Hari Raya Aidilfitri is just around the corner, and it is a joyous celebration where Muslim individuals and families get to return to their hometowns and spend time with their families. When it comes to Hari Raya, one would think of Hari Raya open houses with delicious food spreads, quality time with family and friends, and not forgetting, the ‘duit raya’. For families who celebrate festive season, preparations would have been underway in the lead up to this holiday.
However, we understand that for children and individuals with autism, they may not share the same excitement and the various events and social situations during Hari Raya may potentially be challenging for them and their families. In this blog article, we would like to share some simple tips and ways you can get your child with autism involved in the preparations for Hari Raya, and we hope that you and your family will have a joyous celebration!
Communicate to your child that Hari Raya is coming up
Firstly, before starting your Hari Raya preparations and trying to get your child with autism involved, it would be important to communicate to your child in advance that this holiday is coming up. While communicating to your child about the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri, we would recommend utilising the following visual strategies to supplement your verbal communication:
- Social Story on Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Click HERE for a free downloadable sample)
- Videos on Hari Raya celebrations and the different events/social situations
- Visual calendar to countdown the number of days/weeks to Hari Raya
We would recommend starting to communicate to your child about Hari Raya several weeks in advance before the actual holiday, and to reread the Social Story or rewatch different videos several times in order to help your child remember and better understand your communication.
Plan out your Hari Raya preparations
Before getting your child involved in the preparations for Hari Raya, it would be important for you to plan out in advance the different preparatory activities the family will be doing. Thereafter, it would be important to consider your child’s skill sets and abilities while thinking of ways to get them involved. We would recommend breaking down the steps for your child with autism, according to their level, in order to keep them successful whilst still having fun during the preparations.
Here are some simple activities your child with autism can get involved in:
- Baking of Raya cookies – Your child could help you with the mixing of ingredients, stirring of batter, packaging of cookies, etc. However, do be mindful of safety hazards such as the hot oven, sharp utensils, as these steps should only be done by the adults.
- Cleaning and tidying the house – Your child could help you by putting away their toys into the respective storage units, tidying up their room, or even sweeping of floors if your child has the ability to do so.
- Decorating the house – You can get your child involved in making decorations for the home through simple arts and crafts activities, such as Hari Raya banners, colouring/folding of ‘ketupat’.
- Shopping for Baju Raya – Hari Raya is the time for new clothes and outfits, and you can go shopping together as a family for matching Raya outfits. We would recommend taking your child with autism to shop during non-peak hours when there are less crowds in the mall.
Utilise visual strategies during each activity
Once you have planned out the preparation activities for Hari Raya, do communicate to your child about what he/she will be doing. During each activity, we would recommend using clear visuals to show your child what they will be doing, and each step of the activity. For instance, if you are planning to get your child involved by doing simple arts and crafts activities (e.g. folding ketupat) for decorations around the home, do break down the steps for your child so that it is easier for them to follow along.
Reinforce your child for their participation in the various activities
We would strongly recommend for you to pair each activity with a reward to motivate your child to participate in the activities. After your child has demonstrated the appropriate behaviours and expectations, it would be important to reward them at the end of the activity so that your child feels successful, and may be more likely to want to participate in the activity again in the future!
For more information on tips and strategies to prepare your child for Hari Raya, you can check out one of our previous blog posts and watch a video! (Click HERE)
From all of us at EAP Malaysia, we would like to wish all who are celebrating a Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and safe travels during this festive season!