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Category Archives: autism

Autism – Top tips for reducing sensory overload at Christmas

 Top tips for Xmas

 Top tips for reducing sensory overload at Christmas

Christmas can be great fun for all. A time for good old fashioned family fun. A time when the usual routines follow Santa back up the chimney and melt in the snow.
Yeah right! Not usually the case if you have a son or daughter who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s/Autism.
The change of routine; the carefree get up when you feel like it, the eat when hungry routine usually causes havoc. Havoc leads to a visit from those Autism bad elves; Anxiety, Meltdown and Sensory Overload.
Kids with Asperger’s and Autism can have a great Christmas too. But, it takes a little preparation. The tip is to start the planning early. This allows the child to take on board the necessary information that he or she needs to prevent a spike in anxiety as Christmas draws nearer. Try these simple tips to squeeze the best from the Christmas season.
  1. If you visit  friends or family take food you know s/he will like. No new clothes during the holiday. Use only clothes that are well worn and comfy. If necessary, bribe grandparents not to buy clothes as presents.
  2. Make a mind map of the Christmas celebrations with your child. Design the main days with him or her. Pens, coloring pencils and Post It notes are a must! Explain in full how things will work.  It’s a good idea to devise a strategy for the lack of structure (which other family members need). You do this by describing the kind of things that might happen. Explain that family members may get involved in a range of activities. This allows a mental map to be made in your child’s brain. This reduces anxiety.
  3. Provide a safe space free of sensory overload. Allow your child to take ‘time out’ there, especially when you notice their stress levels rising. No decorations or trees in this place at all. It is fine to allow him or her to eat cheese straws in this den on Xmas day. The big day is not the time to press your child to eat different items.
  4. Have a few of your child’s favourite activities ready. This is just as important as chopping the veg in advance. You might think this is boring at such a fun time BUT the child will appreciate the familiarity.
  5. Take your sensory kit wherever you go. This will reduce the chance of overload.
  6. Scale down expectations. Think ‘It’s a normal day with injections of joy’.
Each of these little things will reduce sensory overload and help you all to enjoy the festive season.  Baa Humbug!
Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard  – Chartered Consultant Adult, Adolescent and Child Psychologist   We  are providers of  independent autism assessments throughout southern England  through Treetops

reducing sensory overload at Xmas


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Sleep Problems and ASD

sleep and ASD


Sleep Problems and ASD

Sleep problems are an all too common headache for parents of a child with ASD.  A lack of ZZZ’s in any child usually cause distress.   When a child has a diagnosis of ASD the impact of poor sleep is usually much more of a problem.

If your child has autism, you may have noticed that when they go through a period of sleep difficulty, their symptoms often get worse. During these times, you may have also found that the trusted strategies which usually work well to manage ASD are much reduced. Sometimes, they don’t seem to work at all.

Experts from the University of Missouri believe that a simple course of CBT may be really helpful in breaking free from the horror of sleepless nights.  They want to ease the misery of the ramped up behavioural issues that usually appear the next day.

Christina McCrae the lead researcher in the study maintains that CBT is the most effective way of improving sleep patterns in children with ASD.   Normally this involves keeping a sleep diary and working with the therapist to root out the issues that are interfering with sleep.

Despite this knowledge the researchers feel there is still some uncertainty about how exactly to achieve more benefit through the use of  CBT.  They are eager to maximise results.

To better understand this process McCrae and her colleagues are conducting a research study through the research core at the MU Thompson Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental disorders with children aged between 6 and 12 years of age.

This is an exciting project and one that holds much promise. We eagerly look forward to reviewing their publicised findings and hopefully incorportating them into our existing CBT protocol.

Written by Christine Tizzard Psychology
We are an national and independent psychology provider based in Chichester on the south coast.   www.  We also provide independent autism assessments and work collaboratively with parents and school to ensure that each child’s needs are recognised and fully facilitated.



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