Latest Blog

Five Tips for Helping Your Child with Autism Cope with Winter Break
Dec 19th, 2023

As the holidays approach, it’s important to remember that it may not be the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. For most children, this season signifies a break from their routine and a welcome to the upcoming holidays. However, for children with autism, the winter break may present challenges that could lead to unwanted stress and anxiety for both your child and family system. Planning trips, holiday shopping, and decorating while also keeping your child engaged can be difficult. Below are some helpful tips to make it through this winter break as stress-free as possible.

#1: Maintain aspects of your child’s typical schedule

Though it may not be possible every day, it can be helpful to stick with some parts of your child’s everyday routine. Morning and evening routines are ideal opportunities for your child to regulate their emotions before or after a day of out-of-the ordinary activities. Finding opportunities for your child to engage in activities that they typically enjoy and find calming can be beneficial as well. This might be going for a walk in nature, listening to music, or engaging in sensory play. 

#2: Stay active

It can be tempting to use winter break as an opportunity to relax and unwind. While rest is essential, it’s equally important to keep your child active and engaged with exciting activities. At KGH, we believe that playtime is an essential part of learning. By providing your child with thoughtful activities that promote social skills, language development, or fine motor skills, you can help them stay engaged and look forward to their winter break. This will also help your child work towards their goals during their time off. 

#3: Use visual schedules and calendars

Visual schedules and calendars can help your child understand their daily routine and upcoming events. Create a visual schedule by listing daily activities in sequential order or use an app like Choiceworks by Bee Visual, LLC. For upcoming events, use a simple calendar to mark significant dates such as the beginning and end of winter break, trips, family and friend gatherings, and holidays.

#4: Prepare your child properly

If your child has a tendency to become anxious about an upcoming event or activity, limit the amount of time in advance you relay the information to them. On the contrary, if they become overwhelmed by abrupt information regarding a change in their typical schedule—similar to when a scheduled appointment is canceled or changed—informing them of the event in advance and on a recurring basis can help alleviate stress. Hesitations and challenges may still occur for your child during the actual event if the event will introduce unfamiliar situations. Utilizing Social Stories is a great way to familiarize your child with what they can expect and how they can respond in these specific social situations. 

#5: Have a plan, but be flexible

It’s important to remember that things might not always go according to plan. Your child may have specific needs or preferences that can change unexpectedly, and it’s important to be able to adapt to these changes. That being said, having a loose plan in place can help provide structure and routine, which can be especially beneficial for children with autism. It’s all about finding a balance between having a plan and being able to go with the flow when necessary.

In navigating the winter break with a child with autism, remember that flexibility and understanding are your strongest allies. Your holiday may not mirror others’, and that’s perfectly okay. Adjust traditions to accommodate your child, and focus on creating memories together. May your winter break be filled with understanding, patience and joy.

If your child is struggling with the challenges of the holiday season, reach out to our intake team: or 224-326-2206.


Bullock, Greg. (2018, March 11). Light Sensitivity and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from

Davies, Catherine. 2008. Using Visual Schedules: A Guide for Parents. The Reporter, 14(1), 18-22. Retrieved from

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. (2018, November 23). How To Write A Social Story. Retrieved from

*This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used to replace consultation with your doctor or qualified health professional. 

Learn how we can help today

It can be overwhelming to know where to start. We help families like yours every day.
Get Started

Upcoming Events

Client Success Story - The Benefits of Early Intervention and Continued Support into Adolescence
3.29.23 from 12 pm - 1 pm CST
3.30.23 from 7 pm - 8 pm CST

Free to Be Who You Are: Autism Treatment through a Neurodiversity Lens

4.27.23 from 12 pm - 1 pm CST
4.26.23 from 6 pm - 7 pm CST

The Importance of Joint Attention in Early Intervention for Autism

5.23.23 from 12 pm - 1 pm CST
5.23.23 from 7 pm - 8 pm CST

A Tale of Two Spectrums: Understanding Gender and Autism

6.29.23 from 12 pm - 1 pm CST
6.29.23 from 6 pm - 7 pm CST