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Autism and the Christmas Connection by Jennifer Krumins
Happy Holidays to our friends around the world!
Because so many Time Timer fans have children with Autism, we're delighted to bring you this blog by Canadian author and Autism Aspirations founder Jennifer Krumins. Jennifer has written several books, including "Autism and the Grandparent Connection," to help families navigate ASD. Look for her @ Autism Aspirations on Facebook.
Autism and the Christmas Connection
by Jennifer Krumins, Autism Aspirations
T'is the season to be jolly... right? I hope so. For many of us in the Autism community, whether we celebrate Christmas or not, the Christmas season may be a time of increased stress and anxiety. This is the time of year when we find the malls, the music, the running here and there to be too much.
How much more difficult would it be if you did not have the ability to cope with the loud music, strong smells, jostling of people, the decorations changing your school, home and familiar places? That's the reality for our children.
Tonight, months of shopping, cleaning, decorating, visiting and shaking up our schedules will bring us to Christmas Eve. I know many families in the Autism community here in Toronto with special Christmas Eve traditions (even the families who celebrate other winter holidays). We're all longtime Time Timer fans. I have what must be one of the first Time Timers ever made!
Here's how your Time Timer can help you and your children with Autism enjoy the next two hectic days.
#1 HOW MUCH LONGER?
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day can be a flurry of new activity. Even the most high-functioning child with Autism can become easily overwhelmed. It's a lot of hurry up and wait ~ hurry to Grandma's, wait to open presents, hurry up and take a bath, wait while we cook that extra long dinner, etc.
Discuss with your family the maximum amount of time that your child can wait. Set your Time Timer. Follow through: when the timer is up, the child can start eating / opening presents / etc even if everything isn't perfectly ready yet.
Having a time frame for waiting makes it easier to endure – for everyone! And it'll help the extended family give your child some extra Christmas love by settling into his/her schedule.
#2 SHOW ~ Don't Tell!
For many people with Autism, a picture is worth a thousand words! Your whole family can use the Time Timer to easily interact with your child, showing him/her:
- How long will we be at the church service, party or dinner table?
- How many minutes until we open gifts?
- When will the cookies be baked? Dinner made?
- How long will we play this game? Read this story?
- How fast can everyone get in their pyjamas and into bed?
This helps your relatives, who may be a little shy or uncertain about Autism, begin communicating with your child in a visual way.
#3 THE GIFT OF TIME
Time Timers offer a visual reminder that while your child's comforting routine may be thrown off, time is still preditable. 20 minutes is always 20 minutes. That realization can be powerful. When the upteenth camera flash hits his eyes on Christmas Day, or the third great-grandmother offers her a smothering hug, that's the perfect time for your child to glance at the Time Timer and realize that it's only been 5 minutes. They're handling it. They're growing stronger and more in control of their time. They're OK. Time is predictable when life is not. At this special time of year, that understanding can be the sweetest gift your child receives.
Happy New Year to all,
Jennifer Krumins and family
Jennifer Krumins is a full-time teacher in Ontario with 22 years experience in special education and the regular classroom. A mother of three (one of whom has Autism), she is currently a special education resource teacher in a classroom for children severly affected by Autism. Jennifer has written three books, including Been There, Done That: Finally Getting It Right, A Guide to Educational Planning for Students with Autism; and One Step at a Time: ABA and Autism in the Classroom ~ Practical Strategies for Implementing Applied Behavior Analysis for Students with Autism. Her latest book is Autism and the Grandparent Connection: Practical Ways to Understand and Help your Grandchild with Autism.