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Keep Your Child with Autism’s Festive Spirit Going into 2016!

Now that the holiday season has passed, where does all that excitement and energy go - especially for a child with autism? Here are some post-holiday suggestions to keep your child’s festive spirit going strong into the New Year!

Start by helping your child reminisce about all of the recent fun experiences and feelings she had. Then, have her communicate them in a thoughtful, organized way by writing and drawing.

How to Help Express Your Autistic Child's Holiday Gratitude

To express appreciation for loved ones, it’s best for your child to create homemade cards with drawings of special events he enjoyed or gifts he received along with the words “Thank You!” on the cover. Inside the card, help your child write these ‘Thank you’ cards using the steps below as a guideline to reinforce language and social skills:

EVENT TYPE:

-Did I visit [person] at his/her house, or did [person] visit my house?

GREETING:

- Hi, [Person’s name / nickname]!

- Dear [Person’s name / nickname],

STATEMENT OF GRATITUDE:

- Thank you for visiting me.

- Thanks for coming to my house.

- Thank you for inviting me to your house.

GENERAL SENTIMENTS:

- It was so nice to see you.

- I was happy you came to visit me.

- I really liked ________.

(e.g., the decorations in your house; the games we played; the food you brought; the cake you made)

SPECIFIC INTERESTING EVENT:

- It was so [fun / great / exciting] when __________.

(e.g., “It was so fun when we made paper snowflakes together.” ; “It was so great when your mother gave us tape to fix the paper snowflakes.”; “It was so exciting when we played football outside.”)

WISH FOR THE FUTURE:

- I hope we can __________.

- Let’s ________.

(e.g., visit each other again soon; play football together again)

OPTIONAL PRE-CLOSING:

- Happy New Year!

- Have a great new year!

CLOSING:

- Sincerely,

- Your [friend / cousin / nephew / etc.]

- Love,

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EVENT TYPE:

- I received a gift from [person].

GREETING:

- Hi, [Person’s name / nickname]!

- Dear [Person’s name / nickname],

STATEMENT OF GRATITUDE:

- Thank you for the [name of gift].

GENERAL SENTIMENTS:

- I really like the [gift].

- The [gift] is so _____________.

(e.g., cool / pretty / fun / interesting / etc.)

SPECIFIC INTERESTING CHARACTERISTIC:

- [Green / Pink / Blue / etc.] is my favorite color.

- I love this [character]. He/she is from one of my favorite [TV shows; books; movies, etc].

- The design on this [gift] is so colorful.

SPECIFIC INTERESTING USE:

- I feel so cozy in this [article of warm clothing].

- My sister and I made [thing] together with this kit that you gave me.

- When we played this game that you gave me, I beat Dad twice.

THOUGHTFUL SENTIMENT:

- Here’s a [thing I made from the gift received. Enclose it in the card.].

- I will give you the [thing] I made for you when I see you, [person’s name].

- Let’s make a [thing from the arts/craft kit received] together when I see you again.

- Let’s play this game together, [person’s name].

- Look at this photo [enclosed within the card] of me wearing the [clothing gift received].

OPTIONAL PRE-CLOSING:

- Happy New Year!

- Have a great new year!

CLOSING:

- Sincerely,

- Your [granddaughter / niece / neighbor / etc.]

- Love,

Have fun experimenting with your own sentence combinations for both a holiday visit and for receiving a gift. When your child sees this person again, he or she can have a conversation about these experiences and feelings. With your help, your child will be able to share precious memories with loved ones and grow closer together.

About the author

Karen Kabaki-Sisto, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Applied Behavior Analysis instructor. For over 20 years, Karen has been helping people with autism improve their communication abilities within schools and at-home settings. After a decade of technological experimentation, she invented “I Can Have Conversations With You!™”, a life-changing therapy program for iPad to help people with autism enhance their social and language skills like never before. To learn more, please visit www.iCanForAutism.com.

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