Planning for the holidays

children decorating

The holidays can be a stressful and over-stimulating time of year for everyone. This can be particularly so for children with ADHD, autism and special needs. Here are some helpful tips to lessen your child’s anxiety and increase your family’s enjoyment of the holiday season:

Decorating
Decorating can be a lot of fun, but you don’t necessarily know how your child will react to the lights, noise or motion of certain decorations. Decorate in gradual stages, rather than changing everything at once. This will help your child be introduced to the new items in the house gradually. Allow your child to interact with the decorations and help put them in place. This will help them both visually and sensory as well as get accustomed to the new decorations.

Shopping
Plan out your shopping schedule and do it early and in short excursions. Last minute holiday shopping can be stressful for anyone, but especially children with ADHD, autism or special needs who rely on routines.

If you do take your child shopping, allow enough time to gradually adapt to the intense holiday stimuli that stores exhibit this time of year.

Family Visits
If you are planning to visit others or have family come over, meet as a family to discuss how to minimize disruptions to established routines. Also, prepare visitors on how to support positive behavior and make the visit as comfortable as possible for your child.

Try stories to help your child cope with changes in routine, and visual supports to help prepare for more complicated days. Try using a calendar or visual schedule to show events and activities you will be doing so your child has an understanding of what will be coming up.

Gifts
Wait until just before the holiday to set out gifts, especially large tempting ones. When opening gifts as a family, try passing around an ornament to signal whose turn it is to open the next gift. This helps alleviate disorganization and the frustration of waiting.

For more advice and strategies on helping your child and family enjoy the most out of the holidays, talk to our therapists. Help your child reach their full potential at Pediatric Therapies. Call us today to learn more about our special services at 615.377.1623.