CONN. (WTNH) — The holiday season is upon us, and that can mean our homes come alive
with the sound of music, special scents emanating from the kitchen, and changes to the décor as we anticipate holiday gatherings.

While it’s a time of happiness, it can also be overwhelming, especially for those on the Autism spectrum. The sights and sounds of the season can be a recipe for sensory overload.

Your guide to autism-friendly Christmas activities in Connecticut

There is some good news, however. If you have a loved one with Autism, there are things you can do to lessen their anxiety and increase your family’s enjoyment this holiday season.

“Just like for you and I, the holidays are a stressful time of year,” said Terri Larson, a Program Manager with Autism Families in Connecticut.

She said for those who have a loved one with autism prepare their child for a variety of different activities.

“Children on the spectrum really do well with structures scheduled, an organized piece of paper that kind of tells them what to expect, and what they’re doing first, second and third,” said Larson.

To help combat sensory overload, Larson suggests having headphones that can dampen sound that may become overwhelming for children.

“Find ways throughout the day or throughout the holidays to stick to some of those
structured routines that you have in your normal, everyday life,” said Larson.

Children, and even adults on the spectrum often have special diets or don’t like particular foods.

Larson recommends families plan their menu ahead of time especially if they need to pack to go.

Larson also recommended that families choose their outfits in advance so it is not a decision-maker on the day of a special event.

Lastly, if your child hates surprises, leave the presents unwrapped under the tree.

A list of autism-friendly events in Connecticut can be found here.