We are just a few weeks away from my favorite holiday…..Thanksgiving! Over the years we have written several blogs on how to prepare for Thanksgiving. In 2009 we wrote about all the great skills involved with having your child help you prepare a dish for Thanksgiving http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Most-Wonderful-Time-Year. In 2010 we wrote two blogs focusing on increasing your child’s understanding of the holiday through books, art and games http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Its-Turkey-Time and http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Counting-Down-Till-Turkey-Day. In 2011 we posted a blog about how to help make the day a social success http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Social-Success-Thanksgiving. Then in 2012 we posted a blog that helped you teach your child what it means to be “thankful” and all the things that they are thankful for http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Teaching-Concept-Being-Thankful. Throughout 2013 and 2014 we posted different game and art activities to work on increasing their social communication skills and their Thanksgiving vocabulary http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Roll-Thanksgiving, http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Spin-Thanksgiving and http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Lets-Talk-Turkey. All of these blogs are great and are helpful for families, teachers and therapists.
This year our goal is to help our families, teachers and therapists increase their child’s understanding of the people that will be at Thanksgiving. The more familiar your child is with the people that they will see over Thanksgiving in advance, the more likely they are to interact with them on the big day. Here are a few ideas that you can do to help prepare your child:
1. Family Book: Creating a family book is a great way to work on a variety of skills at any level. You can make a book with family members’ names and photos to work on recognizing their faces to their names and practicing using their names. You can make a book with their names, photos, and information you know about them or you can have your child call or email them and interview them, then add the information to their family book.
2. Picture Albums and Videos: If you have any pictures or videos from last Thanksgiving, then reviewing these the week before is a wonderful idea to focus on the people they may see, the names of the people as well as looking back to see what the people liked and didn’t like (good Theory of Mind skills).
3. Family Go Fish: If your child is familiar with playing Go Fish, then you can make a family Go Fish game. This would be a great game to help your child learn everyone’s names and faces.
4. Family Hedbanz: If you have the Hedbanz game at home, then you can change the game to “Family Hedbanz” by printing out pictures of the family members that you will see over Thanksgiving and practice asking “yes/no” questions about them such as, “Are they a boy?”, “Do they like to eat pumpkin pie?”, “Do they have kids?” and more. This is a great game to play for you to learn about how much your child knows about each family member and then you can build on it.
5. Family Guess Who: If you have Guess Who at home, then you can change the game to “Family Guess Who” by printing out small pictures of your family members that you will see over Thanksgiving and focus on asking “yes/no” questions about what they look like and things they like such as, “Is your person a boy?”, “Does your person wear glasses?”, “Is your person’s favorite color pink?”, “Does your person have a cat?” and more.
All of these activities are also great to do at the end of Thanksgiving to see what you child has learned about their family and friends. In addition, they are all helpful to do throughout year to help prepare for any friend or family holiday or party. Have fun prepping your child for Thanksgiving and other social events!
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