With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I think it’s safe to say that we Autism parents have a bit more on our minds than which turkey (or tof-urkey mmmm!) basting technique we’re gonna try this year.
We’ve got a short school break to consider, a disruption to our regularly scheduled programming, and perhaps some family & friends coming to visit. Each of these has the potential to cause significant amounts of stress in our little guy or little girl’s life. And on top of that, lots of us may have concerns ourselves about how they’re going to hold up throughout the course of the weekend and what we can do to help them navigate it successfully and emerge on Monday morning in one piece.
So with that in mind, here are 3 ways you can use Birdhouse this weekend to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible and you have a successful Thanksgiving with Autism.
1. Make sure Nutrition items in your Birdhouse– medications, supplements, etc– are up to date and set on recurring schedules.
Up to 70% of kids don’t get their medication consistently–either on time or on the right days. Disruptions in your family’s schedule can certainly increase the likelihood that your child will miss a dose, or receive an extra dose, due to miscommunications. And nobody wants that! By ensuring that his meds are scheduled at the proper times, they’ll appear each day in your Birdhouse at the exact time he’s supposed to get them, and you can mark them complete so both you and your spouse (or his caregiver or grandparent) can rest easy knowing they’ve been administered.
2. Keep a record of dietary infractions.
Things get a little crazy over Thanksgiving weekend and diets tend to get a little relaxed. Plus it doesn’t help that there always seems to be loads of food in the house we don’t normally eat– sweets, pies, stuffing and other Thanksgiving-y eats & treats– that don’t always agree with our little ones’ tummies. Making a note of any dietary infractions in your Birdhouse can help you stay on top of just how much he/she is really eating outside of their typical diet, and help you keep him/her on track.
You’ll also be able to look back next week if you’re wondering whether anything he/she ate could be contributing to anything: changes in mood, sleep, and of course, poop.
3. Keep track of moods and meltdowns, and what might be causing them.
The holidays can be a time of sensory overload, even for us adults! For our kids, multiply that by about 50. As important as it is to create a safe sensory room, it’s just as crucial to keep a record of when and where your child has reached his/her limit. Make a note of what you think caused it, and how it was handled. This information could prove invaluable in preventing a meltdown next year– or even at next month’s holiday event!
Bonus tip! Consistency is key to surviving holiday breaks.
Birdhouse can help you be consistent. If you’ve already been using Birdhouse, you probably already have a clear idea of what time your child has been going to sleep each night. Stick to it! Pushing back even a bedtime can easily result in getting off track and setting up a domino effect, but maintaining as “regular” a schedule as possible can help your child, and your family, have a successful weekend.
Hope you have a fun and fulfilling holiday! Have any tips or tricks of your own to share with other families? Leave them in the comments!
Ben Chutz is a Cofounder and CEO of Birdhouse for Autism. He lives in Michigan with his wife, Dani, 10 year old stepdaughter (who happens to have Autism), and 1 year old son. Ben is a lover of music, coffee, and burritos (not necessarily in that order).