Autism-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day: 7 Fun Tips!

Autism-Friendly St. Patrick's Day: 7 Fun Tips

From the bustling parades to the vibrant green decorations, St. Patrick’s Day is a day filled with festivity and merriment that many enjoy. However, for families raising children and teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), these celebrations may come with their own set of challenges that are vital to consider. Some complex features of ASD often include difficulty expressing emotions and connecting with others, sensory sensitivities, and the demonstration of repetitive or rigid behavior.

Unfortunately, all these factors can contribute to increases in distress and worry in neurodivergent folks experiencing new or unfamiliar situations like holidays and festive occasions. Fortunately, with some consideration, it is possible to have a wonderful autism-friendly St. Patrick’s Day.

In this comprehensive guide by ABA Centers of America, we will explore ways to adapt traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to be more welcoming and enjoyable for individuals with autism. Including ways, ABA therapy helps autism families experience better holidays throughout the year to keep things a bit less overwhelming and more fun!

So, keep reading for tips and tricks on how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with autism in mind!

Click here for more information about ABA Centers of America, ABA therapy, and other autism blogs.

Understanding Autism and St. Patrick’s Day

Autism is a complicated developmental condition that affects communication, behavior, and social interaction in many with a diagnosis, as described by Autism Speaks. For individuals with autism, the sensory overload, changes in routine, and social demands of holiday celebrations can be tricky. Fortunately, Applied Behavior Analysis, also called ABA therapy, provides a structured approach to managing some of the challenging features of autism so clients can learn new, more productive communication, which can be invaluable in preparing for and enjoying St. Patrick’s Day activities and other events like it.

Through ABA therapy, individuals can learn coping strategies and social skills to help them better understand and participate in holiday activities. ABA providers can also work with families to develop individualized ABA plans for their loved one’s specific needs during celebrations to ensure they have support in ABA sessions.

Understanding the Challenges Those with ASD Face Around Holidays

Before diving into the tips and tricks for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Autism, it’s crucial to understand why the day may be challenging for those on the spectrum in context to the various symptoms those with the condition may display. Some core features of ASD can make it challenging to navigate new environments and tolerate loud noises, crowds, or other stimuli they process as overly overwhelming that are often a part of holiday celebrations, like St. Patrick’s Day.

Moreover, children and teens with autism sometimes have difficulty understanding the significance of certain traditions or social expectations surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, leading to confusion, possible meltdowns, and other problematic behaviors. Being aware of these challenges can help families proactively address them and support their loved ones in having a positive experience during various holiday festivities.

So, how can families make the most of St. Patrick’s Day while keeping their loved ones with autism engaged and comfortable?

Here are some seven tips and tricks for celebrating an autism-friendly St. Patrick’s Day with your whole family.

Tip 1: Create a Visual Schedule

Visual schedules are an excellent tool for individuals with autism as they display clear and structured plans for the day that increase an understanding of expectations surrounding behavior and upcoming events. Creating a visual schedule specific to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day can help your loved one understand what is happening throughout the day, easing any potential anxiety and even expanding their willingness to try new things, as they feel less afraid.

A picture schedule for those celebrating autism may include images of kids watching a parade, a picture of the green shirt they might wear, or foods some may serve at parties, etc. It’s also helpful to review the schedule beforehand with your loved one, allowing them to ask any questions and familiarize themselves with the plan while proactively expressing any potential concerns.

Tip 2: Incorporate Familiar Activities

Incorporating familiar activities into your autism-friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebration can provide a sense of self-reliance and control for individuals on the spectrum. Make sure you offer opportunities for kids to listen to their highly preferred music, movie, or TV show or engage in a familiar hobby. Hence, they feel some aspects of their holiday are already known and enjoyable.

Finding ways to incorporate these activities into the day’s plans can help individuals with autism feel more confident and assured throughout this holiday and with others.

Tip 3: Prepare for Sensory Overload

The noisy chaos, bright colors, and crowded areas and gatherings associated with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations can be nerve-wracking for individuals with autism who experience sensory sensitivities, as discussed earlier. It’s essential to prepare for this and have a plan in place for when your loved one experiences the sensation of sensory overload.

To mitigate some of these sensory concerns, caregivers should consider bringing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs, taking breaks in quiet, less densely populated spaces, or creating a sensory kit with items that provide comfort and soothing effects, like fidget toys or weighted blankets and vests.

Tip 4: Break Out Some Sensory-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Crafts!

Sensory-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day crafting can be a fun and relaxing activity for individuals with autism. Still, some traditional St. Patrick’s Day crafts may need some adjusting to be appropriate due to sensory sensitivities or fine motor difficulties. Consider opting for sensory-friendly crafts such as making green slime or painting with hands instead of paintbrushes.

Coloring books with St. Patrick’s Day themes can also be a decompressing and fun activity for individuals who prefer less sensory stimulation. These activities can provide an opportunity for your loved one to engage in hands-on learning to express their creativity while feeling safe participating in the holiday themes.

Tip 5: Autism-friendly St. Patrick’s Day Cookie-Decorating

A fun and inclusive autism-friendly St. Patrick’s Day activity can be decorating cookies or other pastries together, allowing everyone to participate in a tangible activity you can tailor to everyone’s abilities and preferences. Cookie decorating also offers an opportunity for social interaction and collaboration between family members and friends as they pass sprinkles or frosting while discussing the day.

For individuals with autism, decorating cookies can also provide a therapeutic sensory experience by incorporating different textures and colors. Additionally, kiddos can garnish cookies with a St. Patrick’s Day twist by incorporating green icing, shamrock sprinkles, or other festive decorations, which can be a creative outlet that leads to more passion surrounding the artistic process.

Tip 6. Promote St. Paddy’s Day Sensory Play

Consider making a sensory bin filled with green rice, gold coins, and shamrocks to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with autism. This sensory play can help stimulate the senses while also providing a calming effect and even introducing new sensations. Best of all, this activity can be done at home or as a group, allowing individuals with autism to engage in social interactions while also enjoying a sensory experience. Additionally, you can bring this bin to parties or other St Patrick’s Day events.

Tip 7: Involve Your Loved One in the Planning Process

Involving your loved one in the planning process can help them feel included and give them a sense of control over their holiday experience. This planning process may consist of asking your loved one with ASD for their input on activities, decorations, and food choices. It’s also helpful to have your loved one help with preparations, such as setting up decorations or helping cook a traditional Irish dish, to increase the participation and understanding of holiday themes.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Autism Can Lead To a Great Holiday This Year and Next!

By implementing these tips, families can help their loved ones with autism feel more comfortable and excited during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Ultimately, it’s essential to understand the challenges individuals with autism may face during these holidays and proactively address them to ensure a positive and inclusive experience for everyone.

Fortunately, with suitable accommodations and preparations, St. Patrick’s Day can be an enjoyable and memorable holiday for individuals with autism and their families. So, let’s raise our glasses of green juice (if that’s your thing!) in celebration of this wonderful holiday and the beautiful diversity that exists within our community.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from ABA Centers of America!

If you are interested in learning more about how ABA therapy can support your loved one with autism during the holidays, reach out to ABA Centers of America. We serve the autism community in regions including New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Our team of ABA experts can provide personalized ABA support and guidance to help children and teens on the spectrum thrive during festive occasions, alongside diagnostic services.

We know first that with the proper support, expertise, and resources, individuals with autism can have a fun and inclusive St. Patrick’s Day experience. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and discuss your circumstances today with an ABA Centers of America team member.

Contact us at (844) 923-4222 or via this online link to learn more about our ABA and autism diagnostic services with us.

Let’s make every holiday inclusive and enjoyable for all!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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