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Preparing your child with autism for a successful Deepavali celebration


From all of us at EAP Malaysia, Happy
Deepavali to everyone who’s celebrating! We
wish safe travels for those who are travelling back home, too.

Not unlike any festive celebration in Malaysia, Deepavali is celebrated widely and by many. However,
for families with children with autism, celebrations like these come with their
own set of challenges. Among these challenges include:

  1. Wearing traditional clothes

with autism may struggle with the unfamiliarity of the traditional clothes, and may be on
the receiving end of their parents’ expectation for their kids to dress up in
traditional clothes.

  1. Collecting money packets

money packets is also a tradition during Deepavali. As easy as it may seem, it may
be a little more complex for children with autism. Among the expectations include shaking
hands, being polite when receiving the money packets and saying “thank you”.

  1. Going to the temple for prayers

with autism may also struggle with going to the temple for prayers. There may
be too many people around, it may be too long a waiting time and they are expected to stay with their parents the whole time, too.

  1. Visits and gatherings

family and friends, as well as having people over to the house may be another
challenge. There may be too many unfamiliar people or too much noise, and it
may be too high an expectation for them to greet everyone and shake their
hands. They may not understand the reason behind these gatherings and visits as

  1. Eating traditional food

some children with autism may face challenges and refuse to eat the traditional
food, especially if it isn’t their daily choice of food. This may be difficult
for the parents and other family members especially during family gatherings or
when guests are around.

Some of the activities/traditions during Deepavali that may be a challenge for children with autism

not to worry! We at EAP have some tips on how you can prepare your child with autism
for a successful Deepavali celebration:

  1. Deepavali social story

This can be used to show predictability as it shows
the child what goes on during Deepavali as well as the expected behaviour, such
as having hands nice and staying with mummy and daddy. This social story can be
read to your child everyday, and even up to a few times a day. You can include
a calendar at the end as a countdown as well. We have prepared a sample of a
social story that you can download for free here!

  1. Visual schedule

Visual schedules are made of pictures and
can be used to show what will happen throughout the day. This gives
predictability to the child as well. You can customize the visual schedule to fit the routine of the day.

  1. Desensitization

For example, you can desensitize your child to wearing
traditional clothes by letting them wear it daily, starting off with a short
period like 1-2 minutes, and slowly increasing it. You can start doing this 2-3
weeks before the celebration. Remember to always set your child up for success!

hope that these tips help you and your child with autism with a successful
Deepavali celebration! Happy Deepavali once again!