Families with kids on the spectrum experience the holiday season differently than other families. The winter holiday season is full of activities that can cause a sensory overload. The travel, family visits, and breaks from routine can be pretty stressful. But every year families find a way to keep their spirits high and enjoy the season, even if that means enjoying different holiday activities. Lexington has put together an autism-friendly list of great things that happen locally that you can enjoy in Phoenix this Holiday season.

Shop From The Couch

Rather than going out this year and joining the crazy fray around the various shops, you can make a tradition out of one of the comfiest holiday activities: shopping online. More and more people have turned to Amazon and other online platforms to do their shopping. It’s perfect for parents that have children on the spectrum. Make an activity out of it! Put on a holiday movie or some holiday music, make some hot cocoa and put on pajamas. Then log on and make it a goal to search out the best gifts you can find without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

Sensory-Friendly Santa

Santa lines at the mall and other holiday events can get long, loud and frustrating. They can be a recipe for a meltdown for kids with autism. Luckily, Phoenix is one of a number of cities that has multiple sensory-friendly santa events, with less noise, dimmed lighting and less lines to stand in. There are several events throughout the valley:



Celebrations Of Light

One of the wonderful things about living in Arizona is that we get to enjoy the holiday traditions everyone else does without the excessive cold of winter. You don’t want to spend your whole holiday season in doors! Part of the fun of the season is going out to see wonderful light displays. No winter season would be complete without attending the Parade of Lights in Phoenix!

The APS Electric Light Parade (Phoenix) – Dec 7 (Parade starts at 7:00pm sharp!)

If you don’t want to go and stand along a road with 100,000 other parade goers, you can go and watch the boat parade in Tempe!

Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade (Tempe) – Dec 14 4:00pm – 9:00pm

How about a late night walk between the animal cages at the Phoenix Zoo. Check out the Zoo Walk in Phoenix.

ZooLights Holiday Display (Phoenix) November 27th – January 19th 5:30pm – 10:30pm

One of the valley’s favorite events happens in historic downtown Glendale, where they cover a 16 block area of multi-colored twinkling LED lights.

Glendale Glitters Christmas Festival (Glendale) November 29th, 2019 – January 11th, 2020 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Seeing holiday lights is one of the most beloved holiday activities. There are lots of options to go and see lighting across the valley and many of them are autism-friendly. You just have to decide when and where you want to go.

Are you spending holidays up north in the high country or are you part of our community up in Show Low? There is a wonderful annual Parade of Lights that you can attend as well.

Show Low Christmas Light Parade (Show Low) December 7th, 2019 – (Parade starts promptly at 6pm)

Winter Wonderland At Westgate

Several of the major shopping centers in the area go all out for the holiday season. This makes hitting all of the major holiday benchmarks easier for families that don’t have a lot of time to do a multitude of holiday activities before the season ends. One of the most enjoyable and comprehensive holiday winter wonderlands is at the Shops at Westgate. From the beginning of November until the middle of January, they create a public ice skating rink in the plaza, which is no small feat in the desert. Along with ice skating, some of the other holiday activities they have are a public tree lighting, free horse-drawn carriage rides, an opportunity to meet Santa and live music every Friday and Saturday. These events are family friendly, but they tend to be fairly popular, which could present problems for kids with autism, but there are lots of shops and venues around where one can escape the noise and the crowds.

Holiday Magic at the Westgate Entertainment District (Glendale) November – January

Let It Snow

Snow doesn’t often come to the Valley of the Sun, meaning lots of kids don’t get to enjoy the snowball fights, sledding and snow angels during the holidays. We’re very lucky here in the valley to have the opportunity to see snow even when it’s nice outside. One of the coolest holiday activities you can take the family to is Snow Week at the Arizona Science Center. Starting December 26th, the Arizona Science Center will create more than 100 tons of snow using the power of science and blanket the Heritage & Science park with the fluff! Now you don’t have to drive all the way to the high country to enjoy some snow. Snow might be a sensational hit for some kids with autism that have different sensory needs.

Overall, Lexington just wants to see to it that our community has the opportunity to attend some of the Holiday Activities around the valley that are sensory-friendly and perfect family events. As we enter the holiday season, we will continue to provide more resources for our members and their families. Did we miss something or do you have a question that we can answer Lexington Services? Send an email to info@lexingtonservices.com!