The holiday season is typically spent celebrating with friends and family. For many of us, this holiday season won’t look the same as it has in years past. Instead of in-person gatherings, your gatherings may be spent on a Zoom call. This can be challenging for a neurodiverse child who thrives off of routine. Here are some tips on how to make your virtual family gatherings a fun and successful experience.

Do a Practice Run: Make the unexpected feel a little more expected by doing a practice video call. Anticipate what your virtual gathering may look like and practice with your child so they know what to expect. Factors such as multiple people trying to talk at once, loud music, and lagging internet may be hard for your child to process. The more you can prepare for them, the better your child will be able to respond to them.

Make it Exciting: Find ways to make this a fun and enticing experience for your child. Incorporate some of your child’s favorite things into the video call, such as eating their favorite holiday treats or playing their favorite music.

Create a Break Space: Designate a space away from the video camera where your child can escape for a few minutes when needed. Talk to your child about asking for a break when they start to feel overwhelmed and returning to the video call when they are ready.

Make a Schedule: Create a plan for the day. Knowing what will happen before and after the video call can help relieve some of your child’s anxiety. Let your child pick what activity should come after the video call on their schedule. This will give your child a sense of control in a very unexpected environment.

Give your Child (and yourself!) Grace: This year has been tough. Don’t lose sight of all of the accomplishments that you and your child have made throughout this challenging year. Let go of the downfalls and celebrate the triumphs!