Help During the Holidays
While the holidays, time off, and vacations are something many look forward to, this can be a time of increased stress and anxiety for children with sensory processing difficulties. The change in routine, lack of daily structure, and increased sensory input can be overwhelming and lead to decreased self-regulation. Many children with sensory processing issues have some sensory sensitivity. All the sights, sounds, and smells of the holidays can lead to sensory overload (even for those of us with “typical” systems!).
If your child experiences sensory overload and decreased self-regulation over the holidays, you may want to make use of some of these strategies:
• Avoid decorating or changing the child’s bedroom and perhaps one other room in the house, so there is always a familiar room without new sensory stimuli.
• Try to keep the same routine as during school days with a similar bed time and morning routine.
• Attempt to keep the child’s day as structured as possible. Use visual schedules as necessary, particularly on days with atypical events, such as a large family gathering.
• Use multiple reminders of upcoming events, both visual and auditory. Discuss events prior to them taking place. Verbally walk the child through the scenario, if necessary. Discuss the possibility of things not going as planned and/or irregular schedules.
• Engage children in setting up holiday decorations and gift making/wrapping.
• Break down activities into smaller components and reduce complexity if necessary.
• Winter days are often spent indoors. Remember to incorporate high energy activities such as running, jumping, or moving heavy objects into the day to use up some of that energy!
• Allow the child to retreat to a quiet, familiar room during family gatherings as needed.
What are some strategies or ideas that you have found useful? Please add them in the comments section!