It's that time of the year for Thanksgiving!
Do you want to know some ways to make Thanksgiving more friendly and fun for neurodiverse people? Here are some tips:
1. Review expectations prior to Thanksgiving! It's important to teach neurodiverse people expectations during activities on Thanksgiving, such as eating at the table when it's time to eat dinner with family. Social stories, role playing, and teachable moments can help with reviewing expectations for the holiday.
2. Plan for the noise! Between the noises from cooking to shows on TV played during Thanksgiving, noise level can go through the roof for neurodiverse people, which some may not like. Make sure to keep the noise level down to appropriate, so everyone can enjoy, and have noise canceling headphones around when needed for neurodiverse people.
3. Create a quiet space! Everyone needs a space to go to even during holidays when feeling overwhelmed, and that's ok. It's important to accept when a neurodiverse individual needs to step aside and have a little time alone to be recharged and back in the fun of Thanksgiving. We all need to do that even for our own mental health and it's ok!
4. Arrive early! When taking a neurodiverse individual to a cousin’s house or somewhere else, it's important to plan ahead and get there early. If it's a new setting, it can help neurodiverse people get adapted much quicker since the environment is quiet in the beginning. This helps for anyone who feels overwhelmed by so many people during the holiday, so getting to a location during Thanksgiving early can help prevent anxiety and overwhelming feelings.
5. Bring something everyone will enjoy! It's important to know that neurodiverse people can be picky eaters. Not everyone, but some. I know growing up, I was a picky eater for a long time. My mom taught me to slowly try one new food a day while having preferred meals. It's a good way of not forcing someone to eat all new and slowly introduce new food. Thanksgiving is about being thankful, including all kinds of food made by family.
6. Have fun and be thankful! Thanksgiving is about being thankful for all who are part of your life, including neurodiverse people. Never compare because everyone is unique in their own ways and brings something special in the world. Make this holiday the way you want it to be and have fun with it!
What other tips or advice you have to make Thanksgiving more friendly and fun for neurodiverse people and families? Share your thoughts in the comments section!