Its the most wonderful time of the year! Yes really it is, but for some families it can be very difficult.
Parents of children and adults with sensory processing needs and autism, may have to plan weeks in advance if not months.
The changes to environment need careful planning by parents. The difference in household smells, noises and music can all impact a family around holiday time. We went to our beautiful community the incredible #SENDarmy to ask how they manage this time of year. The responses were varied, each according to their child's needs, but what was clear no two children are the same and it is important to work out which stimuli is likely to cause triggers to behaviour.
The key is to knowing the sensory profile of your child. Not all children respond in the same way to changes and sometimes behavioural reactions can be delayed. The same for changes to environments in schools. Our top tip for schools is to utilise social stories to prepare students. Keep decorations and lighting subtle. You don't need to not take part, but decorations do not always have to be bright and colourful. You can keep them have cool tones which still look magical. It goes without saying no real Christmas trees. Pine scent is very distinctive not to mention that many children with autism have allergies to tree pine. Elf on a shelf may not be a good fit either. As the change of routine each day may be causing distress.
For some families they cancel the event all together to enjoy quality time together. The sensory overload and changes to routine can prove too much for some children and adults. Never feel guilty for doing this. It is important to remember that the holiday is about enjoying time with family, however you choose to do this.
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Spread presents over 2/3 days. Worked for our #autistic. Also allow ketchup with Christmas dinner!
Yay!! Not long to go! We do find in our house that starting early with little bits - be it some lights, tree, decor, colouring sheets, xmas baking, crafts etc starting the prep early means they get used to the gradual build up rather than manic last minute mayhem
I have a black board and in November I write with the chalk 8 weeks till Christmas and change weekly and I write 5 days before the tree goes up etc..both love Christmas I have found they cope very well as I have done this for a while ...
Subtely, we like lights but not colours and sounds. Our Christmas decorations look like the ones John Lennon and Yoko might have had in the imagine video. White, silver and very minimal. My Christmas decorations look way cooler than I am.