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Helping Parents of Children with Autism Navigate Holiday Season

  • Published: 2010-12-14 : Author: Rethink Autism, Inc.
  • Synopsis: The holiday season can be challenging for children with autism and their families.

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The holiday season is usually a fun and exciting time, but it can be challenging for children with autism and their families.

While many of us enjoy the break from our usual routines, family get-togethers, special foods and other holiday events, children with autism may find these activities unpredictable and difficult to navigate. Rethink Autism, an educational technology company that produces online research-based treatment tools for parents and professionals, offers some suggestions and a free online set of video tips to help families address some of these challenges and enjoy the holidays.

For example, to prepare one's child for family get-togethers, consider creating a picture book beforehand that contains photos of family members and locations that you will be visiting. You can use this to review what will happen at these events and help your child practice the names of family members. One can also work on appropriate social behavior for specific family traditions in advance. For example, if you exchange gifts, have your child practice saying "thank you" and showing the gift to another person. Finally, if your family sings songs or plays games, consider setting up some practice opportunities at home beforehand. This may help your child feel more comfortable and participate in a meaningful way at the actual event.

To see free video-based demonstrations of how to work on these and other important skills, visit the Rethink Autism website (, join their Podcast, or view their YouTube channel.

This holiday tips video is part of Rethink Autism's weekly tips series that is free to sign up for, and has included tips on topics such as Expanding Language & Social Skills, Reducing Problem Behavior, and Building Independence with Daily Routines. The videos draw on Rethink Autism's library of over 1,200 video-based teaching steps that was developed by a leading team of autism educators, including Dr. Bridget A. Taylor, who is also Executive Director of the Alpine Learning Group.

"Our goal was to create a resource that's based on clinical best practices, but also easy for parents to understand and to implement in their everyday lives," says Jamie Pagliaro, Executive Vice President of Rethink Autism and former Executive Director of the New York Center for Autism Charter School.

Rethink Autism currently offers a variety of other free educational content to its community members, including live webinars with autism experts such as Dr. Peter Gerhardt, President and Chair of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research. Archives of past tips and webinars can be found on the Rethink Autism website.

Families, professionals and schools who subscribe to Rethink Autism's online treatment platform have access to an entire ABA-based video curriculum and training center, lesson plans for every skill in the library, and progress tracking so that every person in a child's life can participate in his or her development.

About Rethink Autism (

Rethink Autism, Inc. seeks to ensure that every child on the autism spectrum has access to effective and affordable evidence-based treatment options by providing professionals, parents, and family members with the tools and information necessary to teach children with autism in a way that is easy to understand and apply. Rethink Autism was founded in 2007 and has its headquarters at 19 West 21st Street in New York City.

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