Regression in Autistic Children | Causes of Regression

Regression in Autistic Children During the Holidays

After a consistent period of watching your autistic child progress – making more fervent eye contact, functioning with much more versatile language, and socializing with more ease than discomfort – have you noticed a spike in regressive behaviors closer to or during the holiday season?  There are many reasons for and causes of regressive behavior in autistic children, but changes in behavior during the holiday season (a time of fluctuating schedules and overly-abundant, rich foods) may be more distinguishable and even treatable.

The end of the year brings with it many a celebrations – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Chanukah – and with all these holidays is coupled a change in dietary staples and normalized school or work routines and schedules.

Because children with autism are sensitive to particular types of dietary infractions, the uproar of sugar-laden, dairy, and gluten-heavy foods popular during the holiday season may be attributable causes of noticeable regressive behavior in your child.  If your child has become adjusted to a specific diet, and is then introduced to the predominantly artificial and processed foods of the holiday season, whether it be at school or a friend’s house, then they risk regressing back into the introspective and solitary behaviors of their autism.  And if your child is sensitive to yeast, then an increase in sugar consumption can lead to a yeast overgrowth, problematic for their progressive eye contact and self-stimulatory behaviors.

With the holidays also comes school vacations and family trips.  Normalized daily routines and schedules are shifted around to adjust for the times when most people find themselves out of town and traveling.

Autistic children progress best when adjusted to a strict routine, with no unexpected occurrences your child has the time to mentally and psychologically become adept and connected to their surrounding environment.  However, because the holidays are a time of great change, this particular time of year can also bring with it great changes to your child’s progression and can lead to noticeable regressive behaviors.

Working through the holiday season to maintain the same routines, same diets, and same environments may help you help your child through a time in which he/she is most susceptible to regressive behaviors.  Although the holiday season is filled with the hustle and bustle of foods, gifts, and family, try to adhere to the same schedules and diets that your child has already become accustomed to.  Maybe your child’s usual therapist is out of town and you have to reschedule your holiday sessions, or perhaps you want to spend Christmas with the family in another state.  Sometimes little can be done to successfully maneuver through the unpredictability of the holiday season without altering too much, but make the best efforts to keep your child’s routine and diet as unchanged as possible.  None of the these issues in particular are the specific causes of regressive behavior, however, they are likely possibilities as to why you may have noticed regressive behaviors with your autistic child and are manageable ways to facilitate your child’s progression and road to recovery.

Kyle Simpson writes for Medical Assistant Schools. You can look for a medical assistant job description that’s right for you.

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