Christmas can be a very stressful time for people who have autism, but over the years I have noticed that early January can be even more stressful. Let`s face it – it`s not a very nice time of year for anyone; Christmas and New Year are over and it`s back to the same old routine. And you might be thinking `Well, wasn’t it changing from the same old routine that created the stress? ` Well, that`s true, but really, any change has the potential to be stressful and difficult for some people with autism, even if it`s changing back to the way things used to be. Your child might still enjoy Christmas, even though its stressful to them; getting presents and changing their diet might feel a bit over-whelming, but the likelihood is that even if it`s sub-conscious, they will enjoy it so going back to school or college will obviously be unpleasant enough without the fact that any change in routine is difficult for somebody with autism. This is perhaps easier to understand for non-autistic people because the likelihood is that you don’t particularly enjoy that change either. Certainly, looking back at my life, early January was always a time I had a lot of fall-outs with my Mum and felt very upset for reasons I couldn’t quite place. Obviously, it didn’t take us long to work out why this was. We used several techniques to try to deal with this. One of the things was the Reward Plan – if you don’t know about this details of this can be found in our first book `create a reward plan for your child with Asperger Syndrome` – but it is basically a chart that rewards good behaviour, or rather rewards the absence of negative behaviour. We used a lot of Scripts, Signs and Sketches to try to help me to understand why I was feeling like I was, and what an appropriate response was to those feelings. The more I used them, the more I was able to handle things, therefore the more points I got. Used together these techniques can be highly effective. (I am not going to go in to details of all these techniques now because that`s not what this blog is about, but as I said, full details of them can be found in our books.) With the use of these techniques we managed to make this time of year a lot less stressful than it used to be. I am sure there are other techniques out there and I don’t know which ones you might have tried, but I think given how stressful the end of December and the beginning of January can be, it is definitely worth trying something, and I know from experience that our techniques do work when used right.
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