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How to involve your child with autism in Christmas (Part 2 – Making Christmas cards & buying Christmas gifts)


In our previous blog article, we provided some tips
on how to involve your child with autism in Christmas, by getting your child to
help with decorating the Christmas tree. Another way you could get your child
with autism involved in the upcoming Christmas festivities is to involve them
in the making of Christmas cards and buying of Christmas gifts.

Here are some tips on how to involve your child
with autism in making Christmas cards and buying Christmas gifts:

Making Christmas Cards

  1. Researching ideas on
    the internet

Instead of buying Christmas cards, you could opt
for making your own. By making your own cards, you engage your child in a fun
activity that could help strengthen fine motor skills as well as expand your
child’s creativity.

To add a personal touch to your Christmas cards, add
your child’s handprint to the design of the card. For ideas on personalised
handprint Christmas cards, you could look it up on Pinterest.

  1. Breaking down the steps

We recommend breaking down the steps for your child
and providing them with a step-by-step guide on how to make the cards. To do so
you could utilize visual strategies such as:

  • Visual
    schedule (picture or written)
  • Video
    modelling (for children with imitation skills)
  • Live
    modelling (for children with imitation skills)
  1. Setting appropriate
    demands or expectations

Additionally, the demands and expectations you
place on your child during the card-making process should be based on the type
of learner your child is and benchmarked according to their skill sets.

For early learners (children who are nonverbal or
who have very minimal speech):

  • You
    could paint their hand and they could stamp their handprint onto the paper with
    minimal assistance
  • You
    could hold their hand to guide them while drawing the features and designs of
    the card

For intermediate learners (children with emerging

  • They
    could paint their hand with minimal assistance and stamp their handprint onto
    the paper on their own
  • Depending
    on the Christmas character (e.g. reindeer, santa) you opt for the design of
    your card, they could draw the features of the character (e.g. eyes, antlers,
    nose) with minimal assistance
  • They
    could write a simple greeting on the card (e.g. Merry Christmas)

For advanced learners (children with fluent

  • They
    could independently paint their hand, stamp their handprint onto the paper and
    draw the designs or features, while you model the steps to them
  • They
    could have the opportunity for creative freedom and design the card differently
    if they choose to do so
  • They
    could write a greeting on the card and add a personalised message for the
    receiver of the card

Buying Christmas Gifts

  1. Make a list

Before going out to buy the gifts, make a list of
the people you will be buying gifts for. Your child could have his own list,
which could include names of family members, teachers and friends.

Next, together with your child, brainstorm ideas of
gifts that each of those people on the list would like. This activity is a
great way to teach your child other people’s perspective, that the gifts that
your child’s friends like and would want may be different from what your child
would want.

While doing this activity, we would recommend
having a toy catalogue as a visual aide for your child to browse through and
choose gifts for the people on the list.

  1. Buying the gifts

Children with autism may find it challenging to go
to new or unfamiliar places such as the shopping mall, and some may also find
it challenging to be in crowded spaces.

Before going out to the shopping mall or toy store
to purchase the gifts, you would need to communicate this to your child in
advance. To do so, you could utilize the following strategies:

At the toy store, you could make the task of
searching for the gifts into a fun treasure hunt activity for your child. After
your child has found each gift, cross off the name/gift on the list to show
your child how many more they need to find. Depending on the type of learner
your child is, you may want to simplify the demands on your child while at the
toy store (e.g. if there are 10 items on the list, your child could look for 5
of them while you look for the other 5 items).

  1. Reward your child

When your child demonstrates the appropriate
behaviours at the toy store, it is important that you reward your child. For
example, once you have purchased the items on the list and your child
cooperated by staying with you throughout, you could buy them a gift or treat
them to their favourite snack or activity.


We hope that these tips can help you and your
family get excited for this festive season. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas
from all of us at EAP Malaysia!