The holidays bring many changes into our lives. For most people these changes are exciting and help us set the mood for our celebrations. If you or your child has a disability, these changes come with unexpected anxieties and stress. Here are several tips to help ease the stress some people feel when the holiday season starts.
Support for Your Child Through the Holidays
Changes During the Holidays
Many of us feel anxious anticipating the upcoming holidays. We love the decorations, music, and smells associated with the holidays. If you are someone who has a disability, these changes bring uncertainty and can be very overwhelming.
What can be done? As a parent or family member are we supposed to cancel our celebrations? Below you will find several tips that hopefully will make the holidays more enjoyable for your whole family.
There are several amazing ideas that you can do to help your child or loved one with a disability prepare for the holiday season.
The first and probably the most important is to let go of any expectations and ideas surrounding your ‘perfect holiday’. People are not perfect, there is no such thing as a perfect holiday, with or without a loved one with a disability. Letting go of those expectations early on will help you adapt to whatever may happen.
Discuss the schedule with them. This can be done verbally, or visually depending on their needs. This will help with the transitions and help ease the anxiety surrounding the unknown.
Another great way to prepare is to come up with a code word or signal before you attend any events to signal they need a break. This can be as simple, funny or involved and you would like! This helps your loved one feel like they have an option to escape if they need it.
Prepare family members. Send out information about your loved one. Include their likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, how to interact with them, or certain topics to avoid. This can help others feel at ease when interacting with your loved one as well as helping them feel at ease.
The last suggestion is to limit their sensory input. This might include bringing earplugs, sunglasses, comfy clothes, introducing smells earlier in the month,
During the Celebration
One of the simplest ways to help your loved one during your holiday celebrations is to assign them a job. A task they can focus on while they are at the events. They could help take photos, be the greeter, or help with beverages. Find something your child is good at and give them the opportunity to use their skills. This will allow them to know how to interact and what to do in an unfamiliar environment.
Another great way to help your loved one feel comfortable at the celebration is to find a ‘safe zone’ where they can go if they need alone time or if they need to reset. Arriving early or talking to the hosts to find a quiet safe place is a great way to help your loved one decompress.
The Holidays Are Stressful
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can add stress to anyone. It can be very overwhelming and stressful for people of all ages. Using the strategies above, hopefully this will help your loved ones with a disability enjoy the holidays as much as you do! Remember, you know your child best, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to try something new!