I’ve written before about how Christmas can be a tough time for kids on the spectrum, or kids who have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), or kids with a host of other special needs that make typical holiday events such as visiting Santa Claus at the local mall almost impossible. In the past two years, more malls have embraced the sensitive Santa programs, which is great. However (you know there was going to be a however right?), as word about the programs has spread, more and more people are booking sensory-friendly Santa visits and the programs are nowhere near keeping up with demand. It’s not even mid-November and there are no sensitive Santa slots to be had at malls in and around the GTA. Most sold out of tickets (whether free or with a nominal donation usually to an autism related charity) within hours of going on sale. Which is fine because special needs parents can always drop everything to wait online for tickets to be released and nothing ever happens that would require their immediate attention… oh wait.
Last week I blogged about how I use board games to help teach turn taking skills to kids with ASD. I’ve been asked what games I recommend and while I have some general guidelines and games that I always try out, not every game will be a hit with every kid. I mentioned last time that Chutes and Ladders can be tricky as there is an element of chance in it, but it doesn’t have any text to read (a great thing in a kid’s game) and some kids really love the game. Some games come in character variant like Dora the Explorer or Transformers so that they engage kids’ interest. If you can find a game the child is interested in, that’s half the battle right there – they’ve bought in. So, what games do I have in my stash for kids with ASD? It’s probably not what you’d expect.
One of the hardest things for many parents to understand about their child with Autism is their sensory issues. I’m writing from my experience, which is with kids who have ASD. Sensory issues can come on their own, as part of Sensory Processing Disorder, or with another condition such as ADHD.
If you don’t have a sensory issue, it can be very hard to understand why you child is refusing to put on the shirt grandma gave him for Christmas because it “doesn’t feel right”. Often, parents chalk these tantrums up to behaviour or defiance, but as I explained in an earlier post, behaviour is how some children with ASD communicate that there is a problem. [Read more…]