AHH the holiday season...can bring that twinge of anxiety to us all. We will be posting a number of articles, resources to the blog over the next 6 weeks, that may help get us all through the upcoming 'disturbance in our kids force' that comes with all that the season brings. Juggling extra performances, lights, smells, dinners, family get togethers, those trips to the malls & grocery stores, we sometimes can't avoid. As I look for information to help, and think about what supports we have put into place over the years that have been successful for Joshua, and the family as a whole, there is often a reoccurring theme. There are links below to a number of good articles. Please remember to do what you need to do for your family. Often times, we need to step back, and create for our family what works over the holidays. We have slowly started to decorate for the holidays, taking the lead from Joshua as to what he is ready for. We 'up' his visual supports, reinforce activities with social stories and post a weekly chart on the fridge as to who is where, what day, when and for how long. As well as sensory feedback opportunities, sometimes, a suggestion for a 'walk about' outside, is enough, as he skips out the door and all around the yard for half hour, brings the body back into focus. On a whole these seem to help decrease his anxiety & need to know that at the end of the busy day, we are all together at home. I know I don't need to remind you, but watch their behaviours, or their language, those are often indicators of needing support. When you see or hear increase in repetitive behaviours, increase in stims, echolalic language- a little extra support is needed.
Here's a few tips that I found:
A few minor tweaks to holiday rituals can go a long way
• Ease your child into the big family gatherings by introducing him or her to one or two relatives at a time (instead of everybody all at once). Some parents also send family members a letter beforehand with some suggestions about how to make the child feel most comfortable
• Rely upon an old tradition: the kids table. Set up a table for the kids, so your child does not have to grapple with the stress of sitting with the grown-ups, yet still feels like part of something special.
• Set up a safe place in the house for your child to go if he or she just wants to be alone.
• If you have a tree during Christmas, decorate it in such a way that satisfies your kid’s curiosity. In many cases, this might mean utilizing small stuffed animals instead of ornaments. In other cases, it might mean nothing but plain white lights and strands of cranberries and/or popcorn.
• Holidays are about the kids; it’s a successful holiday if the kids are happy.
• When you feel frustrations welling up, take a step back and focus on what you’re doing.
• Allow yourself to be frustrated and anxious; there’s no shame in that.
• Remind yourself that it’s OK to let go of certain traditions that just won’t work… for now.
• Remember what your child’s “currency” is and use that to interact with him or her.
•At holiday time, the definition of a family meal should be flexible. “If your child doesn’t want to eat with everybody else, that needs to be OK; if the child needs to take a break, let him go,”