Happy Holidays...What does that mean to the average person?
- Family gatherings
- Fun traditions
- No school
- Family photos
- Holiday parties
Happy Holidays...What does that mean to a family with members with special needs?
- ADDED STRESS!
- Family gatherings: Can we go?
- Fun traditions: Will my other children be able to enjoy them?
- Shopping: Will there be too many people at the store? Will he/she wait in line?
- Eating: Will grandma be mad that he/she will not eat their dinner?
- Snow: Will they put on their snow pants and gloves?
- No school: What will I do?
- Family photos: Will we ever have the “perfect” holiday card?
- Holiday parties: Will people look?
Some Strategies for SUCCESS!
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
- Prepare Yourself
- Identify what could potentially be stressful
- Let go of expectations
- Prepare your child
- Identify what are stressors for them
- Set expectations
- Prepare your family/friends
- Give people a chance to help you
- 2. Routines
Routines are helpful for many individuals with special needs and their families which can be disrupted during the holiday season.
- Work to create some consistency in routines
- Bedtime (i.e., brushing teeth, taking a bath, reading a story, etc.)
- Mealtime (i.e., continue to use added supports
- Create a routine when one is absent
- Visuals can help with predictability of what is to be expected
- Review the visual schedule with your child so they know what to expect
- Make sure to incorporate motivating items and preferred activities in the visual schedules
- Create travel books for places you travel
- Some visual examples:
3. Familiar Items
New environments, schedules, activities, people, etc., can be very stressful.
- Comfort with familiarity
- Take along familiar foods, toys, objects, music, etc.
- Remember to praise and pay attention to appropriate, social behavior!
- May look a little different than the usual day to day
Communication plays a stressful role during the holiday season. Be sure to:
- Reduce asking questions
- Limit demands
- Increase comments
- Holiday gatherings are often times where people take opportunities to ‘show off’ what they can do – Avoid asking kids to ‘show grandpa……’
5. Quiet Place
Do not put your child in the spotlight the entire time.
- Know when your child needs a break
- Identify a safe place at each activity where your child can take a break away from the crowds or away from family/friends
- Have your child practice asking for a break or using a picture card to express to you when they need a break
*This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used to replace consultation with your doctor or qualified health professional.