It’s that time of year when everyone’s spending time with friends and family and trying to make everlasting memories. The holidays can be a bit stressful when your child has special needs, but don’t let that damper the joy that you and your child should experience during the holidays. With these few tips, the season should go much more smoothly.
Simplify Your Schedule:
First, prepare a simple schedule so your child knows when to expect the next event. Use picture examples for younger children to allow better following. This will help your children remain calm and reduce anxiety even when the noise levels increase. Don’t forget to take breaks throughout the day so your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Coming up with a code word or sign that they can show you to let you know they are overstimulated will also help reduce anxiety.
Keep Realistic Expectations:
Next, make sure you lay out expectations before each and every event, like a family meeting, by letting them know how long you plan to stay and how they are expected to behave. Bringing regulatory tools is extremely helpful for sensory sensitivities, and little things like ear plugs for noisy environments can go a long way for your child. Always bring a change of soft clothes when your child has to dress up to prevent meltdowns and keep them comfortable.
Get Them Involved:
Keep holiday décor simple to allow your child to adjust easily to the changing surroundings. Let them help you decorate around the home so they are part of the change. Stay on track and plan alternatives for your children so they can participate in holiday snacks if they have food dislikes or allergies.
Show your children the joy they can feel from giving back to others. Make cookies for an elderly neighbor, donate to children in need, decorate cards for people in the military, or serve meals at a shelter. Your children can see the results of their hard work and the difference it makes in others’ lives. It can help them to see things from a new perspective and be more grateful for what they have.
With these few tips you can make your holidays with your loved ones much more enjoyable. The holidays are meant to be a time to be thankful for all the things, even the challenges life throws your way. Simplicity and realistic expectations make for a good start. And, of course, giving back helps take focus off our own worries and busy schedules, bringing out the true joy for you and those you serve.
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