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It's that time of year to show thankfulness and reflect upon the many blessings that fall brings. It can be a wonderful time of the year when we begin to see change occur all around us- from the weather to the decorations! However, it can also be a very overwhelming time for those with autism. There are many different aspects that we should be aware of during this season. It is common for friends and families to gather on Thanksgiving to express all that they are grateful for. This may look a little different for people with autism-and that is okay! Thankfully, there are many tips that can assist during this day of gratitude. 

Turkey Talk & Autism

New Foods- Yuck!

When we think of Thanksgiving, we imagine a delicious feast to be shared with others. For those with autism, it might not seem like the most highly preferred activity. It is common to note that some individuals are food aversive (meaning intense dislike) and are hypersensitive to the textures, smells, or taste of foods. In this case, it may be best to pack a snack bag or lunch box with their favorite snacks/meals. This would make for an easy way to still be able to attend all of the Thanksgiving festivities and still have available accommodations for a food-aversive individual.

Social Stories

As we begin to plan ahead for Thanksgiving events it is recommended to use a simple social story for people with autism prior to attending the event. This will help in setting up the person for success so they know what is to be expected. It can even assist in reducing the common anxiety seen before big gatherings. Before the event, you may want to practice at home by setting the table and including them in the process. Take the opportunity to walk through the entire event by sitting at the table and eating together because while practice doesn’t always make perfect- it sure helps!

Serving Stuffed Turkey_edited.jpg

Visuals & Schedules 

Routine change is hard for everyone, especially for individuals with autism. It may help to provide them with visuals or even a visual schedule for how Thanksgiving day may look. This will allow them to be able to visually prepare and see what is ahead in the day to come. Some individuals may be non-verbal or struggle to communicate their needs and wants. By using visual pictures or a communication device it will allow for them to be able to address their needs during that time of gathering. These may include but are not limited to Break, Food, Toys, Bathroom, etc.

On this day of thanks it is important to remember that Thanksgiving looks different for everyone, especially those on the spectrum. During this time you can show your gratitude towards these individuals by being accepting and seeing the ABLE and not the LABEL!


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