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Surviving the Holidays with Your Special Needs Child

Posted by on in Parent Tips
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Ho! Ho! Ho! Grab some hot cocoa and tune in. The holidays are upon us and they are a time of happiness and cheer.

A time of decorating, presents, parties, food, family, friends and fun. At least that's what they're supposed to be. Sometimes we encounter obstacles such as behaviors from children and relatives who are less than sensitive to special needs children, but there are ways to handle these things appropriately and ensure a good holiday season.

 

Prepare your child

christmas-autismBefore you begin any decorating, baking or anything else that's holiday related, I highly recommend preparing your child. Read stories to your child about the holiday that your family celebrates, and show them pictures of the holiday traditions and activities. Tell your child through words and pictures what is to be expected so that there are as few surprises as possible. You can even make a holiday checklist on a sheet of paper or a dry erase board so that your child can check off activities as they're completed. They can decorate the checklist using crayons or stickers too if it's something they enjoy. Just get creative when preparing your child for the holidays and get them involved in any way you can.

Decorating the tree

There are so many potential teaching opportunities as well as lots of fun to be had decorating a tree. First, you can avoid behaviors and teach choice making by allowing your child to choose which ornaments he or she likes best. Give him or her a choice of two or three ornaments at a time so they can pick one at a time to hang on the tree. Allow them to hang their chosen ornaments anywhere on the tree they wish (you can always rearrange them later when they're busy with another activity), and be sure to compliment their decorating. Tell them "it looks so beautiful! You did an AWESOME job!"

Baking cookies

Once again look for opportunities to work on your child's skills while bonding with them and making fond memories. You can work on your child's motor skills and have a fun sensory activity by having them roll, pat and press cookie dough. If you have cookie cutters, they can choose which shapes they like and press them in the dough. You can also do the same thing for colored icing and sprinkles. Creativity is key.

Presents, parties and relatives, oh my!

Giving your child choices is a good theme to go with especially during the holidays. So before purchasing gifts for them, if you're unsure of what they might enjoy, you can show them a few pictures at a time (so they're not overwhelmed) and have them choose what they like.

Before going to a holiday party, it's a good idea to let your child know what to expect. Since holiday parties tend to be noisy, it's also a good idea to talk to the host of the party about having a quiet roomthat your child can go to if they are sensitive to loud noise. When visiting relatives, not only should your child know what to expect, but your relatives should too. Tell them about anything you think they should know about your child such as he tends to get satiated with one item, but don’t worry he will probably play with the toy you gave him tomorrow. You’ll let them know how he likes it because who knows, that could be his next favorite toy.

Now you have some ideas for surviving the most wonderful time of the year, so let’s raise our mugs of hot cocoa and toast to a happy holiday season.

Sources:

http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_surviving_holidays.html (One Place for Special Needs)

http://www.abilitypath.org/areas-of-development/physical-development/sensory/articles/managing-fall-frenzy04.html  (AbilityPath.org)

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2010/11/17/surviving-the-holidays-dealing-with-relatives/#comments (Friendship Circle Blog)

Helpful link:

http://www.autismsocialstories.com/christmas/

 

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Guest Tuesday, 15 October 2019
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