We all know that the holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and great fun, but it can also be a season that is stressful. This is especially true for parents of children with special needs. During the holidays, children can become overexcited and overstimulated and for children with special needs, this can create sensory overload. To help families with holiday stress, we have attached some suggestions that may help ease some of the stress:
TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
As parents of children with special needs, we know how stressful at times the holidays can be. The holidays not only can be a stressful time for parents but also for our children. During the holiday's children are over excited and overstimulated and for children with special needs this can create sensory overload. To help families with holiday stress, we have attached some suggestions that may help ease some of the stress.
- Keep Activities Simple. Don’t over schedule with holiday activities. Pick activities that your family enjoys together.
- Keep schedules regular. Routines are very important for children, especially children with special needs. It is important to keep your child as close to his or her normal routine as possible. Even though your child will be on school break during the holidays, try to match his or her schedule at home with their school schedule. Take one day at a time and don't be afraid to adapt holiday plans for what will work best for your family.
- Let others help. If Christmas parties or dinners always happen at your house, have someone else do the hosting for a change. Ask for help with, shopping, wrapping, baking or cooking. Take up any offers of childcare. Use your respite time if you have some.
- Go easy on the expectations. Don’t expect your child to be able to socialize with everyone. Talk to your family and friends about your child’s special needs. Knowing what to expect will help everyone be more comfortable. Remember, the goal is for everyone to enjoy the season together. If some people in the extended family are hard to be with, maybe avoid being with them if it will make the holiday easier. Remember; do whatever you feel is right for your own immediate family, even if others don't understand.
- Be prepared. If you are attending a family function, be sure to prepare your child a few days in advance. Explain where you’re going, who will be there, and how long you plan to be at the family function. Let your child know what to expect, and what you expect of him or her. If your child has something that is comforting, like a favourite toy, game or book, bring it along. Talk to others before the gathering. Let people know who are attending the function what will help your child, for example, sitting next to a favourite cousin, getting some one-on-one attention from an adult, or reading a certain story. Remember, you may have to structure situations carefully to make success achievable. Let your child know he or she can go to a quiet room to read or watch television when needed.
- Be flexible. Expect the unexpected. No matter how well you may try to plan your holiday activities sometimes change is needed. Even in the worst situation, you have a choice in your attitude and mood. By keeping a sense of humour and trying to look for the good things that are going on, everyone will benefit.
Thank you to the Children's Link for these great tips. Visit them at www.childrenslink.ca