Christmas is an exciting time, but for some children it is a season full of extra sensory input that can make for a not so merry time.
There are the loud Christmas carols playing in stores, flashing lights and glittery decorations, festive smells & crowds of people. Then there are the holiday events like church services, carol singing, school plays, family gatherings and more. (It is a lot, right)?
This time of year can often be very out of routine. Two key things that you can do to help children with sensory processing challenges is to a) be understanding - they truly aren't out to 'spoil' the season, and b) be well prepared. Your child is more likely to cope if they know what to expect, and the expectations are reasonable.
Here are some other key tips to help you navigate the season:
Keep a routine as much as possible. Use a family whiteboard or calendar to mark up events so you can prepare your child ahead of time.
Enjoy short and simple activities and time-limited outings if your child struggles in busy environments.
It's ok to have a small personal family-only Christmas. If you do go out for Christmas e.g., to a family party or gathering, explain your child's sensory challenges to everyone ahead of time. You can also ask for access to a quiet room or space for your child to be alone when they get overwhelmed.
Finally, look after yourself. Parents are just as likely to feel sensory overload during this busy season. Know what you need to do to manage your sensory needs too.
Remember there is no 'right' way to do Christmas, and accommodating your child's sensory needs will make the season far more joyful for all of you.
By Jamie Blank
Nurture & Thrive CTC Co-founder & Pediatric OT