In a few days we will gather with family and friends to be thankful for all we have our lives. The days leading up to Thanksgiving (or any holiday) can be exciting, yet filled with anxiety, which could result in unexpected behaviors and reactions for some of our loved ones.
We talked about making changes in the actual celebration to better support your loved ones. We need to focus on preparing them for what they might experience – the different smells, sounds and expectations – during the Thanksgiving celebration.
Social Stories: These tools help by creating a simple straightforward explanation of what will happen during or leading up to an event, as well as behavior expectations. Ideally social stories should be reviewed multiple times prior to an event and directly before. Bring the social story to the event and reread it in a quiet place. This may help to decrease the stress and refocus behaviors. Please feel free to print and use these social stories or you may find some free by searching the web.
Visual Schedule: Enjoying a relaxed unscheduled day may sound perfect, however your loved one may need to ‘see’ his/her day to decrease anxiety and unexpected behaviors. A visual schedule may prove to be the needed tool. Visual schedules are helpful for all family members. You can use actual photos, simple stick-figure drawings or icons to depict your daily events. You may choose to split the day by listing the AM schedule first and then changing it to the PM schedule at a natural break. You may choose to list the entire day and have your loved one remove the icon/picture as each part of the day is completed. Please feel free to print and use these icons to create a visual schedule of your loved one’s day.
First-Then cards: First-Then cards may be a new tool in your toolbox. These cards use the same icons or pictures as a visual schedule, however are presented two at a time. This tools gives your loved one a focused message of the immediate expected event or behavior and what will directly follow. You may consider following a non-preferred activity with a ‘break’ or ‘leisure choice’ to increase his/her attention to the non-preferred activity. For example, First: eating dinner – Then: going outside to swing. Please feel free to print and used these materials to create a First-Then card for your loved one.
Remember to take a moment to step back and truly see all the beauty that surrounds you. Cherish your time with family and friends. We at Lakeshore Speech Therapy are thankful for our Lakeshore families. We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving day filled with laughter and happiness.
Yours in Speech,
Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC