Navigating the holiday season can be difficult as a parent, especially a parent whose child falls on the autism spectrum. But, thankfully, there are tips and tricks to make the holiday season a whole lot more enjoyable — and that includes events such as the one being held at this Midwestern zoo.
The Saint Louis Zoo is hosting a sensory-friendly night of viewing holiday-themed lights for families of children with special needs.
According to the zoo’s website, this event is being offered so that no one feels left out of the festivities this time of year:
“We want people of all abilities to enjoy our zoo experiences, so we are offering a special night for individuals on the autism spectrum and others who may benefit from a sensory-friendly experience. This special night will mirror the traditional Wild Lights experience, but the evening will offer quiet areas and trained zoo staff to assist families,” the website reads.
For all those in the St. Louis area, the event takes place on Dec. 10 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for members and $9 for non-members. Children under the age of two are admitted for free.
If you aren’t able to attend this zoo’s inclusive night of fun, that doesn’t mean your family has to completely miss out! The Autism Speaks website is a great resource for finding autism-friendly events going on across the country.
For instance, the Roxey Ballet in Ewing, New Jersey, is hosting a sensory-friendly performance of the classic Nutcracker on Dec. 1. Tickets are going for $20.
Be sure to check the calendar on the Autism Speaks website to find events in your area.
The resource also has tips for making any event you decide to attend with your family go a little smoother, even if it isn’t an “autism-friendly” or “sensory-friendly” event, per se.
Mom of four Meghan Ashburn offered tips on the Autism Speaks website for attending holiday parades, taking pictures with Santa and more.
Her advice includes asking for access to a private, quiet room if attending a parade or dining at a restaurant for a large family gathering, as well as letting your child do what makes them feel comfortable when taking photos with Santa. If they’ll be more willing to smile if you let them wear their pajamas to sit on Santa’s lap, then who cares what they’re wearing, after all? It’s all about having a good time and making memories, so this mom recommends letting that be the focus!
The Art of Autism even has advice for wrapping presents in a way that won’t be stressful to an autistic child. The smallest of details can be easily overlooked, but very overwhelming for a child, so consider the small stuff when prepping for the holiday season.
Who’s ready to make this holiday season the best yet? There are plenty of events and advice in place to help you do just that! So, happy holidays!