Let’s be honest, even children who do not have Autism spectrum disorder can benefit from social skills lessons. Thanksgiving is a time when you get together with a lot of people that you may not see frequently. Many of the people may be elderly too. Kids are expected to get dressed up, be on their best behavior, and sit and socialize through Thanksgiving dinner. That is a lot to expect out of a little kid.
Here are some tips to help you have a successful Thanksgiving.
Read stories about Thanksgiving ahead of time. Many of these foods can be a bit foreign to your kids. I know we do not eat mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, turkey, or even pies very often These books talk about what happens on Thanksgiving, who come over, what do you eat, and even why you celebrate it. Your children are more likely to try foods they do not know about if you talk about them ahead of time.
Give them a run down. Go over your plan for Thanksgiving. What will you do that day? Where are you going? Who will be there? Why are we doing this? Kids want to know these things and may even look forward to it if they know what will be happening.
Expected and Unexpected Behavior. What is expected on Thanksgiving? It is expected they be polite and kind to the people they are with. It is expected your children share their toys. They sit and eat their dinner. It is unexpected to not say hello, to play and not join the dinner table, to watch TV during Thanksgiving dinner.
Script it. Help them out and go over questions people may ask them. What would be. Nice answer to those questions. Someone may bring a gift. What do you say if you receive a present? If you do not like the present it is expected you say thank you anyway instead of, ‘I don’t like it.” You may not like the food. Do we say yuck and make a disgusting face? Teach them and tell them the right thing to do.
Picky eaters. Try some Thanksgiving foods ahead of time. Make sure there are a few things served that you know your child will eat. Don’t force them to try any food. Less pressure may work better than more. Maybe it will trick them into trying it.
Play and alone time. Make sure there is a place for your child to play. Kids play and they should. This should be a fun holiday for them. If your child may benefit from a quiet space, seek it out ahead of time.
Do not talk about your child while they are in front of you. If you need to disclose something private or personal to friends and family do it without your child in front of you. Your child is not their disorder or delay. They are a person.