Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

a little girl in a purple shirt with a gem bow sits on Santa's lap in front of a decorated Christmas tree

Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

Children with autism and their families can enjoy a happy holiday with these tips

Dr. Kurt Miceli, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., F.A.P.A., Senior Vice President and Medical Director at Bancroft and Marcroft Medical Associates

December 8, 2016

During the busy holiday season, families of children with autism experience the emotional roller coaster that sometimes accompanies disruptive or inappropriate behaviors in public settings.  Fortunately, parents can minimize the occurrence of problem behaviors and manage incidences when they do occur this holiday and throughout the year.  

Remember that children and adolescents often respond well to a predictable schedule. Keep a visual calendar of events prominent in your home and review the day’s activities together.

While planning holiday events, minimize disruptions to routines as much as possible.  As a family, decide which seasonal events and outings are most important, and incorporate them into your family schedule well in advance. Provide concrete guidelines prior to the event and ample warning before traveling.  

If the outing is likely to be lengthy or the environment is likely to be busy or loud, plan ahead to take breaks before problem behaviors occur.  A short respite in a quiet area can make a big difference in new and exciting situations, and packing favorite comfort items helps, too.  

Encourage children to participate, together with their siblings, and create a family plan in which everyone feels included.

While ample preparation can help considerably in preventing disruptions, challenges may still arise. Minimize attention to the behavior and speak to the child using a neutral tone, while reminding him or her of your expectations.  

While parents can’t prevent all disruptive behaviors, including children in the planning process and identifying behavior triggers are invaluable tools. With the right family plan, parents and siblings can minimize worry and stress when their holiday schedule becomes hectic and create fun, festive memories together.

Dr. Kurt Miceli, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., F.A.P.A., Senior Vice President and Medical Director at Bancroft and Marcroft Medical Associates, is board-certified in both psychiatry and internal medicine.

Marcroft is a specialized medical practice of psychiatric, behavioral health and neurological experts who practice an interdisciplinary approach to treating people with neurological conditions as well as those with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout their lives. Specializing in psychiatry, behavioral health and neurology, our expert team of physicians and clinicians provide world-class care.

Marcroft is conveniently located in Voorhees, N.J., and is the affiliated medical practice of Cherry Hill-based Bancroft. If you or a loved one could benefit from Marcroft’s specialized services, visit or dial 856-524-7243

For more information about autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities and to inquire about enrollment at The Bancroft School and other programs, dial 1-800-774-5516.


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