As parents, we all look forward to the holiday season—a time of bright lights, special holiday food, family gatherings, and festive music. It’s a season filled with joy and excitement. But what if your child has sensory challenges? For them, the holidays can be overwhelming. Let’s explore some strategies to help your sensory-sensitive child enjoy the holidays just as much as everyone else.
Creating a Sensory-Friendly Environment
At home, you can create a sensory-friendly environment for your child. Keep the festive lights, holiday decorations, scents, and music at levels that are comfortable for your child. By doing this, you can ensure that your home remains a safe and calming space during the holidays.
When opening presents, consider doing so one at a time to limit noise and chaos. Stick to familiar routines as much as possible, as this can provide a sense of stability and comfort for your child.
Preparation is Key
Preparation is key when it comes to helping your child navigate social events during the holidays. Show them pictures from previous years, search online for images of the event in advance, and talk to them about what to expect. This can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty.
Create a Schedule
Having a schedule can provide a sense of structure for your child. Call the host of the event ahead of time to understand what to expect. Create a clear schedule with start and end times, and consider using a picture schedule to make it more visual and understandable for your child.
Don’t Forget the Sensory Diet
Remember to incorporate sensory activities into your child’s day to help them maintain regulation. Pack sensory tools like fidgets, weighted clothing, and noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. Activities that involve heavy work and deep pressure can be particularly calming for sensory-sensitive children.
Consider Food Choices
Think about the food choices available during holiday events. Look at menus in advance, ask the host about the foods that will be served, and consider packing some of your child’s favorite foods to ensure they have options that they’re comfortable with.
Plan for Potential Meltdowns
It’s essential to have a plan in case your child experiences sensory overload and has a meltdown. Identify a quiet space where they can take a break and calm down. Let other family members know about this plan, so they can offer support or understand if you need to leave the event earlier than planned.
Most importantly, make the holidays enjoyable for your unique family. Celebrate in a way that suits your child’s needs and preferences. Enjoy the time you spend together, and remember that with the right strategies, your sensory-sensitive child can also experience the magic of the holidays.
Education and Awareness
Educate yourself, your child’s teachers, and caregivers about your child’s sensory challenges. The more people understand your child’s needs, the better they can provide support. With the right support, your child can start to regulate their response to sensations that used to trigger them much better, or have plans in place to reduce the impact.
Right now, we have a fantastic resource you to educate yourself on Sensory Processing challenges, click to download Discover Sensory Red Flags: Your Essential Toolkit for Parents, Teachers & ChildCare Providers Report from our website.
We understand your concerns for your child’s well-being, education, and future. To begin alleviating your anxiety, we invite you to learn more. Speaking to our experts at Pediatric Physical & Occupational Therapy can provide you with invaluable insights, answers, and proven ways to support your child, arrange an appointment today, you will not regret it!
If you have concerns about your child, call us now at 845.362.7787 or click HERE. We are here to support you and help your child thrive.
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Visit Our Website – Sensory Processing Disorder
Read our blog – Therapeutic Holiday Activities for Your Child