Create a schedule board or social story about Thanksgiving.
Creating a picture schedule of events or social story will help our kids to understand what is happening and better yet, what to expect. I found a social story on Autism Speaks that might be useful.
Create a Conversation Book for easy interacting with others.
Be prepared with preventative strategies for challenging behavior.
Create a picture list of preferred activities.
When the family gathering is in full swing and if the family wants to play a game of charades or something that doesn't interest Richie, he can choose to do something off of his list of preferred activities. We'll always try to engage or include Richie in all family fun, but we won't force him to do anything that causes him to be unhappy or uncomfortable.
Tip: Just be sure to remove pictures of activities you won't be able to do that day (you might notice quite a few activities are missing in the picture)! I once made the mistake of giving Richie all his picture choices and Busch Gardens was one of the choices he had to pick. I was able to take him, but we want to make sure all opportunities for communication is available, reliable and valuable (we want our kids to learn the value of communicating their needs).
Adapt activities to include everyone.
- Introduce themselves by name
- Mention one thing they are thankful for
- Read the fact about the origins of Thanksgiving (I’ll pre-print this information)
To include Richie in this activity, I made a picture card for Richie. All he has to do is hold the picture up. I’ll strategically seat his brother or sister next to him to help prompt him if he needs help.
Lastly - Pace yourself, take your time and take breaks.
You work hard on planning, implementing, and executing this wonderful family event, so be sure to build some time in for yourself to take a break.
Enjoy your holiday and each other. Have a Happy Sensory Friendly and Inclusive Thanksgiving!