From all of us at EAP Malaysia, Happy Deepavali to everyone who’s celebrating! We wish safe travels for those who are travelling back home, too.
Not unlike any festive celebration in Malaysia, Deepavali is celebrated widely and by many. However, for families with children with autism, celebrations like these come with their own set of challenges. Among these challenges include:
- Wearing traditional clothes
Children with autism may struggle with the unfamiliarity of the traditional clothes, and may be on the receiving end of their parents’ expectation for their kids to dress up in traditional clothes.
- Collecting money packets
Collecting money packets is also a tradition during Deepavali. As easy as it may seem, it may be a little more complex for children with autism. Among the expectations include shaking hands, being polite when receiving the money packets and saying “thank you”.
- Going to the temple for prayers
Children with autism may also struggle with going to the temple for prayers. There may be too many people around, it may be too long a waiting time and they are expected to stay with their parents the whole time, too.
- Visits and gatherings
Visiting family and friends, as well as having people over to the house may be another challenge. There may be too many unfamiliar people or too much noise, and it may be too high an expectation for them to greet everyone and shake their hands. They may not understand the reason behind these gatherings and visits as well.
- Eating traditional food
Lastly, some children with autism may face challenges and refuse to eat the traditional food, especially if it isn’t their daily choice of food. This may be difficult for the parents and other family members especially during family gatherings or when guests are around.
But, not to worry! We at EAP have some tips on how you can prepare your child with autism for a successful Deepavali celebration:
- Deepavali social story
This can be used to show predictability as it shows the child what goes on during Deepavali as well as the expected behaviour, such as having hands nice and staying with mummy and daddy. This social story can be read to your child everyday, and even up to a few times a day. You can include a calendar at the end as a countdown as well. We have prepared a sample of a social story that you can download for free here!
- Visual schedule
Visual schedules are made of pictures and can be used to show what will happen throughout the day. This gives predictability to the child as well. You can customize the visual schedule to fit the routine of the day.
For example, you can desensitize your child to wearing traditional clothes by letting them wear it daily, starting off with a short period like 1-2 minutes, and slowly increasing it. You can start doing this 2-3 weeks before the celebration. Remember to always set your child up for success!
We hope that these tips help you and your child with autism with a successful Deepavali celebration! Happy Deepavali once again!