Managing the Holidays with a Special Needs Child
Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families
The holidays will be here before you know it! While it can be a time of great enjoyment and fun, it can also be completely overwhelming for children with special needs. There are ways that you can ease the stress of the holiday season for your child. Here are just a few things to think about:
Keep your schedule consistent as much as possible. Gathering with friends and family can wreak havoc on the schedule that your child is accustomed to. As much as possible, keep your child’s schedule consistent. That may mean nap times, foods and waking times are all the same, while there may be some variation in daily activites. Keeping things the same at home home will help your child more easily transition when coming back from an outing.
Offer a quiet room or relaxation toys. If you are traveling or will be gone for a long day, find a quiet space where your child can take a break. An extra bedroom at a relative’s house may make a perfect refuge for a few minutes of rest during the fun. In addition, considering bringing toys that help your child to relax such as a blanket or stress ball.
Show pictures of relatives before seeing them. One of the most challenging parts of the holidays is seeing people that seem new. A great way to acclimate your child before seeing relatives is to show them pictures, or even make a small photo album. They will seem more familiar during the event if your child has seen them at home in a relaxed atmosphere in a photo.
Be flexible. While it may be your family tradition to travel to Aunt Nora’s for Thanksgiving each year, be willing to say no to some of the events. There may be days when traveling will simply put more stress on your family than it is worth. It is okay for you to miss traditional events in order to keep the peace in your own home.
Ask for help. Respite care services are ideal for the holiday season especially if your child is feeling overwhelmed. A trusted respite care provider can make sure that your child is calm and safe while you and the rest of your family take advantage of the holiday fun.
The holidays can be one of the most challenging parts of the year. With a little planning and a lot of flexibility, you and your family can enjoy the holidays this year without the stress that usually comes from the holiday season.