anxious and afraid.
It’s hard to say why they might be ok in one situation and not in another.
To help, it’s best to be flexible. It’s a good idea to check in with them and ask if they need anything.
They don’t need to be overprotected or smothered with attention. Chances are they don’t want to be a bother.
A quiet room or back porch may provide relief when the person gets over stimulated.
If possible, take them to the place of the event in advance. That way they will have an idea of what they can expect. Predictability is calming to the autistic brain.
If they really don’t want to go, it isn’t good to force the issue. An autistic person may enjoy reading a book at home as much as a neurotypical person likes to celebrate in a large crowd.
Autism should not spoil the fun. It is best to relax and have a plan B and allow the autistic person to spend their holidays in whatever way they choose, and the same goes for neurotypical friends and family.
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, by everyone.