When your child has autism or another “special need,” holidays presents challenges. Here are some I remember that are common at Easter.
Photos with the Easter Bunny
Getting a photo with the Easter Bunny is a big thing in the US and is becoming more common here in Ireland. Typically, the Easter Bunny is in a shopping mall where there are lots of people, lights and sounds – not an ideal environment for kids with sensory issues.
Finally, it is your turn and your child sees the Easter Bunny up close. He tries to run away because like Santa, the Easter Bunny can terrify young children. He doesn’t look like a real bunny and is big and scary! Even if you manage to get the elusive photo with Mr Bunny, it is not a happy one!
Easter Egg Hunt
Most Easter egg hunts have informal rules to ensure fairness. Rules are great for most children with autism who love structure. They know how to follow rules. What they don’t understand is the “grey area” accompanying these rules. So if the rule is that the first person to spot the egg gets it, why do you have to give the egg to the younger child right behind you? If adults are not supposed to help, why is another mom helping a toddler?
Everyone is in his or her best clothes for church services on Easter Sunday. Nevertheless, trying to get your child, who lives in tee shirts and sweatpants, into a regular shirt and trousers is difficult.
Once your child is wearing his Easter clothes, the scratching and complaining starts. Easter clothes are not sensory friendly. So, you give up and go back to the tee-shirt and sweatpants.
Easter eggs and sweets are the highlight of the Easter holidays for many children. However, having lots of candy around the house raises other issues.
Some children are quite fussy about what they will eat while others will try to eat all of the candy at once. And of particular Easter egg or other sweet is popular at Easter parents face potential disappointment if they don’t deliver the goods.
For many families religious services are a big part of Easter. However, bringing your special needs child to Easter Sunday service is another challenge. The challenge begins with the Easter outfits discussed above. Then, you face multiple sensory challenges when you get to your house of worship.
On Easter Sunday, you face with large, noisy crowds of people as you enter and leave your religious service. Once inside your child must contend with more noises, lights and smells. Then they are expected to sit still and stay quiet. And if they don’t, their families get rude stares or comments from strangers.
What have your Easter experiences been like?