Christmas time can be overwhelming for many children, especially those with sensory processing issues. So what can you do to have a more sensory-friendly holiday? Let’s check out a few tips.
Decorations and the change in normal décor can be challenging for some kids to handle. When decorating think about offering a decoration-free zone so that their home can still feel familiar to them. Communicating about how you will keep a particular area free of decorations is a great way to help them feel included.
Also, consider how flashing lights or bright colors may affect your child. If they are calming to them, then you can even add them to their room or inside the home. If they are distracting or upsetting, think of limiting these decorations to outside the home.
When adding lights to your house, think about where your child’s bedroom may be in relation to lighted areas. These lights may affect sleeping during the night, so you may choose to have them turn off earlier than you initially planned.
We may all have memories of that fantastic holiday dinner at a relative’s home. However, this may not work well for your child. You may choose to consider serving them a meal that they enjoy while the rest of the family celebrates. Letting them decide what they may like to eat for the holiday helps them to feel included. You also have the bonus of not having negative behaviors that are intensified due to hunger during an already overstimulating time.
Many children run on high emotions during the holiday season. Choosing to scale down the gifts can help to avoid sensory overload. Also, if you have multiple extended family members, it may be a good idea to separate when you open the gifts, so things are not so overwhelming on Christmas morning. Frequently, scaling things back can help keep the sensory workload manageable for children.
Consider using a visual or written schedule to let your child know when things are happening. This may include unexpected events such as visiting family, checking out Christmas lights, gift exchanges, and class parties. Letting them know in advance what is going to happen can help them to be prepared during a season of schedule changes.
Also, when they are out of school for break, you may want to have a daily schedule or routine so that the child knows what to expect. This can help avoid sensory overload and meltdowns as they will be expecting the next event.
Overall, the holiday season can be one of excitement and fun. Putting a bit more planning into what and how you handle that excitement can ensure it is fun for everyone. Share with us below how and what you do to celebrate the season while honoring sensory challenges!