This is the third post in our series “Holiday Help”. Here are some ideas to consider as you get ready for the holiday season.
- If your child has a hard time with change, consider putting up holiday decorations slowly over a period of days or weeks. If needed, keep certain areas of the house “decoration free” – such as the homework area, or an area of the house your child goes to unwind.
- Decide if a picture with Santa is a real necessity. Some children who are over responsive to sensory input have a very hard time waiting in line in close proximity to others in an area filled with decorations, then sitting with a stranger wearing a bright, textured costume. A nice picture in the living room might be a less stressful option for the whole family.
- If you need to bring your child with you to the mall during the holiday season, the following suggestions may help:
- Have a plan. Map out your visit to avoid retracing your steps.
- If your child is sensitive to noise, he may benefit from listening to music on an mp3 player so the auditory input is controlled and constant.
- Bring along Post-It notes to place over the automatic flush sensors in the bathroom so your child can leave the stall before the flush occurs.
- Give your child a weighted (unbreakable) item to carry, or fill a backpack with weighted objects, not more than 5% of her total body weight.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator. This may be helpful to children who are sensitive to imposed movement as well as children who benefit from proprioceptive input.
- Some children have trouble monitoring their body position in space and may benefit from a masking tape line on the floor around the tree or any other decoration you do not want him to touch.
- Try to keep a regular routine as much as possible. The holiday season has many schedule disruptions at school and in the community. For children with an autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorder, often the more consistent the routine, the more consistent their behavior.
- Most importantly, take a moment and enjoy your family’s favorite traditions. Happy Holidays!