Passover is coming in just a few weeks! With changes to routines and food, children with special needs may need some extra support for these changes and be able to enjoy the holiday. Here are some easy tip to help your child get ready.
1. Use a calendar to count down the days until Passover.
2. Show your child pictures of friends and family that will be at your Seder. Discuss your relationship with each person. Suggest a possible topic your child can use to start a conversation with each person.
3. If you will be traveling, show them pictures of where you will be going. Tell them what you will be doing when you get there. Make sure to keep your friends and family updated about your child’s needs and anything that may trigger a possible meltdown.
4. Read books about Passover. Play different Passover IPad game apps. Read social stories about Passover or create your own online with Social Stories Creator and Library for Preschool, Autism, and Special Needs.
5. Begin introducing new foods for Passover as soon as possible into the child’s diet. If your child is on a gluten/dairy-free diet, check out this Gluten and Casein Free Passover Guide.
6. At the Seder, use a dry eraser board to write what part of the Seder is coming up next. If you do not write on Passover, make a poster ahead of time that includes the different parts of the Seder and use an arrow to move from one section to the next.
7. Create a picture activity schedule of the day events. For example, going to synagogue, nap, play with cousins and Seder.
8. Offer choices for what your child can do when he or she feels overwhelmed during the Seder. For example, it might be a toy, iPad, going for a walk with an adult or identifying a safe room where he or she can go when feeling anxious.
And remember, every year the seder returns to offer children the opportunity to sit longer, try new foods and enjoy the experience of being with family and friends.
Dr. Frances Victory received her PhD in Developmental Psychology at CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Her thesis was titled, "Exploring the Role of Perceived Religiosity on Daily Life, Coping, and Parenting for Jewish Parents of Children with Autism." You can reach her at email@example.com.