Fun for all on National Pyjama Day

Fun for all on National Pyjama Day

As a Training Officer with AsIAm and as a parent to four children, three of whom are autistic, National Pyjama Day has long held a very special place in my and my children’s hearts. It is a special day where memories are made that will last a lifetime, a day full of fun, excitement, and adventure. This year marks the 19th year of Early Childhood Ireland’s National Pyjama Day.

For children across Ireland, National Pyjama Day is a day like no other. They will have the opportunity to wear their pyjamas all day in their creches and preschools, having fun and at the same time raising much-needed funds to support chosen charities.

AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity, is proud to be a recipient of this year’s Early Childhood Pyjama Day fund.

Our first family experience of National Pyjama Day began over 10 years ago when my beautiful son Conor attended a local creche. He was my first autistic child to attend a creche and my first child to celebrate National Pyjama Day. It was a day we will never forget, so many special memories made, and more than anything I remember that feeling in my chest, my heart wanting to burst with happiness and emotion seeing my gorgeous Conor have so much fun dressed in his pyjamas, being accepted for his authentic self, and being supported through sensory and communicative accommodations. A special memory that will last a lifetime.

Autistic children just like my beautiful Conor, Jack and Max, can be supported to celebrate National Pyjama Day.

Here are just a few ways in which you can support autistic children to celebrate National Pyjama Day:

Communication

Supporting autistic children in advance of National Pyjama Day, by communicating what will happen on the day.

Communicating in a manner that is accessible to each autistic child.

For example, using Visual Supports and Social Stories to explain what will happen.

Using visual imagery to depict essential information, which supports autistic communication and learning styles.

Providing a set of visuals and social stories for home and creche/preschool will support consistency for the autistic child and support the parent(s)/caregiver in helping to prepare their child.

Choice

Ensuring the child has the option to wear or not to wear their pyjamas on the day is important. Some autistic children will prefer to wear the clothing that they usually wear, and that is okay.

For some children the change in clothing from their everyday clothing can be upsetting, so offering choice is important and ensures their autistic voice and autonomy is central and in focus in making decisions about clothing on National Pyjama Day.

Listening to and including the autistic child’s preferences and choice is essential always.

Routines

Providing information ahead of time if there will be a change to the daily routine for National Pyjama Day is important. This will help to support the autistic child to understand what will happen and, on the day, will support the child to understand what is happening and to prepare for transitions and changes to their daily routine.

Using visual supports like schedules and choices boards will be helpful.

Sensory:

For some autistic children the change in activities on National Pyjama Day, together with environmental changes as part of the celebrations, may mean they are going to experience new sensory sensations.  Noise volumes on the day may be increased, and activities and energy levels may increase with celebrations across the setting.

It is important to ensure the autistic child has the means to communicate a need for a break or ask for help and has full access to their communication support at all times.

It is also important they have access to a sensory safe space, where they can regulate and rest if they need to.

Where possible, providing structure and routine throughout the day will help to support the autistic child to access movement/sensory breaks when needed.

If there are sensory activities the child prefers to engage with each day, where possible try to include these as part of their National Pyjama Day celebrations, as this will also help to provide routine and structure for the child.

You can find more information on how to support autistic children at www.asiam.ie

I hope you all have a wonderful National Pyjama Day 2022!

Amanda Mc Guinness

Training Officer, AsIAm

Bio

Amanda Mc Guinness is a Training Officer with AsIAm – Ireland’s National Autism Charity. She is an autistic self-advocate and parent to four children, three of whom are autistic.  She is a Law graduate and currently undertaking a Masters in Childhood Speech and Language Community Needs at University Galway. She shares her family’s journey online through her family blog www.littlepuddins.ie.

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