The holidays can be a great time to create family memories, but sometimes can also be tough for kids with special needs. Here are some tips from our OT of how to help your child during the holiday season:

  • Holidays bring a lot of change to a child’s routine, and this can be very dysregulating. Although your schedule will be different over the holidays try to keep some consistency.
  • Do your best to keep your bedtime routine the same and start bedtime and wake-up time around the same time every day.
  • If your child is used to using visual schedules, keep up this routine.
  • Schedule some down-time in between busy activities. For a child with sensory processing challenges, it can be very difficult to stay regulated when spending more time in unfamiliar settings, or with people they don’t see often. Bring your child’s favourite toy or book and let them know it’s ok for them to take some quiet time to themselves if they are feeling over stimulated.
  • Food is a wonderful part of the holidays, and we all have our favourite foods we only indulge in over the holiday season. But to a child with sensory processing challenges, this brings new sights, smells and sensory input that can be difficult. Encourage your child to try new things, but pack some stand-by favourites to help your child feel comfortable when away from home.
  • Social stories are a great way to prepare your child for something new that is going to happen. If you are spending Christmas in a different way than on previous years, try writing up a social story to front-load the upcoming experience.
  • Be prepared for additional melt-downs, as most kids get overstimulated over the holidays! Sometimes an extra hug or 1:1 time can make all the difference.
  • As a caregiver, make sure you take time for yourself too! Take breaks when you can, and plan activities that you also enjoy.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!