The holidays are a wonderful time; full of fun, laughter, chaos, family, new traditions, old traditions, and a lot of sensory input. It can be difficult to be around family that you do not se all the time. It can also be hard as a parent to let down your guard with your family and friends when your child is struggling.
As parents and caregivers, we want to shield our children from hard times, judgements, and any type of confrontation. When we have holiday get togethers or large events it is important to prepare your sensory child for the unexpected. Giving our children tools and expected responses to unexpected situations help them feel more confident and empowered in new situations.
Parenting is a very difficult job and when around family or a large group of friends there can be a wide variety of parenting styles. Our children with developmental differences or sensory needs often requireS more planning and oversight in these overwhelming environments. Try to remember the strategies that are working for you at home as parents and try to keep as consistent as possible. Talking to your children before hand about expected behaviors, sensory opportunities, and possible consequences helps to set everyone up for success.
Tips and Tricks:
Make a visual schedule for the week or even just Thanksgiving Day.
Set a timer for specific tasks so they know when they can have a break.
Allow time for outside play and creative play
Try to limit iPad and TV time or use a reinforcer
Provide headphones for family games or dinner time to decrease auditory input.
Help them use a key work for when they need help or feel comfortable.
Bring sensory items such as a weighted stuffed animal or pop it to give more calming input.
Print cards for Thanksgiving friendly sensory breaks (see below)
Allow for quiet time or a rest break- listening to music and/or reading books even if only 15-30 minutes.
Allow time for a calming tactile craft- this can be very helpful in large groups or with a lot of children to allow for a predictable/organized task.
Keep their sleep schedule as similar as possible. Lack of sleep leads to decreased sensory modulation.
Bring a small sensory bin if you are going somewhere new.
Other Fun Ideas: (click the links)