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Holidays & Special Needs | Child Development | Busy Bag Activities | Above & Beyond Award
HOLIDAYS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
Holiday crowds, lights, noise, strangers, hugging, change in routine, chaos…. This is a recipe for stress and sensory overload during the holidays with special needs children. As parents we need to be flexible with our own definition of what a holiday should look like. Our childhood traditions and rituals just may not work with our special needs children. Let’s create newmemories and newly define what holidays look like for our own families. All children can benefit from this exercise and for those with Autism, Aspergers, or Sensory Processing issues, self-regulating is a way of life. When you have a child with special needs… a little stress management planning can go a long way. Set Up a Safe Brain Break Space: Your child can enjoy downtime when they feel over-stimulated at your house or at your relatives. Set up a brain break space and be sure that the other children and guests know that this space is off-limits. Empower your special needs child to recognize when they need to go to their brain break space. Practice, practice, practice…. ahead of time to recognizewhenmood is escalating…Did I say practice? Empower children by packing a relaxation bag they can go to if they are feeling anxious. Bring earphones and their special relaxation music or stories. Play dough, stress ball, music, video game,
even a camera can help children relax and give them a focus if they have social anxiety. The IndigoDreams Series gives you stories that incorporate actual relaxation techniques. The stories andmusic can be downloaded to an iPod or iPad. The other kids may actually be jealous…give them their own space to de-stress. You may start a new trend! Get Ready: Social stories, books, and movies can be a big help in preparing your child emotionally for holidays. Comfortable clothing and small dose exposures to holiday sounds can help physically. Think ahead with an eye for anxiety causing issues. If wrapping paper is too loud? Use easy open bags or just decorate with a bow. Are the electronic bears with bells at Grandma’s house going to cause sensory overload? Ask her to unplug them before you get there. Let friends and family know about triggers ahead of time. If your child doesn’t like to be hugged suggest a handshake or just a wave. Your friends, family, and special needs children will be glad you did. Prepare Your Children For Gatherings: Eliminate unnecessary anxiety associated with getting together with family members you rarely see by looking through photos of relatives prior to your event. Play memory games matching names to faces. This will
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