Holiday advice for parents of special needs children

This article, entitled "Holiday Advice for Parents of Special Needs Children," comes from Cathy at bountifulplate.

The holidays are a special time for family and friends to enjoy each other’s company. There are parties to go to, lots of cookies to eat, and presents to open. All children like to be in a regular routine, but that doesn’t always happen around the holidays. And no matter what holiday your family celebrates, if your child has special needs, it can add a whole new level of anxiety to an already really busy time of year. Here are some tips and guidelines to make the holidays an enjoyable time for everyone!

Create Picture Schedules – Many children with special needs (especially those that are non-verbal) can greatly benefit from a picture schedule of each day’s activities. It helps them be prepared ahead of time.

Know Your Child's Limits – If your child has sensory issues or sensitivities to lights, certain smells or loud noises, keep these things in mind when planning or attending events.

Prepare Extended Family and Friends – If your child will be around extended family during the holidays, talk to them ahead of time and let them know of your child’s specific needs or accommodations. It’s okay to ask if there is a quiet place or room where your child can go for a bit if they get overwhelmed. Try as best as you can to keep mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes as regular as possible.

Maintain Familiarity – Does your child have a special toy, book or other favorite item? Make sure they always have it with them, especially when going to a place they have never been before. Do they follow a very strict diet or have other food issues? Make sure you prepare a special meal and/or snack to bring along with you (especially if you attend a function around a mealtime). Pack a small bag or backpack and put all of your child’s favorite items in it. It will bring them comfort in an unfamiliar setting.

Include Your Child in the Preparation – If you are the one hosting a party or get-together, give your child a “special” duty like hanging up coats, etc. to make them feel included. Are you sending holiday cards? Let them assist you with putting on the return address labels or stamps. Making cookies? Have your child help with the decorations! Wrapping presents? Have them help with sticking on the bows!

Don't Stress – Keep stress at a minimum as best as you can. Kids are very intuitive and will know when you are getting stressed.

To read more from Cathy, visit

About the Author...
Cathy B
Cathy is a homemaker, wife and mother to a son with special needs, an adult daughter and stepmom to an adult son.

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