Xmas Overload

Sensory overload for people with Autism, is a common event.  As such we had to deal with how we allow Chase to enjoy new presents and toys without getting overwhelmed.  One great idea is to let him open the first present, and have it be some kind of item he will desire, but not necessarily the best item he will get.  This keeps him engaged, and into the mindset that there may be more goodness behind that next wrapped gift.  Of course we always have gifts that are necessary for the child, but not that sought after item the child was looking for.  Coloring books, and educational tools fall into this category.  These gifts need to be given between desired items, but never two in a row.

Not knowing ahead of time the items in each present is a recipe for disaster.  In an effort to manage the senses Chase is about to get, we found out what all the presents were and decided how and when he was going to receive which ones.  This isn’t to be rude to the other family members giving the gifts, this is to ensure that Chase will actually enjoy the act of receiving and opening the gift.  On that note, if the toy is an item that is “shoplifter proof”, carefully open the box, and remove all (or most) of the tie downs on the gift, then put it back together.  When Chase sees that present, and wants it, if you need 5 more minutes to get it out of the box, be prepared to get yelled at.

Letting Chase open gifts at his own pace was also very important.  If you keep on shoving a new present at him, when he’s still enjoying the first toy, the response will be alot of yelling.  Even if a few presents are left unopened after everyone else is done, he will eventually return to them.  During our immediate family present opening time, his last item wasn’t opened until 2 hours after we were done.

The only mistake we made, was during the extended family present opening event.  Chase’s cousin being younger, got to go before Chase, and he received a big firetruck that Chase wanted… big time.  Next year, Chase will be first, and we will make sure the first gift he opens will be the one that makes him smile.

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