1: Before choosing a venue, make sure that it has a room,
or area, that can be used as a quiet place.
It will be appreciated not just by your loved one on the spectrum, but by anyone needing a break
2: Take your loved one to visit the venue a few times.
This ensures they are familiar, and comfortable, with this new place. Always end the visit with something fun and rewarding such as a trip to a favourite fast food place for lunch or time in the playground
3: Take (or find on-line or in brochures) pictures of everything you will encounter on that special day and create a social story.Remember to get pictures of the place of worship, the hall, limo, bathrooms at locations, quiet areas, a photographer etc . A Social Story is a book you make that details what will happen that day. You read regularly with the person who has autism so that on the day there will be as few surprises as possible.
4: If it is your special day, make sure to hire a familiar respite worker to help out.
There may be moments your loved one needs a break, needs to leave the situation, and you can't. Knowing someone is there to help will make a huge difference
5: Implement the TAG You're IT routine.
Agree ahead of time WHO is an accepted care-giver and the length of time each of these people can cope with being fully alert to ensure there is no wandering, self-harm, etc. Once that is agreed, make the list, give it to each person and assign a time to each them. They are not relieved of their observing duties until they TAG the next person. That way there is no worry that everyone thinks someone else is watching your loved one
6: Create a Special Day Tool Kit.
Fill a back pack or container with lid that has preferred activities, transition objects, rewards, distractors, change of clothes, and whatever else is needed to make the day as painless as possible. If possible include your loved one in the creation and decorating of the Special Day Tool Kit. Make a list, with pictures if possible, of the items that ABSOLUTELY cannot be lost and tape it to the inside of the backpack or container.
7: Make Sure To Include FAMILY TIME
During the hectic days leading up to the event your loved will will perceive your stress, and not necessarily understand WHY you feel that way. Which will increase their own anxiety. So make time each week to just do family stuff. If you don't schedule it, it is easy to fall by the wayside, so try to pick a regular day and time each week.
8: Understand that a large gathering just may not be suitable for your loved one.
Perhaps you should have 2 ceremonies. One in a familiar place with only familiar people that your loved one attends, and one more traditional event that your loved one does not. You can show video of the first event at the second as a way to include them, without them having to endure the crowds and disruption
9: Adjust your expectations.
We all want special days to be, well, special. But often, autism in the mix or not, we have a picture in our minds of how things will be, and they just don't work out like that. Adjust your expectations and you will have a much more enjoyable, less stressful time
10: Don't feel guilty.
Do what you can to make things happen to include your loved one, or to simply allow them the freedom to not attend. Whatever you decide, do not feel guilty for making YOUR day special or for fighting for accommodations for your loved one.