DECEMBER 12, 2023
Holiday Tips for Parents of Children with Sensory Sensitivities
The Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year. However, the season can bring extra challenges for children with sensory processing disorder. Following these few helpful tips can help your child experience the joy and magic that we’re all familiar with.
Change in Routine
There’s always something on the agenda during the holiday season. Christmas plays and pageants, holiday parties, days off school, and late bedtimes can disrupt the daily routine. Children with sensory sensitivities are comforted by a strict routine. It allows them to feel in control and helps to avoid moments of meltdown. Try to keep as many pieces of their routine consistent. Try scheduling in a sensory break or two into each day. When things start to feel overwhelming, you can remind your child that a sensory break is just around the corner.
If there’s one time of year where decorating affects all the senses, it’s Christmas. Extra lights, sounds and smells might be a wonderful tradition that we enjoy. But, a sensory sensitive child can easily become overstimulated. If you know that your child might be triggered by the sights, sounds, and smells of the season, try introducing them gradually helping them to get used to the change. Allowing the child to help with the decorating might also help them to be more comfortable. Pay attention to what sensory input overstimulates your child and use that item sparingly.
Every child loves visiting Santa at Christmas . . . almost. Most children enjoy sitting on Santa’s lap and asking him for that special something to open on Christmas morning. A sensory sensitive child, however, might be filled with anxiety with the overload of sights and sounds. Many locations provide sensory-friendly Santa sessions that dull the additional sensory input allowing sensory sensitive children a visit with Santa that they too can enjoy.
You may want your child to experience all the traditional dishes of Christmas, but they may find it a little more comforting to eat the items they’re used to. Don’t skip the family dinner. Instead, bring an extra meal you know your child will eat. If they don’t want to eat Grandma’s famous turkey dressing or Aunt Mary’s green bean casserole, you’ll have a comfortable and familiar back up ready to go.
Make sure that your child’s proven coping tools are always on hand during the holiday season. As things get overwhelming, pull them out to help your child regulate their senses. Deep pressure input is a great way to help a child regulate their sensory input. SmartKnitKIDS Compresso-T provides deep pressure input in a seamless, lightweight, and super soft tank shirt. It’s an easy way to give your child that comforting deep pressure without the bulk or discomfort of a weighted vest.
With a little pre-planning and extra preparation, you can ensure that your sensory-sensitive child experiences the joy and magic of the Christmas season just like the rest of the family.