#1: Set Some Rules & Let People Know Them
It might sound like spontaneity just left the building, and you’re over-organising the ‘fun’ (you are), but trust me, it’s going to be a whole heap more fun for everyone if a little structure is put in place, so ASD-kiddo knows what’s expected and how it works. Generally kids living with the goo of Autism hate the sense of the unknown, so talk it through beforehand. For those who require non-verbal visual cues, a written or printed invitation can work wonders. It’s there to gaze at with anticipation, with nicely explained times and locations. And don’t forget to get the rules repeated back to you, double check that understanding.
#2: Be Prepared for the Bunny Questions
Some ASD-kiddos don’t do imagination all too well, and as such ‘magical’ grown-up led traditions can seem completely bizarre to them. Why are you pretending a bunny dropped a load of Mass Marketed Eggs around the lawn? Why are you lying? Or worse, is this the truth? Depending on the child in question, you may be able to offset this at the pass. Boo, for example, likes to know the Easter Bunny is in fact Mum, but he understands that for his little sisters they get enjoyment out of the ‘myth’. Therefore, he’s my right hand man in Bunny Exploits. He’s on side, keeping everyone happy, and enjoying the chocolate along the way.
#3: Set the Parameters
Whilst lovely big gardens make for beautiful idyllic photographic egg hunts, you need to set the parameters of the hunt to where you can see all the kids if you don’t want two boys to emerge from behind a shed, bashing each other over the head with their beautifully hand-decorated Easter buckets, in a spat about who found that 3g of foil-clad chocolate first.
#4: Make It Fair
ASD-kiddos tend to be sticklers for justice. Chucking a load of eggs out and saying ‘ready, set, go’ sounds nice and simple, but in reality you’re going to cause anxiety levels to go haywire, and likely have an ear-busting, Easter-destroying, Display of Tears. There are a few ways around this depending on what you think will work for your particular dynamic of sprogs. First, you can buy some little plastic eggs such as these that you can fill evenly and each child collects a different colour. Alternatively, all children get to hunt and collect and will with the understanding that at the end, the hoard gets pooled and shared out evenly.
#5: Go Beyond the Chocolate
Whilst chocolate is of course there at the heart of the real meaning of Easter (you know, along with Jesus, The Cross, Lambs and Chicks, we know all about priorities), you might just be regretting it if you set the kiddos off for an early morning egg hunt and have them sugar-fuelled, then sugar-dipped before the rest of you have finished your breakfast hot cross bun. Mix edible eggs with little Easter treats that will keep the kiddoes busy and out of your hair whilst you labour over the Roast Lamb. Check out these for a few little ideas:
#6: Eagle Eyes
Watch out bunny, the eagle is circling. Seriously, whilst it might be tempting to let the kids loose and stand back admiring the daffodils or chatting with the Grannies, this is no time for relaxation. Watch, participate and point little people who have low levels of chocolate in their bucket towards that shining foil.
#7: Be Prepared
To earn your ASD-Happy-Easter badge, you need to channel your inner scout and be prepared. For ASD kiddos who struggle with sensory issues, have a packet of wipes on hand. You may not be able to see that speck of mud that’s got them convinced they are dying, but be ready to wipe it off. If sunlight tends to send them screaming about blindness, then have their sunnies on hand (or incur the wrath of the entire country by praying for cloud).
#8: Hold Some Back
You may put all the above strategies in place, and the unwitting 2 year old, or the defiant 7 year old, or the ASD-kiddo themselves, throws a spanner in the works and is caught in a chocolate covered gorge to the echoing cries of “it’s not faaaaaair” from the other punters. If you hold some eggs of all types in reserve, then you can even up the playing field faster than the bunny can hop. Even better, if they’re not needed, they’re your winnings for surviving another day of parenthood.
#9: Be Ready to Bolt Like a Bunny
Despite all your advanced planning and preparation, it may just still be too much, and be a highway to over-stimulation and meltdown with added chocolate. Have an escape plan, with a pre-designated adult ready to help whisk away to a quiet spot away from staring eyes.
#10: The Easter Bunny Loves Gin
Seriously. So reward The Bunny at the end of the day for a hunt well survived and memories well made. Best Served with ice and a slice. Goes quite well with the left over eggs and all.