For families living with FASD, traditions and celebrations such as Easter can hold particular challenges, such as sensory overload and exposure to triggering foods. At NOFASD we wish you and your family as peaceful and happy an Easter as is possible in your unique circumstances. Here are some strategies to support calm over the Easter weekend:
Think about what food sensitivities your child has. Many children with FASD respond poorly to sugar, preservatives, colourings, and other foods. It might be best to avoid chocolate and other sweet treats. The Children’s Treatment Network provides a list of non-edible treats, which are listed at the end of this blog.
Plan self-regulation strategies. Children may become very excited, or overstimulated, during Easter activities. Plan calming activities into your day. Make a plan with your child for what to do if they become overstimulated – perhaps create a quiet place to go, or a calming activity such as drawing or colouring. PRACTICE the plan with your child before Easter.
Research shows many benefits of regular exercise, especially for those with FASD. These benefits include improved cognitive functioning, emotion regulation and behaviour. Consider spending time outdoors at Easter, perhaps taking inspiration from these families’ decoration ideas.
Children with FASD can have difficulty understanding the magic around the Easter bunny. For some, the fantasy world is lots of fun, for others it may simply trigger anxiety. You may wish to consider Mama Maremma’s reflections on Santa – to be or not to be.
Easter egg hunt
For some children, an Easter egg hunt may not be a suitable activity – triggering anxiety and/or overstimulation. You may wish to skip the egg hunt and do other fun activities such as:
- decorate hard-boiled eggs with crayons, paint, dye or stickers
- create Easter crafts
- decorate the house or garden; you may like to make an Easter display in a front window for your neighbours
- download Easter colouring pages or encourage your child to draw
Tips for a supportive Easter egg hunt
If you choose to create an egg hunt for a child with FASD, these tips may help you to plan for success:
- To avoid chocolate, you may wish to wrap grapes or other fruit in coloured foil, providing the excitement of the hunt and a sweet treat when children find an “egg”.
- Think about your child’s sensory needs and the possibility of overstimulation from colours, lights, and physical sensations. Perhaps a single colour is better than multicoloured eggs.
- Can you give your child something for sensory soothing? For example a soft bunny toy or something smooth and cold (depending on your child’s preferences).
- Instead of hunting around the house, consider making a large sensory bin full of rice, shredded paper or cotton balls. Hide eggs, toys or trinkets inside for kids to find.
- If you have multiple children, do you need to plan to keep the hunt fair? It might reduce stress if every child gets the same number of treats.
- Consider a bunny hunt rather than an egg hunt – for example you may choose to hide a bunny toy for your child, with a trail of clues to find it.
- For a different bunny hunt, you could print pictures of rabbits to hide. Your child could exchange 5 bunny pictures for an Easter prize (eg. a game or toy).
Remember every child is different and it is important to consider your unique child when planning activities. Feel free to contact NOFASD Australia on 1800 860 613 to discuss your unique child and plan strategies.
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Non-edible treat ideas
These were taken from the Children’s Treatment Network blog Inclusive Easter: 20 non-edible treat ideas and tips for an egg hunt for kids with special needs
- Toy car
- Doll clothes
- Plastic parachute toy
- Glow bracelets or glow sticks (if appropriate)
- Temporary tattoos (if appropriate for your child)
- Small bouncy balls
- Coupons for an at-home movie night, a special game or a special treat
- Self-inking stamps
- Mini flashlights
- Finger puppets
- Mini bubbles
- Hair clips
- Pencil grips or fidget toys
- Nail polish or lip gloss
- Craft supplies
- Miniature “slinky” type magic springs
- Play dough or Silly Putty