What do you do with your sensory child during the Holidays?
Sounds, touch, chaos, new people, and lack of a schedule can all trigger an outburst. Amidst the shopping, holiday visitors, piles of gifts, wrapping paper and ribbons, and late nights this can all be a recipie for disaster.
Here are my TIPS for a better Holiday Season:
Keep it simple, do not visit friends. Favorite people will come to see you, one at a time. Do it in the afternoon not at night.
Gifts – Give one at a time. Let him/her play with the paper and then put the gift away until a less rushed time is available to be able to open it with the child. Do not give them all of their gifts at once. You probably have enough gifts for one a week. Then put them away in zip lock bags and bring one out at a time. Otherwise, they will end up in the toy box all jumbled up with the other toys.
Recycle old toys that are not age appropriate to Savers or other recycle stores. This way you do not have such a mess to deal with. Keep a favorite stuffed animal and get rid of the rest. They get really dirty and dusty and can cause allergies. Wash their favorite one occasionally.
Play with the child with the toy so they get to know how it works.
Do social stories with the child so they know what is going to happen.
Do the “sensory program” before, during and after the occasion.
Watch for signs of sensory overload or shutdown, go home immediately, do not make the child wait until a full blown episode occurs. It is not their fault that they cannot tolerate parties etc. They do not know what the Holidays mean nor why they have to go anywhere.
If indoor flashing lights do not sit well with your child, turn the flasher off. These lights can cause headaches and other visual difficulties for an overly sensitive child.
Play music softly in the background.
If putting on new clothing, wash first to take the itch out of them.
If the child is stuck on certain clothing, do not buy new outfits for the Holidays, they won’t wear them and you will get frustrated.
Keep the gifts simple.
If the child has certain sensory issues, be sure visitors know what they are so that the child can enjoy himself without being touched, perfume smells, etc.
Last but not least! Have a Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year!!