7 Ways to Help Kids with Autism Participate in Giving Thanks

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Explore seven creative ways to include students with ASD in your Thanksgiving activities this holiday season. These tips and helpful hints to participate in giving thanks can be applied both at home and in the classroom.

“In this busy time of year, it becomes particularly important to stop and take stock of what we have been given and to give thanks. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sometimes it’s difficult to help our students or children to be able to participate in a way that allows them to give thanks. We all have things to be thankful for and the opportunity to say thank you should never be passed up. So, I thought I would share some thoughts about how to help children with autism participate in giving thanks this Thanksgiving.

Individuals with ASD have difficulty with communication and interaction as part of the disability. However, just because they might have difficulty expressing it doesn’t mean that they don’t have a desire to give back and [participate in giving thanks]. They just may have difficulty expressing that gratitude.

There are many typical ways that we think of having children participate in thanksgiving routines from having them make cards, say grace, donate food to the needy, and many others. However, for individuals who have limited communication skills, saying thank you is something that may be a bit more difficulty.

Here are 7 ways I thought of to include a student or child in our giving of thanks this season.  Some [ways to help kids with autism participate in giving thanks] are appropriate for school and some are more appropriate for home. Some can be used in combination as well.

1.  Pictures

Using pictures of people and activities as well as things have them identify ones they are thankful for. They can make a collage or include them in a card wishing that person a happy holiday. You can also use these choices to help with some of the other ideas below.

2.  Speech Generating Devices

Program a speech-generating device with a prayer or thank you and allow the individual to say grace over Thanksgiving dinner.  It might be part of the prayer or all of the prayer but for a person without a voice, it may help them to participate.

3.  Prepare Ahead

If the individual has difficulty speaking in groups, have them dictate or write a prayer or thank you with a sibling or a cousin or friend and have that person read it at the appointed time.

4.  Videotape the Thanks

Also if speaking in groups is difficult and it’s hard to find the right words, videotape the prayer and have them play it at the appropriate time.”

Take a look at more ways to help your student or family member with disabilities participate in giving thanks.

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