Follow us: Carer Login

Work With Us

Contact us to discuss your care needs
New clients: 020 7644 9522
Existing clients: 020 7624 9944

Follow us: Carer Login
SweetTree logo

Contact us to discuss your care needs

New clients: 020 7644 9554
Existing clients: 020 7624 9944

Looking to work in care?

SweetTree Discover Our Blog


Easter and Autism: How to Celebrate Safely

Mar 20, 2024 | Discover Our Blog

Easter looks so different to everyone. To some, it’s chocolate bunnies and easter egg hunts in the garden. To others, it’s just an occasion to travel abroad and visit new places. From a spiritual point of view, the celebrations are endlessly varied as well. Whatever the date may personally represent for you, Easter can be such a colourful and fun way to welcome spring with people you love. However, for people with autism, there are some considerations to take in order to celebrate Easter safely.

Whilst most of us embrace the little celebrations and nods to Easter as it adds a little bit of sparkle to our usual day-to-day life, it can have the opposite effect on people with autism. Uncertainty or any slight change to a set schedule structure can be triggering. Given it is a disability that children are born with, it is only natural as parents or caregivers to develop a sense of protectiveness from very early days. Consequently, out-of-the-ordinary events tend to be perceived as somewhat of a risk to any stricter schedule structure adhered to for the sake of their wellness.

However, it’s also important to realise it is a tradition that will always exist- therefore sheltering your autistic child from it will only make them less aware of it as a staple yearly holiday. Paradoxically, this protection can therefore actually hinder their chances of coping with it and may even limit their ability to become more independent in the future.

Just as autistic people’s brains process the world from a different perspective, it might be helpful to shift yours and see these occasions as an opportunity rather than a potential hazard to tackle, or fully try and avoid altogether.

Celebrating Easter with a Child on the Spectrum

Here are some thoughts that could be helpful and hopefully might encourage you to feel slightly more inclined to engage, to whatever extent you can, with this year’s Easter celebrations.

  • Communication: make sure you communicate with them as much as possible. This applies to people who might be present during the event as well, to set clear expectations for everyone and avoid anything that can be prevented with some simple conversations. It could help to set yourself reminders every x amount of time to bring up the topic again, ensuring the conversation is ongoing in the run-up to the event.
  • Safe space: make sure you know what the location will look like so you can assess and think of any risks in advance. Find a quiet spot that can act as a sensory room should it become necessary for your child to withdraw from any activity and noise. If there is no quiet room, make sure you have a plan B. For example, if you’re a driver and can park your car at the location, you could use your car as a safe place.
  • Carry-ons: Preparing a bag with things that may be needed during your time away from home should be essential. This also includes food or snacks that you know they will eat and will make them feel more comfortable.
  • Personalising: To help them interact with a new event much too unfamiliar to their usual reality, it can be easier to incorporate elements of their world to ours. Elements that feel familiar to them can be the little golden thread that bridges both worlds together into acceptance and hopefully excitement. If they have a favourite character, you can involve this character in whatever activity you are planning to participate in. For example, if they love Frozen, you can have Frozen-themed chocolate eggs and the characters’ faces on the decorations. Or if they have a specific activity they like, you can try and incorporate that into the itinerary. For instance, if they don’t go outside much but love a car ride, you can plan something as simple as shopping for chocolate goodies at the supermarket and eating them in the park afterwards, which would involve two car trips. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a huge difference.
  • Adjusting: If you can think of any elements that could be replaced by something that would accommodate your child’s needs, it’s something you can do too. For example, if you can find a way to replace plastic easter eggs or similar objects with sensory toys, that may be a softer and more beneficial option for them. If it’s an outside activity but you think it might be more suitable to do indoors, find a way to adjust it accordingly.

As a final note, it is okay to decide against participating if the prospect of a social gathering just doesn’t feel right. There are so many options that can be done at home, and it can be as simple as painting eggs you already have with some decorative paint. Or hiding snacks they like in the garden, as an easter egg hunt but with treats you know they like and will make them engage with the activity more. There are no rules at home, there’s so much room for creativity. For more ideas, Autism Adventures have listed some more activities on their website.

All in all, there is no right or wrong. It is often said that parenting is a learning journey, and although parents and carers taking care of autistic children may face some additional challenges, the same applies. At the end of the day, although tips can be useful, it always comes down to the individual, and everyone is unique, so it’s all about balancing the knowledge you already have about what will work out, and a little bit of courage to understand failure is part of a larger long-term win. Every failure is a lesson learned and a step forward for the child’s independence.