Tips for Navigating the Holidays
Our Board Certified Behavior Analyst has developed helpful tips for families of individuals with and without disabilities to navigate the holiday season.
Keep It Simple
- Try to limit activities and outings to one per day.
Sensory-Friendly is Best
- Avoid sensory-challenging activities like shopping.
- Use no flashing lights – instead use slow, gentle-changing lights.
- Possibly spread out the gift-giving.
- Practice wearing new clothing such as a special dress for church to problem-solve any issues in advance. Wearing clothing they are already comfortable with is also an option.
- Share information ahead of time with the child, family, friends, and others you’ll be with.
- Visual supports such as schedules, calendars, social stories, and photo albums are helpful
- Communicate rules such as decorations that can be touched and not touched.
- Communicate with family and friends about your child’s diet, expectations, and exposure to new items.
Practice & Prepare
- Plan to keep mealtime and bedtime routines.
- Plan for travel – pack toys, familiar items, videos, headphones, and books.
- Discuss how things will be the same and what will be different.
- Practice opening gifts and the responses that are acceptable.
- Teach them to say “No, thank you” when they don’t like or want something.
- Plan and prepare a space for quiet downtime.
Have a Plan B
- Share those plans with your other children ahead of time.
- Inform other adults involved so everyone knows their role.
Many communities offer sensory-friendly times to visit Santa, view lights etc. Information on events like this often can be found online through Google searches and social media.