I love Christmas.
But all the things I love about it, are the things that can make it a nightmare for kids who have sensory sensitivities.
The biggest issue is managing all the routine changes that the silly season brings. Staying away without the usual food and comforts of home, loads of noise and people, flashing lights music, different smells, relationships with cousins. With all this to deal with it's not surprising that frequent holiday meltdowns are common for kids on the spectrum this time of year. Let face it you cant always stop a meltdown but you can try to minimise and also be prepared for when they arrive.
Below are some things that our family at Sensory Sam have found helpful (other than Gin at 11 o'clock for mummy!)
- Pre-warn, Pre-warn! Pre-warn, Pre-warn! Surprises aren't always welcome for kids on the spectrum. Make sure the child knows the schedule for each day as soon as you know it.
- Shop online....it's a no brainer
- Church, concerts, parties etc can be sensory overload for some children.
- Have a little chat about the social side of excepting gifts. For example "Sometimes we get presents we don’t like” then talk about saying “thank you” and what to do.
- Suss out a quiet room or space for your child wherever you are so they can be alone when they get overwhelmed.
- It's ok to leave early . You don't need a long time to have a good time. If you overstay, chances of meltdown are way higher. Take two cars so you have a quick escape if necessary, and other family members can stay and not feel short changed
- Turkey nuggets anyone? If you are going out to dinner bring your child's choice foods, don't force them to eat food that they are not familiar with
- When you notice your child is coping well, praise them as much as possible.
- If you child doesn't want to hug family members, why would you make them?
- Don't be afraid to say no to having visitors over
- Don't force the Christmas on your child that you want to have
- Enjoy yourself! Have a glass of wine (or three) and have a Christmas that works for your family, it doesn't need to work for everyone else!
Merry meltdown free Christmas everyone