Autism: How to make Easter egg hunts fun
Updated: May 22
Easter is coming up. This holiday means children will get excited about Easter egg hunts. Running around looking for goodies easily makes kids smile and cheer. How should a parent make egg hunts as fun for their child with autism? HFA Today explores ways to make the hunts enjoyable.
Give the person time to understand rules.
According to Nebraska Autism Spectrum Disorders Network, people with autism want rules and routines to make their environments predictable. If a child understands the rules, it can prevent bad behaviour. Depending on how your child learns, writing rules on a piece of paper for them to keep may help them remember how to play easier.
Also, try not to make an Easter egg hunt that may be different from the usual, not only because autistic people want rules to be consistent but also because their fear of change can lead to anxiety.
Know that motor planning could be an issue.
Many people on the spectrum have gross motor skill problems. If a child doesn't run particularly fast, they may not get as many Easter eggs as other children. If the person has a clumsy gait, moving quickly from one room to the next could be stressful. Also, picture this, say that the autistic child and their sibling are right next to an egg. The person's neurotypical sibling may grab the egg quicker because their hand grasp may be faster and not awkward. These issues might make the child feel uneasy.
How do I help here? Remind the child that it is not a race and that an egg hunt is only for fun. Also, try to place eggs in areas you know your autistic child accesses more than anyone else in the house. For example, you can maybe try their bedroom closet or bed drawer if inside. This way, your autistic child may get a similar number of eggs as other family members.
Make sure egg hunts are not crowded or noisy.
Given COVID-19 restrictions, there shouldn't be too many people participating in an egg hunt anyway. However, even in a normal year, crowded and noisy events can overwhelm a person with autism. According to Raisingchildren.net.au, autistic children and teenagers often avoid sensory experiences such as crowds, noise, or temperature.
If your family follows COVID-19 guidelines, crowds shouldn't be an issue. If noise is a severe issue for your child with autism, either remind family members not to be too loud or give sensory headphones to your autistic child. Noise reduction headphones, in particular, may help with egg hunts. According to Harkla, noise reduction headphones can help not overstimulate a child with sounds.
Help the child if they would be more comfortable.
If you factor in the possible challenges above, staying next to your child the whole time can prevent issues altogether. If you help the child one-on-one, you could pick up anxiety signs, motor difficulties, or whether they understand the rules or not quickly.
When you guide the child throughout the hunt, you can also use Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) strategies such as prompting them to notice their surroundings or say, "Where do you think this egg could be?" "Oh, I see it! It's next to the deck chair!"
If you use the following steps, you can make your Easter egg hunt autism-friendly for your child. Make the event fun and easy-going enough to ensure he or she looks forward to it every year.
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