The holiday season can be stressful for anyone. Add on the current pandemic. Parents are all just trying to make the most out of this season with their child with special needs. Here are some tips from a mom with a special needs son. These can be found on her blog site:
THE ABCS OF SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS WHEN YOUR KIDS HAVE AUTISM OR SENSORY ISSUES
1. Ask for help when you need it
2. Buy gifts ahead of time to avoid crowded malls or shop online
3. Consider your child's sensory needs and plan accordingly
4. Decorate gradually to limit sensory overload
5. Enjoy holiday themed sensory activities
6. Figure out your exit strategy or calm down plan and then make a calm down kit to prepare for those inevitable meltdowns
7. Give your child breaks and adequate time to adjust to new settings, people, etc.
8. Help your child practice what to say (and what not to say) while opening presents, visiting family, eating holiday meals, attending parties, etc. by writing out scripts and visual supports
9. Include your child in the holiday planning, shopping, and decorating
10. Juggle what you can and limit holiday parties and events that you are invited to
11. Keep things low key
12. Limit surprises and new experiences
13. Make sure you choose your battles
14. Never feel pressured or obligated to maintain commitments if your child is overwhelmed
15. Open presents gradually
16. Plan ahead and inform your child of any changes to the plan
17. Quietly connect with your kids and let them enjoy some quiet time throughout the holidays
18. Remember to never be ashamed or embarrassed about taking your children out shopping or leaving events early because of meltdowns
19. Sing Christmas carols karaoke style (with or without sound) and use noise reduction headphones if necessary
20. Try to keep things familiar, including routines, food, bedtime rituals, friends, family, etc.
21. Use pictures, such as a photo album of previous Christmases, to help your child prepare for the holidays
22. Visually present the holidays with a visual schedule, checklists, social stories, or a Christmas countdown to help your child learn what events are occurring and what is expected of them
23. Wrap presents according to your child's sensory preferences and needs (e.g., use gift bags if unwrapping a gift is difficult due to fine motor skills or avoid ribbons and bows if your child dislikes the texture of them)
24. Expect meltdowns to happen, understand that they are bound to happen, and know that it's okay
25. Yield when things aren't going well
26. Zero in on what is most important during the holidays
Was this information helpful? Please share your thoughts, experiences, and feedback with us. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram.
Our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are dedicated to sharing their expertise on topics that are important to you.