Tips for Restaurant Dining

I have stopped going to restaurants with my child. He doesn’t eat what’s on the menu. He doesn’t sit at the table and usually causes a scene. What can I do to make going out to dinner a family event? 

Restaurants require children with autism to negotiate a variety of visual, auditory, and olfactory information. Selecting appropriate food choices, waiting for food to be delivered, and maintaining appropriate behavior at the table pose significant challenges to a successful visit. Successful restaurant visits depend on selecting appropriate goals. Your goals for your first restaurant visit will differ from your long-term goals. Start with small goals (with which your child is likely to be successful) and work towards more difficult goals. For example, you may start visiting restaurants to have a single appetizer in the afternoon and then work toward a full meal during dinner time.

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Halloween Tips

Halloween is coming up and I would like to try Trick-or-Treating with my child. Is there anything I can do to make it more successful? 

student painting of a catHalloween trick-or-treating requires a variety of skills from sensory tolerance of costumes to the social exchange of receiving candy at the door. Practice and preparation can help make Halloween successful for children with autism.

Costume selection is an important factor in Trick-or-Treat success. Materials should be lightweight, loose, and non-irritating. Your occupational therapist can suggest materials suitable for your individual child’s tactile sensitivities. The characterization of the costume is often less important than a child’s ability to tolerate the material! Hats, wigs, or masks may slip down over the eyes and may become distracting throughout the night. Costumes with tassels, beading, or sequins also may elicit physical stereotypy with the material. It is important to try on the costume and wear it around the house on several occasions before attempting to Trick-or-Treat. Practice wearing the costume will help desensitize your child to the material and movement of the costume. Sports figures, superheroes, and any other costume that simulates typical clothing or pajamas have been successful costumes for many children with autism in the past.

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Winter Clothing

I cannot get my child to wear hats and gloves and other cold weather gear during the winter. Does anybody else feel this way?

student painting of mittensParents often mention how difficult it is to get their child with autism to wear and keep on hats, gloves and other winter weather apparel during the cold winter months. This can be quite a challenging task for parents since many children with autism often do not want to wear clothes that are different from what they typically wear on a day-to-day basis.  Individuals with autism also present with a variety of sensory issues including tactile defensiveness. Getting your child to tolerate winter wear is no easy feat especially when you are trying to get out the door on a tight schedule.  Here are a few tips to hopefully make this process less overwhelming for you and your child.

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