6 Ways to Make St. Patrick’s Day Enjoyable for You and Your Child with Autism

Ah, Saint Patrick’s Day in Montreal. It’s green, it’s fun, it’s a party! It’s also loud, unpredictable and stressful for a lot of kids on the spectrum and their families. Many want to try and go and participate in the fun, but worry how will their child handle it?  Is there a way for everyone to have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day? I think so, as long as you have the right tools in place. Our family has not tried to go to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the past. Our son has extra-curricular activities pretty much back to back on Saturdays and Sundays, but for those who can go, here are some tips that I think can help the whole family enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, before, during and after the parade. And those like us, who have not yet tried the parade, can celebrate other aspects of St. Patrick’s Day.

6 Ways to Make St. Patrick’s Day Enjoyable for You and Your Child with Autism:

1) Decorate and make the atmosphere festive: I like to put up some decorations in the house prior to St. Patty’s to make everything bright. I even try to do some baking and cooking with green, and wear green on the day. It gets everyone in the mood no matter how we celebrate! Once again my go to store- Dollarama! J

2) Write a Social Story about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: For our story, I would write about baking, decorating and what the day means. If we were going to the parade, similar to any new event, I would write what we would be seeing, hearing, doing and what would be around us.

3) Experiencing the parade in different ways: If you are scared to venture out with your child to the amazing downtown parade, try taking in the local one in Hudson which is beautiful as well, albeit on a smaller scale. There is also the option to watch the parade on TV or laptop, and take it in as a family that way with your green clothing, accessories and goodies.

4) If you go out to a parade, go equipped : This means have layered clothing and sensory toys and tools: This goes with any loud or busy outing, but remember having adequate clothing, snacks and water as well as your child’s sensory toys to help their cope with the potential overstimulation can go a long way. For us, I would definitively bring snacks, headphones and stand somewhere where an exit would be easy to do should we need to.  

5) Go to events out of the home with friends: Again, a good way to ensure some measure of success going out to an event is to go with friends who have experienced the parade or parties. There is more fun in company for many of our kids, but again, have a backup plan ready if you need to go home.

6) If all is going well, take pictures: This is one I forget about, but a lot of my friends have done this. Then, if a child is nervous about attending a party, big event etc. they look back on the pics and see how much fun they had. You can even incorporate that in another future Social Story.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, remember your child will surprise you with how much fun they could have if you follow their cues, and make the day about family. Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, editor, and blogger of “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” at www.exceptionalmomchild.com, where she blogs about how her son with autism is raising her! Joanne is all about women helping women to live life happy, whole and in balance. Follow her on Twitter @exceptmomchild